English Hymns at EF Requiem High Mass
  • A very dedicated parishioner has requested a couple of English hymns for a family member's funeral. I asked whether the family wanted a Requiem Low Mass, and the answer was no, a High Mass. I explained that we can't sing anything in the vernacular during a High Mass. I have not asked my priest yet, but suspect he has probably not dealt with such a request before either. According to the rubrics and other legislation concerning liturgical music, would any of the following be possible:
    1. an English hymn at the entrance procession instead of the Subvenite?
    2. an English hymn immediately before or after the sermon?
    3. an English hymn instead of the Libera me, with spoken prayers before and afterward?
    4. an English hymn at the end of the service, as the body is carried out of the church, instead of the In paradisum?

    No. 3 would require mixing a "low" ceremony with a High Mass. It obviously wouldn't be liturgically ideal, but is it forbidden?
  • I frequently do English hymns as a prelude before the Requiem starts (i.e. the Subvenite for bearing the remains into the church proper). I have also done hymns after the In Paradisum... so those are other options to consider.

    1. The Subvenite is not an entrance procession per se, so this requires some consideration. If the casket is already in place, there could be an processional in something other than Latin. The Subvenite, however, is part of the ceremony for greeting the remains and bearing them to its place in the nave... so I wouldn't use a hymn in its place if that takes place (my experience is that it is very rare for the remains to already be in place - which would imply that that ceremony for greeting the remains already took place some time before the Requiem was to start).
    2. No.
    3. No. The Libera Me is part of the ceremony of absolution, so you shouldn't replace this with a hymn.
    4. In Paradisum is your best bet. It is, strictly speaking, not called for in the rubrics as the remains are carried out to the hearse - it is intended for the procession to the gravesite. Frequently, that doesn't happen much any more (i.e. an actual procession vs. driving). I can only think of one funeral in my experience where there was a procession from the church to the adjacent gravesite. IF there is singing at the gravesite (again, not necessarily common) - the In Paradisum could be done at the cemetery along with the Ego Sum and corresponding psalm / prayers that are part of the burial service as apart from the Mass.

    Typically, I have the choir sing In Paradisum 2-4 times (depending on number of people accompanying the remains). In this situation, I might sing the In Paradisum once through (it is very short) and then transition to a hymn afterward.

    I don't know if there were specific hymns requested, but here are several you may find useful...
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,892
    We have used the Canticle of Zachary with its verses following the In Paradisum. (So long as you're pretending to be in procession to the gravesite, may as well pretend you're already there.) The Canticle lasts just long enough for the majority of the faithful to leave the church, so you don't have to repeat the In Paradisum....
    Thanked by 1madorganist