Day of Wrath
One of the most famous melodies of the Gregorian Chant, Dies Irae was traditionally ascribed to Thomas of Celano (d 1260), but now is usually attributed to an unknown Franciscan of that period. The piece is based upon Zep 1:14-16, a reflection upon the final judgment. It was formerly part of the Mass of the Dead and the Office of the Dead. Today it is found in the Liturgia Horarum for the last week of Ordinary time (34th). In placing it there, the emphasis is upon the upcoming Advent season and the Second Coming of Christ. In Diocese of the United States, it is still used in the Office of the Dead and the Feast of All Souls (Nov. 2).
Many have complained about the depressing nature of the opening verses, but while the piece is certainly sobering, there is a note of hope as well later on in the hymn. Judgment, which is eternal, is indeed a fearsome prospect for us sinners, but, as Christians, we also realize we have Christ as our Savior.
| DIES irae, dies illa,
solvet saeculum in favilla,
teste David cum Sibylla.
| THAT day of wrath,
that dreadful day,
shall heaven and earth in ashes lay,
as David and the Sybil say.
| Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando iudex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!
| What horror must invade the mind
when the approaching Judge shall find
and sift the deeds of all mankind!
| Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulcra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.
| The mighty trumpet's wondrous tone
shall rend each tomb's sepulchral stone
and summon all before the Throne.
| Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
| Now death and nature with surprise
behold the trembling sinners rise
to meet the Judge's searching eyes.
| Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus iudicetur.
| Then shall with universal dread
the Book of Consciences be read
to judge the lives of all the dead.
| Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit:
nil inultum remanebit.
| For now before the Judge severe
all hidden things must plain appear;
no crime can pass unpunished here.
| Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
quem patronum rogaturus?
cum vix iustus sit securus.
| O what shall I, so guilty plead?
and who for me will intercede?
when even Saints shall comfort need?
| Rex tremendae maiestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.
| O King of dreadful majesty!
grace and mercy You grant free;
as Fount of Kindness, save me!
| Recordare Iesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae:
ne me perdas illa die.
| Recall, dear Jesus, for my sake
you did our suffering nature take
then do not now my soul forsake!
| Quaerens me, sedisti lassus:
redemisti crucem passus:
tantus labor non sit cassus.
| In weariness You sought for me,
and suffering upon the tree!
let not in vain such labor be.
| Iuste iudex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis,
ante diem rationis.
| O Judge of justice, hear, I pray,
for pity take my sins away
before the dreadful reckoning day.
| Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
culpa rubet vultus meus:
supplicanti parce Deus.
| You gracious face, O Lord, I seek;
deep shame and grief are on my cheek;
in sighs and tears my sorrows speak.
| Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.
| You Who did Mary's guilt unbind,
and mercy for the robber find,
have filled with hope my anxious mind.
| Preces meae non sunt dignae:
sed tu bonus fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.
| How worthless are my prayers I know,
yet, Lord forbid that I should go
into the fires of endless woe.
| Inter oves locum praesta,
et ab haedis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextera.
| Divorced from the accursed band,
o make me with Your sheep to stand,
as child of grace, at Your right Hand.
| Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis.
voca me cum benedictis.
| When the doomed can no more flee
from the fires of misery
with the chosen call me.
| Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis:
gere curam mei finis.
| Before You, humbled, Lord, I lie,
my heart like ashes, crushed and dry,
assist me when I die.
| Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla.
iudicandus homo reus:
huic ergo parce Deus.
| Full of tears and full of dread
is that day that wakes the dead,
calling all, with solemn blast
to be judged for all their past.
| Pie Iesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.
| Lord, have mercy, Jesus blest,
grant them all Your Light and Rest. Amen.
Latin from Roman Breviary. Translation from the 1962 Missal, which is partially based upon the work of Fr. James Ambrose Dominic Aylward (1813-1872) and William F. Wingfield (1813-1874)