HILE IT IS PRAISEWORTHY for every Catholic choir to have a polyphonic setting of the Missa pro defunctis in its repertory, Requiems are of little practical use in comparison with other polyphonic Masses. Funeral Masses are often scheduled for weekday mornings, when it may be difficult to have an SATB quartet present, let alone full choir. Many choirs only have the opportunity to sing a choral Requiem Mass liturgically on All Souls’ Day—and some parishes don’t even offer that. At Mater Misericordiae in Phoenix, we have a Requiem High Mass annually for the repose of the soul of Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, who was murdered here in 2014 at the age of 28. Requiescat in pace! Other than those two Masses in June and November, most of our Requiems are actual funeral Masses sung in Gregorian chant by the men’s schola alone, or sometimes by only a couple of cantors.
The Kyrie, Sanctus, and Benedictus of the Requiem Mass can be sung any day of the year. The Requiem Mass lacks Gloria and Credo, but it has an Agnus Dei with a different text than usual. Fortunately, dona eis requiem has only one more syllable than miserere nobis or dona nobis pacem; either text can easily be substituted in most settings. The final dona eis requiem would require a more thorough reworking, but that is unnecessary with the addition of a chant setting for one of the invocations. For my choir’s use during Lent this year, I adapted the Missa pro defunctis of Giovanni Francesco Anerio (1569–1630) as a Missa brevis. See what you think. I welcome reader feedback before I finalize this edition and upload it to CPDL. Feel free to sing, study, duplicate, record, rearrange, or imitate! I hope to be able to share a rehearsal recording in the coming weeks, perhaps with a comparison of my choir’s first rough read-through (about a quarter of the choir is new since November!) and a more polished version ready for Mass. In the meantime, you may be interested in the recording by the Westminster Cathedral Choir under the direction of James O’Donnell.
* PDF Download • MISSA BREVIS adapted from MISSA PRO DEFUNCTIS by G.F. ANERIO (6 Pages)
—for SATB choir, a cappella