Saturday, 14 February 2009

Requiem (Gabriel Fauré)

Gabriel Fauré wrote this, the best-known of his large-scale choral works, between 1887 and 1890. Although his parents died in 1885 and 1887, he disclaimed any connection and declared it was “composed for nothing … for fun, if I may be permitted to say so”.
The text is based on the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead, with some omissions and amendments. To this he added the motet Pie Jesu and two texts from the Order of Burial, Libera me and In Paradisum.
Requiem aeternam dona eis DomineRest eternal give them, Lord,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.and let light always shine on them.
Te decet hymnus, Deus in SionIt is right to hymn you, God, in Sion
et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem.and to you will be made a vow in Jerusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet.Hear my prayer, to you all flesh will come.
Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, lord have mercy.
O Domine, Jesu Christe, Rex GloriaeO lord, Jesus Christ, king of glory
libera animas defunctorumfree the souls of the dead
de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu.from the punishment of hell and the deep pit.
O Domine, Jesu Christe, Rex GloriaeO Lord Jesus Christ, king of glory,
libera animas defunctorum de ore leonisdeliver the dead souls from the mouth of the lion,
ne absorbeat eus Tartarus ne cadant in they are not swallowed by hell and do not fall into darkness.
Hostias et preces tibi Domine, laudis offerimusSacrifices and prayers to you, lord, with praise we offer
tu suscipe pro animabus illisreceive them for those souls
quarum hodie memoriam facimuswhom today we remember.
Fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitamMake them, lord, from death cross over to life
Quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini once to Abraham you promised and to his seed.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus SabaothHoly, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts
pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tuafull are the heavens and earth with the glory of you
hosanna in excelsis.hosanna in the highest.
Pie Jesu, Domine, dona eis requiemMerciful Jesus, Lord, give them rest
dona eis requiem sempiternam requiemgive them rest, eternal rest.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundiLamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
dona eis requiem.give them rest.
Lux aeterna luceat eis, DomineLet light eternal shine on them, lord,
Cum sanctis tuis in aeternum,with your saints for eternity,
quia pius esfor you are merciful.
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine,give them eternal rest, lord,
et lux perpetua luceat eisand let light always shine on them.
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeternaFree me, lord, from death eternal
in die illa tremendaon that day of dread
quando coeli movendi sunt et terrawhen the heavens will be shaken and the earth
dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignemwhile you come to judge the world with fire.
Tremens factus sum ego et timeoI am made to shake, and am afraid
dum discussio venerit atque ventura iraawaiting the trial and the coming anger.
Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriaeThat day, day of anger, of calamity and misery,
dies illa, dies magna et amara valde.that day, the day of great and exceeding bitterness,
Requiem aeternam …(reprise of the introit)
In Paradisum deducant AngeliInto paradise may angels draw them,
in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyreson your arrival, may the martyrs receive you
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalemand lead you into the holy city Jerusalem.
Chorus Angelorum te suscipiatMay the chorus of angels receive you,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupereand with Lazarus, once a beggar,
aeternam habeas requiemmay you have eternal rest.
Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. A transliteration of the greek prayer Κύριε ἐλέησον, Χριστὲ ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον.

December 1999: the first half of the first concert by what would later become known as The Sacred Wing was a performance of Fauré’s Requiem. My friend Ian B, an intelligent and privately-educated man, came up to me during the interval and said “That was lovely. What was it about?”
We'd chosen the work because we thought it was well-known, and anyway everybody would know what a requiem was and think it appropriate for a concert so near World Aids Day. A reminder, if one were needed, of the dangers of making assumptions. Since then I've always included a translation of anything non-english when putting programme notes together (here's a pdf of the programme for Sacred Wing's 2004 performance), and I suppose that ultimately you've got Ian to thank for this blog.


  1. Really. Thank you. Not just made my day, pretty much everything else as well.

  2. Great work, thank you. Helps me a lot to study it (I'm working on the Barytone solo).
    May I humbly point to the part 'calamitatis et miseriae' in part Vi where you have repeated the Latin text , though Fauré did not.

    1. Thanks for spotting that and telling me about it. I don't know how the extra line got there or why it's taken four years to be noticed, but I've taken it out now.

