Dies Irae - Text

Text

The Latin text below is taken from the Requiem Mass in the 1962 Roman Missal. The first English version below, translated by William Josiah Irons in 1849, albeit from a slightly different Latin text, replicates the rhyme and metre of the original. This translation, edited for more conformance to the official Latin, is approved by the Catholic Church for use as the funeral mass sequence in the liturgy of the Anglican ordinariate. The second English version is a more formal equivalence translation.

01 Dies iræ! Dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibylla!
Day of wrath and doom impending,
David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending!
The day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the world in ashes
As foretold by David and the sibyl!
02 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.
How much tremor there will be,
when the judge will come,
investigating everything strictly!
03 Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth;
Through earth's sepulchres it ringeth;
All before the throne it bringeth.
The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound
through the sepulchres of the regions,
will summon all before the throne.
04 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.
Death and nature will marvel,
when the creature arises,
to respond to the Judge.
05 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.
The written book will be brought forth,
in which all is contained,
from which the world shall be judged.
06 Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet, apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.
When the Judge his seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
When therefore the judge will sit,
whatever hides will appear:
nothing will remain unpunished.
07 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?
What am I, miserable, then to say?
Which patron to ask,
when the just may hardly be sure?
08 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!
King of tremendous majesty,
who freely savest those that have to be saved,
save me, source of mercy.
09 Recordare, Iesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
Ne me perdas illa die.
Think, kind Jesu! -my salvation
Caused thy wondrous Incarnation;
Leave me not to reprobation!
Remember, merciful Jesus,
That I am the cause of thy way:
Lest thou lose me in that day.
10 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?
Seeking me, thou sat tired:
thou redeemed having suffered the Cross:
let not so much hardship be lost.
11 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.
Just judge of revenge,
give the gift of remission
before the day of reckoning.
12 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!
I sigh, like the guilty one:
my face reddens in guilt:
Spare the supplicating one, God.
13 Qui Mariam absolvisti,
Et latronem exaudisti,
Mihi quoque spem dedisti.
Through the sinful woman shriven,
Through the dying thief forgiven,
Thou to me a hope hast given.
Thou who absolved Mary,
and heardest the robber,
gavest hope to me, too.
14 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!
My prayers are not worthy:
however, thou, Good, do good,
lest I am burned up by eternal fire.
15 Inter oves locum præsta,
Et ab hædis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.
With Thy sheep a place provide me,
From the goats afar divide me,
To Thy right hand do thou guide me.
Grant me a place among the sheep,
and take me out from among the goats,
setting me on the right side.
16 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.
Once the cursed have been rebuked,
sentenced to acrid flames:
Call thou me with the blessed.
17 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.
I meekly and humbly pray,
heart is as crushed as the ashes:
perform the healing of mine end.
18 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!
Tearful will be that day,
on which from the ash arises
the guilty man who is to be judged.
Spare him therefore, God.
19 Pie Iesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.
Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.
Merciful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.

Because the last two stanzas differ markedly in structure from the preceding stanzas, some scholars consider them to be an addition made in order to suit the great poem for liturgical use. The penultimate stanza Lacrimosa discards the consistent scheme of rhyming triplets in favor of a pair of rhyming couplets. The last stanza Pie Iesu abandons rhyme for assonance, and, moreover, its lines are catalectic.

In the liturgical reforms of 1969-1971, 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/absolved the sinful woman". In addition, a doxology is given after stanzas 6, 12 and 18:

O tu, Deus majestatis,
alme candor Trinitatis
nos coniunge cum beatis. Amen.
O God of majesty
nourishing light of the Trinity
join us with the blessed. Amen.
O thou, God of majesty,
gracious splendour of the Trinity
conjoin us with the blessed. Amen.

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