The scene takes place just before dawn at Leonato's family tomb, where Claudio and Don Pedro are to demonstrate their grief for Hero, whom they suppose dead. First, a verse that Claudio has written is read aloud and hung on the tomb. The reading is followed by a song of mourning. As dawn breaks, Claudio and Don Pedro return to the villa to change clothes for Claudio's approaching marriage, presumably to Antonio's daughter.
Editions of Shakespeare differ about who reads Claudio's epitaph and who sings the song. For example, in the Oxford University Press edition, Claudio reads the poem and Balthasar sings the song; in the Cambridge University Press edition, an unnamed lord reads and sings both.
The scene provides an emotional contrast with the Beatrice/Benedick scene that precedes it and with the joyous scene that follows it.
ACT V. Scene 3. The Inside of a Church.
[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and Attendants, with music and
Is this the monument of Leonato?
It is, my lord.
[Reads from a scroll.]
Done to death by slanderous tongues
Was the Hero that here lies:
Death, in guerdon of her wrongs,
Gives her fame which never dies.
So the life that died with shame
Lives in death with glorious fame.
Hang thou there upon the tomb,
Praising her when I am dumb.
Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.
Pardon, goddess of the night,
Those that slew thy virgin knight;
For the which, with songs of woe,
Round about her tomb they go.
Midnight, assist our moan;
Help us to sigh and groan,
Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
Till death be uttered,
Now, unto thy bones good night!
Yearly will I do this rite.
Good morrow, masters: put your torches out.
The wolves have prey'd; and look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey.
Thanks to you all, and leave us: fare you well.
Good morrow, masters: each his several way.
Come, let us hence, and put on other weeds; And then to Leonato's
we will go.
And Hymen now with luckier issue speed's,
Than this for whom we rend'red up this woe!