For Us the Living: A Requiem
Alfred V. Fedak

Composer Alfred V. Fedak (see composer's introduction)
Text traditional
SATB, organ, opt. orchestra
Topics All Saints, Funeral
29' 45"
Price $9.75 - Vocal Score (U.S.)
Released 07/07
Catalog no. 440-820 (Vocal Score)
Difficulty Mod. easy to mod. difficult
Other Editions
Vocal Score-Spiral bound - 440-821 - $15
Conductor's Full Score - 440-822 - $95
Conductor's Study Score - 440-823 - $25
Instrumental Parts - 440-824 - $135
Chamber Orch. Full Score - 440-833 - $75
Chamber Orch. Study Score - 440-834 - $25
Chamber Orch. Inst.Parts - 440-824 - $50
Recording of premiere

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Download a review copy
A .pdf (Portable Document Format) file of this publication may be downloaded so that you may review it on your computer screen or print it out and review it at your leisure (this requires that you have a copy of Adobe® Acrobat Reader® on your computer). Click on the music below or on this link to download the entire score (of course, this is for review only, and may not be copied in any form), or get your copy of the free program Acrobat Reader by clicking on the logo below.

Recording of Premiere

Burnt Hills Oratorio Society
Rand Reeves, conductor
Gene Marie Callahan Kern, soprano soloist

Union College Memorial Chapel
Schenectady, N.Y.
April 22, 2007

(The following mp3s may be downloaded by clicking on each link)

I. Sentence

II. Introit: Requiem aeternam

III. Kyrie eleison

IV. The Lord Is My Shepherd

V. Sanctus and Benedictus

VI. Pie Jesu

VII. Agnus Dei

VIII. Valediction


S.A.T.B. choir and organ or

Chamber Orchestration

1 Flute
1 Oboe
Optional Harp
S.A.T.B. choir
1 Violin I
1 Violin II
1 Viola
1 Cello

Full Orchestration

2 Flutes
2 Oboes
1 English Horn
2 Bassoons
2 Horns
S.A.T.B. choir
2 Violin I
2 Violin II
2 Viola
2 Cello
1 Contrabass


"Alfred V. Fedak, a composer of numerous hymn tunes and octavos, has produced his first major work in For Us the Living. This requiem, commissioned by Clifford Lamere in memory of his parents, combines traditional elements found in the musical settings of Fauré and Rutter, as well as new textual ideas found in Eastern Orthodox rituals and in passages from the Apochrypha. Though composed as a concert work, the piece possesses a great deal of liturgical value and could conceivably be used in a worship setting.

Each movement of the work reveals the composer's ability to create beautiful melodies (some based in plainsong), rich harmonies, colorful orchestral effects, innovative counterpoint, and intense emotion with his chosen texts.

The opening Sentence, sung in English, introduces melodic material that will recur during the final measures of the Valediction, bringing the work full circle as a representation of a life cycle. The lyrical Introit leads into a Kyrie Eleison that clearly draws it inspiration from Gregorian chant; both of these movements rely on the traditional Latin texts. In the next movement, Psalm 23, well-known to every church musician, is set in English. The simplicity of the opening lines allows the text to speak clearly. The drama comes in the middle section ('the shadow of death'), reaching its climax at 'your rod and your staff, they comfort me' through intense chromaticism.

Written in triple meter, the percussive Sanctus introduces a new energy in the middle of the work. By contrast, the Benedictus resumes the beautiful lyricism of earlier movements. The solo aria, Pie Jesu, accompanied by harp in the orchestral version, is really more of a duet between the soprano and the solo violin. The gentleness of the melodic line recalls a lullaby, praying that the departed may sleep in peace.

Fedak introduces the Agnus Dei with an eight-measure chaconne, which reinforces the sense of the text as a litany. The middle section moves to Bb Major before returning to the chaconne fi gure to close the work with a slight textual twist. Instead of using the traditional text of Dona nobis pacem the composer changes the text to Dona nobis requiem underscoring the work's real intent as stated in the title, a prayer for us, the living.

Valediction, the farewell, opens with a simply beautiful four-part chorale, moves into a duet between the women and the men, and comes back to the hymn-like style to close with a gentle, serene Amen.

The choral writing lies comfortably within normal ranges; Fedak knows how to write for church choirs. Occasional three-part divisi for the female and male voices occurs in nearly every movement but is counterbalanced by an abundance of unison writing. Although the rich orchestration for paired winds, horns, harp, strings and organ, the vocal score features an extremely accessible organ reduction for use in smaller settings. Additionally, according to the composer's notes, movements may be performed separately. Fedak's requiem will prove to be an extremely useful and accessible work for church, college, and community choirs. The accompanying compact disc of the first performance is well performed and serves as a useful guide to tempi, registration, and vocal color." --Steven Young in The Choral Journal, June/July 2009

"Alfred V. Fedak's For Us the Living was conceived and first performed (last April) as a concert work, but it was also clearly composed with an eye on its liturgical viability. The text is drawn almost entirely from elements of the traditional Requiem (the Introit, Kyrie, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, and with a tiny caveat, the Agnus Dei). To these are added a short text from the Eastern Orthodox Kontakion for the Departed, familiar to us from the 1979 Burial Office: "All we go down to the dust...," as a first movement (connected to the following two, the Introit and Kyrie), a setting of Psalm 23, and a very nice "Valediction," based on short passages from Wisdom ("The souls of the righteous") and Tobit. Interestingly, the successive texts are sung in various languages: English for the opening movement, Latin and Greek for the following two, English for the Psalm (close, but not identical to, the 1979 BCP translation), back to Latin for the Sanctus, Pie Jesu, and Agnus, and English for the Valediction. The Agnus Dei is tweaked in two ways: rather than the conventional Requiem form (with 'dona eis requiem' in place of 'Miserere nobis'), the first two petitions end as in a regular Mass, and the third, after a bit of 'dona eis requiem,' closes with 'dona nobis requiem.' The piece is, as the title says, for us.

