Dies Irae

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Dies Irae  (1849) 
by Tommaso da Celano, translated by William Josiah Irons
famous Latin hymn originally scripted by Tommaso da Celano. Often considered one of the foremost and widely known hymns of its time, it is distinguished by its classical three-line, perfect-rhyme stanza.

The Latin text is taken from the Requiem Mass in the 1962 Roman Missal. The English version below was translated by William Josiah Irons in 1849 and appears in the English Missal. Note that the below translation is not literal, but modified to fit the rhyme and meter. — Excerpted from Dies Irae on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

See also: Dies Iræ in Catholic Encyclopedia (1913).

Day of wrath! O day of mourning!William Josiah Irons

1
Dies iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sibylla!

2
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!

3
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulchra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.

4
Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
judicanti responsura.

5
Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus judicetur.

6
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit:
nil inultum remanebit.

7
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?

8
Rex tremendæ majestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.

9
Recordare, Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
ne me perdas illa die.

10
Quærens me, sedisti lassus:
redemisti Crucem passus:
tantus labor non sit cassus.

11
Juste judex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis
ante diem rationis.

12
Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
culpa rubet vultus meus:
supplicanti parce, Deus.

13
Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.

14
Preces meæ non sunt dignæ:
sed tu bonus fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.

15
Inter oves locum præsta,
et ab hædis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextra.

16
Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis:
voca me cum benedictis.

17
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis:
gere curam mei finis.

1
Day of wrath! O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the prophets' warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning!

2
Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth,
when from heaven the Judge descendeth,
on whose sentence all dependeth.

3
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth;
through earth's sepulchers it ringeth;
all before the throne it bringeth.

4
Death is struck, and nature quaking,
all creation is awaking,
to its Judge an answer making.

5
Lo! The book, exactly worded,
wherein all hath been recorded:
thence shall judgment be awarded.

6
When the Judge his seat attaineth,
and each hidden deed arraigneth,
nothing unavenged remaineth.

7
What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
when the just are mercy needing?

8
King of Majesty tremendous,
who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us!

9
Think, good Jesus, my salvation
cost thy wondrous Incarnation;
leave me not to reprobation!

10
Faint and weary, thou hast sought me,
on the cross of suffering bought me.
shall such grace be vainly brought me?

11
Righteous Judge! For sin's pollution
grant thy gift of absolution,
ere the day of retribution.

12
Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
all my shame with anguish owning;
spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning!

13
Thou the sinful woman savedst;
thou the dying thief forgavest;
and to me a hope vouchsafest.

14
Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
rescue me from fires undying!

15
With thy favored sheep O place me;
nor among the goats abase me;
but to thy right hand upraise me.

16
While the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded
call me with thy saints surrounded.

17
Low I kneel, with heart submission,
see, like ashes, my contrition;
help me in my last condition.

The poem appears complete as it stands at this point. Some scholars question whether the remainder is an addition made in order to suit the great poem for liturgical use, for the last stanzas discard the consistent scheme of triple rhymes in favor of rhymed couplets, while the last two lines abandon rhyme for assonance and are, moreover, catalectic:

18
Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:

19
Pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.

18
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!

19
Lord, all pitying, Jesus blest,
grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.

In 1970 the Dies Iræ was removed from the Missal and since 1971 it is proposed ad libitum as a hymn for the Liturgy of the Hours at the Office of Readings, Lauds and Vespers. For this purpose stanza 19 was deleted and the poem divided into three sections: 1-6 (for the Office of Readings), 7-12 (for Lauds) and 13-18 (for Vespers). In addition Qui Mariam absolvisti in stanza 13 was replaced by Peccatricem qui solvisti so that that line would now mean, "You who freed the sinful woman". In addition a doxology is given after stanzas 6, 12 and 18:

doxology:
O tu, Deus majestatis,
alme candor Trinitatis
nos coniunge cum beatis. Amen.

doxology:
O God of majesty
nourishing light of the Trinity
join us with the blessed. Amen.


This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.