  3. Can someone direct me to a 19th c. Romantic music blog?

  4. Thank you. Now I will know what I am singing. And will phrase the song better.

  5. Thank you, I haven't been able to hear all the words on my recording, this helps no end in following it. Nice translation too.

  6. Interesting that the requiem uses both infernus and Tartarus for hell. Is that standard in the prayers, or was that Fauré's choice? I'm not Catholic, so I'm a bit hazy about standard forms of prayer in Latin.

    1. Tartarus refers to the deepest area of hell reserved only for the worst sinners according to Roman mythology, so I would guess that Faure used it as a bit of poetic license to express the same thing as infernus. I hope this helps :)

  7. Thanks for this. My choir is singing it, and it's helpful to have bilingual lyrics for study. A beautiful, beautiful piece of music!

  8. Thank you! I sing in the Akron Symphony Chorus in Akron, Ohio. We are performing the Requiem with the orchestra on 24 October, 2015. I need to know what I am singing so that I can give the music the proper meaning.

  9. Thank you for posting this! One thing: the reprise of the Introitus is at the end of Agnus Dei, not at the end of Libera Me :)

    1. No, the reprise of the Introit is in there twice. Once at the end of the Agnus Dei, and once at the end of the Libera Me. I think. And something is left out at the end of the Offertory that includes that beautiful "Amen." It could be part of the Dies Irae which is not included in this version.

  10. wonderful - thank you so much! We're singing this in France, with a French pronounciation - so it's doubly good to know exactly WHAT we are singing! You did an excellent 'job'. Merci

  11. Your posting is now the top google search result, so I have a few dumb questions due mainly to the way google got me here.
    1. Requiem : means prayer?
    2. The entire piece is 35 minutes long, that includes the music put to the other standard liturgy texts? Is that a good way to explain the whole?
    3. As someone who will be "singing" (probably a poor choice of word) this compilation if that's the right word for the piece, I assume getting the actual sound to not be muddy and mumbled, is hard for a non latin speaker. Any tips on how to understand what I'll be doing in my mind to make this sound correct or sound clean without really "learning" any latin?

    Please do be brutal with replies to my stupid questions.

    1. I grew up Catholic, and I'm old enough to have sung the Latin Mass, although not a Requiem (or maybe); this is not a typical Requiem. But just learn the syllables. They pronounce them differently in this music than we did. The ending "ae" they pronounce as "a". And lots of what we would have pronounced as an A they seem to be pronouncing as an E, but it could be they are stressing the last half of the diphthong, as E is so much easier to sing . There are two different and accepted ways of pronouncing Latin. At least that is what I was taught. One of those was "Church Latin," and I guess the other one was academic.

      If you listen carefully you can hear each syllable. And in Latin they pretty much pronounce each and every syllable.

  12. As a long lapsed Catholic, there is one line -- let perpetual light shine upon them -- which you have changed. Yours is not incorrect; it is just not what we always said. There is also something missing, after the Offertory, which ends in Amen, as does the Dies Irae. I don't know if some of the DIes Irae was inserted there. I could not figure it out. But that "Amen" cannot be missed.

    1. After the "Hostias" portion of this movement (which is where this Latin/English translation ends), some of the beginning text is repeated, after which, as you've stated, there is a most beautiful "Amen". I'm guessing this blog's author chose not to repeat it here.

    2. Thank you. Very helpful in interpreting how to sing it.

    3. It's difficult to decide whether to omit that repeated passage as being musical repetition (as in "Kyrie, Kyrie, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, eleison, [etc., etc....]") or to include it as textual repetition (as in "Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison"), especially since it is not quite all the text before "Hostias", and not in the same order. The extra problem in this case is that, if you nevertheless include the "Amen", that looks as though it is tacked on to "Quam olim Abrahae...", which it isn't. I'm just compiling the programme for my choir's upcoming concert, and I'm including the passage.

  13. Thank you for posting the Latin lyrics and English translations. My local university TV station UCSDTV just performed this most beautiful and beloved of all the sacred music I love and the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed it beautifully. Your lyrics allowed me to participate and sing at home and it fed my heart and soul so much. Thank you again.