Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


A requiem is a Roman Catholic Mass performed in commemoration of the dead. It is used as a funeral service, and is also performed as part of the liturgy of All Souls Day. Because of their belief in Purgatory, Roman Catholics believe that masses performed on behalf of the dead in Purgatory can shorten their stay there and speed them to heaven.

It derives its name from the opening words of the introit: Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. (Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon them.) The requiem mass differs from the ordinary mass in omitting certain joyful passages such as the alleluia, and by the addition of various hymns such as the Dies Iræ.

A requiem is also a musical composition that sets the texts and hymns used in this Roman Catholic ritual to music. Ordinarily, various texts in the Mass are changed from one day to the next according to the Church calendar; but in a requiem mass, these texts are fixed. They are dramatic in character, and as such have appealed to many composers.

Requiem is also loosely used to describe any sacred composition that sets religious texts that would be appropriate at a funeral, such as Brahms's Deutsches Requiem. Many distinguished composers have written requiems, including:

Table of contents
1 Early music
2 Classical period
3 Romantic era
4 Post-romantic

Early music

Classical period

Romantic era