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CNP Feedback - A Requiem for Christ?

Q. Dear CNP:

A cantor of mine offered to sing Pie Jesu from the Fauré Requiem on Good Friday. She stated that Good Friday is "the requiem of the year for Christ." Is a setting of Pie Jesu Domine from the Requiem Mass appropriate for Good Friday? I examined the text and don't really see how it fits into the liturgy.

Mourning Warning

A. Dear Mourning:

While perhaps the mood of the music of the Pie Jesu from Fauré's Requiem may suit Good Friday, certainly the text does not. A rough translation:

Dear Lord Jesus, grant them eternal rest.

Obviously, this prayer is directed to Christ, and is not about him. It is a prayer for the faithful departed souls, not a prayer about a slain Redeemer.

There seems to be some misunderstanding about the theology of a Requiem Mass [Mass of Christian Burial] with your cantor. A Requiem Mass is ultimately a profound prayer for the salvation of the soul of the deceased. There are also elements of comfort offered to the bereaved (particularly in the English translation of the texts). Mourning for Christ does not entail any of the "prayer for salvation" that the older Latin Requiem texts express. It's just not good theology (or liturgy) to sing a Requiem on Good Friday.

If you follow the sublime tradition of not using the organ from after the Gloria of Holy Thursday until the Gloria of the Easter Vigil, you have a ready-made out. The Fauré Pie Jesu certainly needs accompaniment, which you would be unable to provide for the cantor, since the organ is silent for the entire Good Friday liturgy.

I would politely decline her gracious offer to sing this piece on Good Friday .... however ... you might ask her to sing this in November (particularly at the beginning, near All Souls Day). The whole month is dedicated to the Faithful Departed, and the Sundays at the close of the Liturgical Year also support this music, as they dwell on eschatology (end things).

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

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