Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dies Irae

IMAGE: Appearance of Dies Irae in the street art of Kurt Wenner.

Centuries ago, in the Roman church, most high feasts had a "Sequence," a chant sung by the schola cantorum after the psalmody of the Graduale, and before the Gospel. By the early- to mid-20th century, few of them remained. Among them was one that is sung at Mass for All Souls Day, as well as at every Traditional Requiem Mass, the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), a foretelling of the Final Judgment. It dates to the thirteenth century, and is attributed to Thomas of Celano.

The following is sung by the monks Of The Abbey Of Notre Dame. The Latin text is presented here as well, followed by an English translation rendered by William Josiah Irons in 1849. By the mid- to late-1960s, as the trend toward the vernacular was in progress, it was the latter text which was used by the Saint Andrew Boys Choir.

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Dies iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibylla!

Day of wrath! O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the prophets' warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning!

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando iudex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus!

Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth,
when from heaven the Judge descendeth,
on whose sentence all dependeth.

Tuba, mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.

Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth;
through earth's sepulchers it ringeth;
all before the throne it bringeth.

Mors stupebit, et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
Iudicanti responsura.

Death is struck, and nature quaking,
all creation is awaking,
to its Judge an answer making.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus iudicetur.

Lo! the book, exactly worded,
wherein all hath been recorded:
thence shall judgment be awarded.

Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet, apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.

When the Judge his seat attaineth,
and each hidden deed arraigneth,
nothing unavenged remaineth.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix iustus sit securus?

What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
when the just are mercy needing?

Rex tremendæ maiestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.

King of Majesty tremendous,
who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us!

Recordare, Iesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
Ne me perdas illa die.

Think, good Jesus, my salvation
cost thy wondrous Incarnation;
leave me not to reprobation!

Quærens me, sedisti lassus:
Redemisti Crucem passus:
Tantus labor non sit cassus.

Faint and weary, thou hast sought me,
on the cross of suffering bought me.
shall such grace be vainly brought me?

Iuste iudex ultionis,
Donum fac remissionis
Ante diem rationis.

Righteous Judge! for sin's pollution
grant thy gift of absolution,
ere the day of retribution.

Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
Culpa rubet vultus meus:
Supplicanti parce, Deus.

Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
all my shame with anguish owning;
spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning!

Qui Mariam absolvisti,
Et latronem exaudisti,
Mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Thou the sinful woman savedst;
thou the dying thief forgavest;
and to me a hope vouchsafest.

Preces meæ non sunt dignæ:
Sed tu bonus fac benigne,
Ne perenni cremer igne.

Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
rescue me from fires undying!

Inter oves locum præsta,
Et ab hædis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.

With thy favored sheep O place me;
nor among the goats abase me;
but to thy right hand upraise me.

Confutatis maledictis,
Flammis acribus addictis:
Voca me cum benedictis.

While the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded
call me with thy saints surrounded.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis:
Gere curam mei finis.

Low I kneel, with heart submission,
see, like ashes, my contrition;
help me in my last condition.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla
iudicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:

Ah! that day of tears and mourning!
From the dust of earth returning
man for judgment must prepare him;
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!

Pie Iesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.

Lord, all pitying, Jesus blest,
grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.


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