Monday, 5 November 2012

Latin prayer of the week: Requiem aeternam

I'm resuming of Latin prayers from the Compendium of the Catechism that everyone should know, and as November is the month when we especially remember the suffering souls in purgatory.

A prayer for the dead

So here is a prayer that carries with it a partial indulgence for the dead:

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

or in English:

"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen."

The prayer is ancient in origin, but its authorship is a mystery.

Looking at the Latin

This is one of those prayers that you will often here in several different forms, so here are a few clues to the different versions.

The first two lines are used in the Introit for funeral masses, as well as the doxology for the psalms in the Office of the Dead:

Réquiem (rest/respite/repose) ætérnam (forever/eternal) dona (give) eis (to them), Dómine (O Lord), et (and) lux (light) perpétua (constant/perpetual) lúceat (let it shine) eis (on them).

But you might also come across it as a prayer for just one person:

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei (him/her), Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat ei.

The final line is a used as a concluding prayer in many places:

Requiéscant (They may rest/Let them rest/May they rest) in (in) pace (peace). Amen.

In the singular it is:

Requiescat in pace.  Amen.

Surprisingly I couldn't find a sound file online that just reads out the prayer.  Never mind, treat this as a chance to learn the first two lines as they appear in the Introit of the Mass for the Dead.


Matthew Roth said...

Of course, the end of the prayer is the dismissal from the Requiem Mass, in the singular form.

Kate Edwards said...

Yes it does appear as the dismissal - but actually in the plural as above I think you'll find Matthew.