By Sr. Fidelis
Yesterday we celebrated All Saints’ Day, one of the major feasts of the church year. There is evidence that this feast goes back at least to the 4th century. In 998, November 2nd became the day that All Souls Day was added to the Church Calendar. We can trace its existence back to the famous French Abbey of Cluny, where the Benedictine Abbot declared a day in which the monks commemorated all the dead of the Monastic Order. Soon this Cluny practice was adopted by the whole of the Western Church as a general commemoration of all those who had died.
The Mass for the dead contains some of the most beautiful music in the Gregorian repertoire. These important prayers are well known because they were chanted and prayed so often. The name “Requiem Mass” comes from the Introit for the Mass of the Dead, “Requiem aeternam.” This beautifully simple Mode VI chant is a prayer for the faithful departed. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. The psalm verse is translated: A hymn, O God, becometh thee in Zion, and a vow shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem.