What song is this (Kennedy Funeral)
  • A question

    I was watching a scene from the funeral of President John F. Kennedy. At the the moment his coffin was brought into St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the choir sang a most beautiful song.

    I asked St. Matthew’s Cathedral staff whether they knew what song it was. They replied it was not Subvenite (the song that is officially listed as the first song that was sung), but a Eucharistic hymn, by a name not known to them. Of course it was 46 years ago, but I still hope it’s possible to find out what song it was.

    You can hear the song I’m referring to through the following link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZCWHzJswRQ - The song starts at 2.43 and goes on till 4.11 minutes.

    Would you please listen to this song and if possible tell me name of that song, or refer me to somebody who could help me with this?

    I hope I’m not bothering you too much with this question, but it would mean a lot to me. Thanking you in advance,

  • O Esca Viatorum!
  • It's a choral variant of the tune "Innsbruck", #729 in Worship.
  • Usually sung in German to the text - O Welt, ich muss dich lassen. O world, I now must leave thee. See settings by J. S. Bach and J. Brahms
  • Actually, I'd also like to know what the military band was playing just prior to that portion of the video.
  • "Accurate Listing of Funeral Music"
    by Irving Lowens, Washington Star Music Critic

    Reprint of the Washington Star article of 12/1/63

    Last Monday, millions watched the solemn procession of the caisson from the Capitol to the White House, from the White House to St. Matthew's Cathedral, from the cathedral to Arlington National Cemetery and as they watched, heartsick, they listened.

    What music did they hear?

    Every momentous event breeds legends, and already the legends about the music that ac-companied the dead march proliferate. Some are entirely wrong.

    This is a verified listing of what was played and sung.

    President Kennedy, I feel certain, would have wanted the record straight. He was devoted to the truth. An historian himself, he knew from personal experience that the romantic lie outruns the prosaic truth, and he knew that even in little things, there isn’t much sense in giving a false-hood a head start.
    At the Capitol
    10:48 a.m.- The coffin is placed on the caisson at Capitol Plaza as the Coast Guard Academy Band played "Ruffles and Flourishes" four times, "Hail to the Chief," and the hymn, "O God of Loveliness."

    11 a.m. - The cortege clears Capitol Plaza and joins military units at Constitution avenue as the funeral procession begins. Three service bands marched in the following order: the Marine Band; the Navy Band; the Air Force Band. Each organization had an approved repertory of three pieces which were played during the 35-minute march as seemed appropriate. Marine Band selec-tions were: "Our Fallen Heroes," "Holy, Holy, Holy," and "The Vanished Army"; Navy Band selections were the Beethoven "Funeral March," the R. B. Hall "Funeral March," and "Onward Christian Soldiers”; Air Force Band selections were the Chopin “Funeral March,” the hymn, “Vigor in Arduis” (Hymn to the Holy Name), and “America the Beautiful.”
    At the White House
    11:35 a.m.: The cortege arrives at the White House. The Naval Academy Catholic Choir sang three selections at the north portico: "Above the Hills of Time the Cross Is Gleaming" (Londonderry Air) "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," and "Dona Nobis Pacem."

    11:40 a.m.: The cortege leaves the White House for St. Matthew’ s Cathedral. The music was provided by nine pipers from the Black Watch of the Royal Highlanders Regiment, who played "The Brown Haired Maiden," "The Badge of Scotland," "The 51st Highland Division,” and "The Barren Rocks of Aden."

    12:08 p.m.: The cortege arrives at the cathedral. The Army Band plays “Ruffles and Flourishes” four times, “Hail to the Chief," and the hymn "Pray for the Dead."
    At the Cathedral
    12:13 p.m.: The bronze doors of the cathedral close and the requiem mass commences. The choral music during the mass was sung by the St. Matthew's Choir, Eugene Stewart, organist and choirmaster, the tenor soloist was Luigi Vena. The program was as follows: "Subvenite" (choir); "Pie Jesu," Leybach (tenor solo), "Ave Maria," Schubert (tenor solo); “In Manus Tuus,” Novello (tenor solo); “Sanctus and Benedictus,” Perosi (choir). Mr. Stewart conducted the Perosi "Sanctus and Benedictus;" the Gregorian "Subvenite" and the "In Paradisum" were led by James Walsh.

