The instrumental movements form the frame of the work. The first movement is a Prelude for strings. The middle (fifth) movement is an Interlude for winds. The last movement, and the longest, is the percussion Postlude.
Stravinsky set the Proper of the Mass is set. He had in fact set the Ordinary in his Mass. The six verses from Dies irae are:
According to a program note for George Balanchine's performance in memory of Martin Luther King, Stravinsky claimed:
I planned my Requiem Canticles as an instrumental work, and I composed the threnody for wind instruments and muffled drums first. Later, I decided to use sentences from six texts of the traditional Requiem service, and at that time I conceived the instrumental frame of a string Prelude, and wind-instrument Interlude, and a percussion Postlude.... I am honored that my music is to be played in memory of a man of God, a man of the poor, a man of peace.
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