Sunday, January 23, 2022
Choosing Music for a Tridentine Requiem Mass

Some years ago I wrote a short article entitled "Choosing Music for a Tridentine Nuptial Mass." As a follow-up, I thought it worthwhile to consider some particulars on choosing music for a Tridentine Requiem (Funeral) Mass. First though a few key points:

  1. Make sure you explicitly state in your will that you desire to have a Tridentine Requiem Mass and should not be given a Novus Ordo funeral for any reason. Use those words: "for any reason." For practical purposes, list the parishes or chapels you attend that could offer this and which you would find acceptable (e.g. a reverent priest who will pray for your soul, ample parking for those attending, driving distance not too drastic for people, distance not excessive from the funeral plot where you will be buried, etc).
  2. Make it clear in your will that you are only to be buried and not cremated. Again state "for any reason." We know that cremation is not permitted for Catholics, despite what modern clergymen are prone to say.
  3. Most importantly, appoint an executor for your will that you know will see to your final wishes. Even if you state that you wish to have a traditional Requiem Mass and be buried, it is possible for the executor to deny your wishes and have you cremated with no funeral. Appoint an executor who will undoubtedly see to the completion of your wishes. 

As to choosing the music to help your executor and the priest when it comes to your funeral, there is thankfully little that needs to be done. Most of the music is already mapped out for you.  There is an Ordinary proper to the Requiem and the Propers themselves leave little room for other musical selections.  At best, you can select Communion music since the Proper is relatively short.  

"Help, Lord, the Souls Which Thou Hast Made" is always a good choice, as it is about Purgatory.  "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" arr. by Virgil Thomson is a lovely setting of Psalm 23.  There is some flexibility with the procession out of the church as well.  The prescribed chant is "In Paradisum", which could be chanted or sung polyphonically or chorally. 

You may find these PDFs from the Institute of Christ the King very helpful as well.  The first is the burial service.  Typically there is no procession to the church, so you will want to start with the "Subvenite" as the processional piece and then proceed from there.  The second is the Ordinary and Propers for the Mass.  

Lastly, consider putting in your will a request for Gregorian Masses to be said immediately after your death. Indicate where and how to order them (here are some helpful links) and state the approximate cost of each. Other traditional orders beyond that list do offer Gregorian Masses and accept the stipend in the mail. Orders like the Traditional Carmelites in Clear Creek come to mind as doing so.

Many thanks to a long-time friend, Daniel, for his invaluable contributions here.

1 comment(s):

del_button January 24, 2022 at 7:47 AM
christopher schaefer said...

At a sung (high, Missa cantata) Tridentine Mass vernacular music is not permitted. Since the 1950s it HAS been permitted to have vernacular music at a LOW Mass, exclusively at Entrance, Offertory, Communion, Recessional. (This permission is the origin of the notorious "4 hymn Mass" in the Novus Ordo, although in some ethnic/national areas it already was a well-established custom at low Mass only, e.g., in Germany, which made it rather easy for Luther to spread his heresy.)

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