    1:15 p.m.: The bronze doors of the cathedral open as the requiem mass is concluded. As the coffin was replaced on the caisson, the Army Band played "Ruffles and Flourishes" four times, "Hail to the Chief," and the hymn "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name."

    1:30 p.m.: The funeral procession to Arlington National Cemetery begins. The music used was the same as that for the march from the Capitol to the White House, with the service bands proceeding in the same order.
    At the Cemetery
    2:43 p.m.: The cortege arrives at Arlington National Cemetery. The Marine Band played "Ruffles and Flourishes" four times and then "The Star Spangled Banner." As the coffin was moved from the caisson to the burial site, the Air Force Pipers played "Mist Covered Mountain."

    3:08 p.m.: Following the 21-gun salute and the three artillery volleys, "Taps" was played by Army bugler Sgt. Keith Clark.

    3:13 p.m.: During the closing flag-folding ceremony the Marine Band played the hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save."
    The identification of the music played by the service bands was obtained from Capt. Gilbert H. Mitchell of the Army Band, who served as music co-ordinator for the Military District of Washington during the ceremonies.

    The Navy Band supplied the titles of the pieces sung by the Naval Academy Catholic Choir at the north portico of the White House.

    The pipe tunes used by the Black Watch were identified by Pipe Maj. Anderson of the Royal Highlanders Regiment through Mr. Derek Day of the British Embassy.

    Mr. Eugene Stewart, organist at St. Matthew's Cathedral, furnished the names of the musical selections used in the requiem mass.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Frogman,
    Thanks for the music listing from the late, lamented Washington Star. Not questioning the identity in the piece on the video. However, when watching the video I wondered if the Esca Viatorum was actually sung at the entrance. It seemed that the music may have been edited in over the film footage. I say this mainly because the choral music was being sung during the procession in the church, the footage cut to a view of the cross, and then to the consecration of the Mass. The music didn't skip a beat. So something was edited in somewhere.
  • TDay
    Posts: 2
    What music was heard in St. Matthew’s Cathedral during the funeral liturgy for President John F. Kennedy? As of November 2014 there are two reliable but incomplete sources of information:

    The Website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum includes an “Accurate Listing” of music sung at the Requiem Mass (as list from a newspaper article).
    N.B.This list does not mention anything that was sung during the distribution of communion.

    See “CBS News Live Coverage of The State Funeral of President Kennedy” in YouTube. These videos were “Published on Nov 26, 2013” on YouTube by JFK1963NEWSVIDEOS. The copyright date is 2013.

    The Mass: Part 1

    “CBS News Live Coverage of The State Funeral of President Kennedy (12:00 P.M -1:00 P.M)”
    “From The Afternoon of Monday November 25th 1963”

    *At about7 minutes of the CBS video: Guests are arriving. Organ plays an introduction to Pie Jesu by Ignace Leybach (1817-91). Then the tenor soloist, Luigi Vena, sings it. The song is interrupted because the casket was about ready to be taken into the cathedral. (YouTube also has a recording of this same Pie Jesu sung by Alessandro Moreschi, the last castrato to sing in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Choir.)

    *At 17:45 minutes: Tenor sings Schubert’s Ave Maria during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.

    *At about 25 minutes: Tenor sings a song, perhaps In Manus Tuas by Vincent Novello. (It is hard to tell because the microphone is mainly picking up the voice of the celebrant (Cardinal Cushing).

    *At about 28 minutes: Choir sings a brief Sanctus/Benedictus for men’s voices. Probably by Lorenzo Perosi (1872-1956).

    *At about 34 minutes: A choir of men’s voices sings O Esca Viatorum during communion. This harmonized version is based on a song “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen,” (“Innsbruck, I must leave thee“) by Heinrich Isaac (1450?-1517).

    This YouTube video of the Mass from the CBS broadcast only shows a brief excerpt from the distribution of communion.

    The Mass: Part 2

    “CBS News Live Coverage of The State Funeral of President Kennedy (1:00 P.M -2:00 P.M)”

    This video covers the end of the liturgy. A choir of men’s voices sings the chant In Paradisum. After the liturgy ends, a brass band, outside the cathedral, begins to play.

    - YouTube has other videos of this Low Mass in Latin but all of them are just highlights. In many cases the editors have taken the singing from one section and put it behind the video for another section. The CBS version appears to be accurate – the right music is behind the right section of the video.

