SaM Music for Requiem Mass and Funeral Services

Sonya, Marian and Dennis have sung and played at (mainly but not exclusively Catholic) church services as cantors, choristers and musician (keyboard, piano and organ).  

SaM has achieved a reputation for providing good and appropriate music at funeral services organised by Funeral Directors and Churches..

The link below runs a 8 minute MP3 file with some of the common hymns we sing at funerals.  We have not yet finished recording, but this sample will help you understand the way in which we approach religious music.

On the MP3, you will hear:

  • Come as You Are
  • The Lord is My Shepherd
  • A New Commandment
  • Lamb of God (from Mass of St Francis - we can sing all the Mass parts)
  • One Bread, One Body
  • How Great thou Art

We will provide the music on organ and / or keyboard with two singers.  We can add (at additional cost) a flautist, guitarist, violinist and classical organist. We can use the church instruments or provide our own keyboard and sound system (at additional cost), but we prefer to use the local facilities. We require two microphones and a music stand which we are happy to arrange for you through the parish office, as we need to know how it works in the church. We need access to the church and facilities one hour before the service.

The following notes are designed to assist you in preparing the music program for a Catholic Requiem Mass and Funeral.

Things to consider

One of the key considerations in planning the music is the policy of the Parish with regard to religious and secular music during a funeral service. It is the current trend that most priests will allow only religious music. Therefore, the deceased’s favourite song cannot be sung as part of the service. In our opinion, it is better to save that secular music for the wake. SaM is happy to play for your life celebration after the service. See the SaM pages on this web site for our repertoire.

Another key consideration is copyright. The parish must have copyright cover for all of the music of the ceremony if it is in any way duplicated – e.g.: printed in the service booklet, placed in the pews on lyric sheets, or projected on overhead screens. Before you commit to the music and the printing of the service booklet, you must check with the priest and parish office that all of the music is suitably covered for the service.

Many churches these days (including the Hornsby Catholic Cathedral) do not have hymn books in the pews or otherwise available because they now use overhead projection for usual services. You must check with the parish office before the service book is printed. If there are no hymnals in the church, you must either use the parish Audio Visual facilities – which means someone who knows how to use it must be present, and that may incur a cost - or the lyrics of songs must be in the service booklet or on separate sheets prepared for the occasion. If you want people to sing, you must have the lyrics available.  However, the service booklet is often better presented without the lyrics.

When you discuss the music with the priest, involve the musicians. We can assist with advice on what to choose (and what the musicians can sing or play is important) and how many verses of each hymn.

You must also decide with the priest whether the parts of the Mass are to be sung. The music of a Mass is to facilitate participation. Some priests really like the Mass parts to be sung because it brings the assembly together.

This reasoning also applies to the hymn selection. Choose well known music that all can sing even if many present are not regular church goers. Recorded music leaves the assembly out of the service.

Music in the Church after the service is usually not appropriate as people leave the church with the recession. Music before the service is useful to encourage some solemnity. It is not necessary to include a ‘gathering’ hymn in the service booklet. We will usually sing one or two hymns of our choice anyway because it helps to warm up voices and get used to instruments and the sound system.

When you have selected the music and the Funeral Director is preparing the booklet, please send the musicians a copy of the draft. There is much that can go wrong and cause embarrassment and disappointment if the musicians do not know what is planned.

Funeral music selection.mp3

Something Different

In 2004, a group of Philippinos walked into the (now) Catholic Cathedral of Broken Bay as I was practicing on the organ and said "We want to sing here". One of the first songs they taught me was one written by one of them and given without restriction to the music of worship.  It is called "Fiat" and it has become a popular hymn in the parish.  Later they introduced us to "Blessed be God", written by a Nun in the Philippines who remains anonymous. 

These people bring such wonderful music to the world.  It is my great pleasure and honour to still be playing for them and learning from them.  Indeed, one of the leaders of the choir, Leo Herrera, is in a major way responsible for the opportunity that led to SaM.

Listen to these two offertory hymns.  The flautist is my lovely daughter-in-law, Tamaryn.

Fiat.mp3

Blessed be God.mp3

 Requiem Mass Music Suggestions

Entrance:

Three verses only

  • Come As You Are
  • Strong And Constant
  • Christ Be Our Light
  • You Are Mine
  • Here I Am Lord
  • Be Not Afraid
  • Only A Shadow
  • On Eagles' Wings

There is usually no Kyrie or Gloria at a requiem Mass

Responsorial Psalm

  • The Lord Is My Shepherd (Boniwell)
  • The Lord is my Shepherd (Crimmond)
  • As The Deer Longs
  • The psalm for Requiem Mass.

Gospel Acclamation

  • Sing Hallelujah to the Lord

(if a verse is to be sung, we can fit the words to a suitable common Alleluia)

Dedication of the Gifts

Two verses is usually long enough at this point in the service

  • The Lord Is My Shepherd (Boniwell)
  • The Lord Is my Shepherd (Crimmond)
  • You Are Mine
  • A New Commandment
  • Gentle Woman
  • Blessed Be God
  • Fiat
  • Blest are They

Sanctus: (Holy! Holy!) If sung, Mass Of St Francis

Memorial Acclamation: If sung, Mass Of St Francis

If the Acclamation is printed in the service booklet be sure that the priest and musicians know which of the three Mass Of St Francis acclamations is to be sung.  If it is left to us we will sing "We proclaim your death....."

Amen: If Sung, Mass Of St Francis

Preface: we normally do not sing the preface – again, ensure the priest and booklet know this - but we do know how to lead a sung response if needed.

Agnus Dei: (Lamb of God), Mass Of St Francis

Communion:

It is best to select a Hymn with many verses so that the music lasts through the communion. We will sing as many verses as needed and not hold up the service with too many.

  • One Bread One Body
  • Peace I Leave With You My Friend
  • I have seen the Lord
  • Body of Christ
  • Eat This Bread
  • Eye has Not Seen
  • I Am The Bread Of Life

Thanksgiving:

It is not necessary to have a thanksgiving hymn.  It can be seen as simply adding time to the service - it has more to do with the Mass than the funeral, but if you have a favourite hymn which is not well known, or perhaps too difficult for the assembly to sing, or if you have family members who wish to sing for the service, either with our accompaniment or not, this is the time for it.

  • Ave Maria (Schubert) – copyright has expired but it is usually not printed as the cantor will sing it as a solo
  • Amazing Grace (Gospel or traditional)
  • Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – copyright is an issue with this song so it cannot be duplicated or printed
  • Sing of the Lord’s Goodness
  • On Eagles Wings
  • Abide With me

Sprinkling and incense blessing:

Depending on the Celebrant's preference, we will play some music for this part of the ceremony

Recession: Three verses

  • City of God
  • Strong and Constant
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Amazing Grace

Other Information

Of course, there are many more hymns that you might choose and we will endeavour to lead the music with your choices.

We are able to assist you in the planning of the service especially in the selection of music.

Please enquire as to our fee. It varies depending on rehearsal, equipment and access to the venue.

Please ask if you require references.