There are occasional flashes of familiar Requiem plainsong melodies in the Kyrie and the Agnus (and I may have missed other such references). The most memorable passages, for me, are the opening movement (whose very lovely substance returns in the instrumental postlude to the Valediction), the Psalm (with a striking chromatic climax for the "valley of the shadow of death"), and the very exciting Sanctus. Although Selah Publishing advertises the work as "mod. difficult," I would categorize it as rather easier than that; less taxing, for instance, than the Fauré Requiem, since long stretches here are in unison and the voices seldom fly without an accompanimental net. The piece weighs in at about 30 minutes, all told.

I suspect the scoring is a bit rich for most budgets: paired winds, horns, harp, and strings, plus organ. The reduction in the vocal score is manageable, and a bit of sensitive registration could make it quite convincing. But don't take my word for any of this: download or print an inspection copy of the piece at Selah's website, where you can also listen to a recording of any or all of it (in the orchestral version). Technology is great!" --AAM Journal, Jan. 2008

For Us the Living: A Requiem commissioned in memory of William and Ethel Lamere, premiered by the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, Rand Reeves, conductor, on April 22, 2007, in the Union College Memorial Chapel, Schenectady, N.Y.

From the Composer
For Us the Living was commissioned by Clifford Lamere of Albany, New York, to honor the memory of his parents, William and Ethel Lamere. But while the work was intended as a memorial to two specific individuals, its message is universal. For although it fully acknowledges the twin realities of death and grief, For Us the Living is meant to serve as a grateful affirmation of the gift of life, and as an expression of comfort, consolation, hope, and encouragement to all who have suffered loss. It is, quite literally, a requiem for us, the living.

The title, of course, is drawn from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which (to paraphrase) admits that there is, in truth, very little which we the living can do to honor our departed loved ones, except to commit ourselves to the noblest principles by which they lived, and to complete the work which they left unfinished. Simply put, we best honor our dead by the way we live.

The work's opening movement quotes the Eastern Orthodox Kontakion for the Departed: "All we go down to the dust, yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia." While this opening sentence is, in reality, a death sentence, at its heart lies a heroic existentialism: there is something persistently and joyfully defiant about singing Alleluias at one's own grave, or for that matter, at the start of a choral requiem.

For Us the Living was conceived as a concert work, but none of its words would seem out of place at a church funeral or memorial service. To the traditional liturgical texts (Introit, Kyrie, Sanctus and Benedictus, Pie Jesu, and Agnus Dei) I have added, besides the Orthodox verse quoted above, a setting of Psalm 23, and a final section called "Valediction" (meaning a leave-taking or farewell), which includes two passages from the Apocrypha: the well-known Justorum animae ("The Souls of the Righteous") from the Book of Wisdom, and a verse from the book of Tobit. The closing measures of the Agnus Dei further underscore the work's real intent: the prayer’s final petition, "Dona eis requiem" (grant them rest) becomes "Dona nobis requiem" -- grant us rest.

I. Sentence
II. Introit: Requiem aeternam
III. Kyrie eleison
IV. The Lord Is My Shepherd
V. Sanctus and Benedictus
VI. Pie Jesu
VII. Agnus Dei
VIII. Valediction

I. Sentence: All We Go Down to the Dust
All we go down to the dust,
yet even at the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
--Orthodox Kontakion for the Departed

II. Introit: Requiem aeternam
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion,
et tibi redetur votum in Jerusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam:
ad te omnis caro veniet.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon them.
Hymns will be sung to you, O God in Zion,
and to you will homage be paid in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer:
to you shall all flesh come.

III. Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison. Christe Eleison.Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

IV. The Lord Is My Shepherd
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul and guides me along right pathways
for his Name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil, for you are with me,
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me.
You have anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
--Translation from the Book of Common Prayer (1979)

V. Sanctus and Benedictus
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth!
Pleni sunt coeli et terra Gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Benedictus qui venit
in nominee Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis!

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He who comes
in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

VI. Pie Jesu (soprano solo)
Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem.
Dona eis sempiternam requiem.

Gentle Lord Jesus, grant them rest.
Grant them eternal rest.

VII. Agnus Dei (Chaconne)
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem.
Dona nobis requiem.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest.
Grant us rest.

VIII. Valediction
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and there no torment shall touch them.
In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, but they are at peace.
Come then, be joyful for the righteous,
for they shall be gathered together,
And shall praise the eternal God forever. Amen.
--Wisdom 3:1-4, Tobit 13:13


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