    - The information in my book Why Catholics Can’t Sing (1990 and 2013) concerning the funeral is not accurate. I hope to correct any errors. Does anyone have information about what was sung during communion besides O Esca Viatorum?
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Chrism
  • I was eight years old, but this still stabs a knife through my heart. The only time I ever saw my own father cry.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,325
    Abel di Marco and others have posted editions as well, indexed on CPDL, though I don't see the harmonization heard on the film there or among these.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 662
    The "Vigor in Arduis March" is subtitled (Hymn to the Holy Name) because it was a march version of this hymn by Cardinal O'Connell, according to a list of sheet music by other people in the John Philip Sousa papers:

    "James M. Fulton "Vigor in Arduis: March" P, 1924
    Opus 1278. Introducing, The Hymn to the Holy Name by His Eminence William Cardinal O'Connell. Published by Fulton Publishing, Co., Boston. (The lyrics were in the Sacred Heart Review in Jan. 1913, so they'd been kicking around a while. "Vigor in Arduis" was the Cardinal's motto, so maybe that's why the march title.)

    0 ! Holy Name of Majesty and Power,
    0! Sacred Name of God's own Son,
    In every joy and every weary hour
    Be Thou our strength until life's war is won.

    Fierce is the fight for God and the right,
    Sweet Name of Jesus, in Thee is our might.

    All o'er the earth the hearts of men are dying,
    Chilled by the storms of greed and strife;
    All o'er the land rebellion's flag is flying,
    Threatening our Altars and the nation's life.

    Ages ago our fathers firm and loyal
    Fought for the faith forever the same,
    We are their sons, our heritage is royal,
    And we shall conquer in the Holy Name.

    Up, Christian Soldiers, Christ who goes before us
    Shows us His Cross and leads the way,
    [Pius], our Pontiff, guides, and God is o'er us,
    Victory is ours if we but watch and pray.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Chrism
  • Chrism
    Posts: 796
    Google found me an mp3 of "Vigor in Arduis" on a site dedicated to James Fulton band music.

    The "O Holy Name" theme begins around 2 minutes in.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • All I can say is thank God that Catholic funeral music was so consistently glorious 'back in the day." I have nightmare visions of what a state funeral at a Catholic Cathedral might sound like these days with such selections as: "On Eagle's Wings", "Be Not Afraid" and In Paradisium sung in English to the tune of Danny Boy. :(
    Posts: 175
    American Catholic Cathedrals where a great state funeral would be something we could all be proud of (not exhaustive - off the top of my head):
    -San Francisco
    -Los Angeles
    -New York
    -Philadelphia (at least until last Summer)
    -St. Louis
    -Washington D.C. (either St. Matthew's or the Shrine)
    -Sioux Falls
    -La Crosse
    -St. Paul

    I'm sure forum members can add to this list.

    In my opinion, more cathedrals do better music now than "back in the day".

  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    The problem is that while the quality can be better, i.e. of the musicianship, the choices are not necessarily better because of the optionitis that plagues the Novus Ordo, and even if you do all chant and/ir polyphony you still have the deformed funeral rites.

    It’s embarrassing that Kennedy's funeral was a poorly celebrated Pontifical Low Mass. And I have to say, in at least five cities listed by MBW, it seems that the diocese and the local area have the resources to celebrate well but it all depends on the current prelate and his whims at that moment.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Oklahoma City OK
    Lincoln NE
    Charlotte SC
    ?Raleigh, NC?
    Coming soon to a diocese near me- Anaheim/Orange CA
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    You can add Tulsa and Omaha as well.
  • MBW, I would 86 St. Paul from there until they get a new permanent archbishop and see how he does.
    Posts: 175
    My experience is that the ordinary of the diocese is less influential on the liturgy and music in the cathedral than is the pastor or rector of the cathedral. However, the ordinary greatly influences the quality of liturgy and music if they take the opportunity to appoint a pastor or rector. In many cases, though, liturgy and music are not the highest value when choosing the rector or pastor, even if the ordinary is very interested in good celebrations. There are many other areas which regularly take precedence over liturgy in such cases. EG cathedral and diocesan finances, the ordinaries relationship with diocesan clergy, political/social justice issues, other local issues etc.

    I'm sure I am not alone on this forum in regretting that, for far too many ordinaries, the "summit and source" is often left to languish in the lowlands.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen