Dies Irae

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Day of wrath, day that will dissolve the world into burning coals, as David bore witness with the Sibyl.

How great a tremor is to be, when the judge is to come briskly shattering every (grave).

A trumpet sounding an astonishing sound through the tombs of the region drives all (men) before the throne.

Death will be stunned and (so) will Nature, when arises (man) the creature responding to the One judging.

The written book will be brought forth, in which the whole (record of evidence) is contained whence the world is to be judged.

Therefore when the Judge shall sit, whatever lay hidden will appear; nothing unavenged will remain.

O Thou, God of Majesty, nourishing brilliance of the Trinity, join us with the Blessed.

What am I the wretch then to say? what patron I to beseech? when scarcely the just (man) be secure.

King of tremendous Majesty, who saves those-to-be-saved free, save me, Fount of piety.

Remember, faithful Jesus, because I am the cause of your journey: do not lose me on that day.

Thou has sat down as one wearied seeking me, Thou has redeemed (me) having suffered the Cross: so much labor let it not be lost.

Just judge of the avenging-punishment, work the gift of the remission (of sins) before the Day of the Reckoning.

I groan, as the accused: my face grows red from (my) fault: spare (this) supplicant, O God.

O Thou, God of Majesty, nourishing brilliance of the Trinity, join us with the Blessed.

Thou who forgave Mary [the sinful woman], and favorably heard the (good) thief, hast also given me hope.

My prayers are not worthy, but do Thou, Good (God), deal kindly lest I burn in perennial fire.

Among the sheep offer (me) a place and from the goats sequester me, placing (me) at (Thy) right hand.

After the accursed have been silenced, given up to the bitter flames, call me with the blest.

Kneeling and bowed down I pray, My heart contrite as ashes: Do Thou {, my End,} care for my end.

That sorrowful day, on which will arise from the buring coals Man accused to be judged: therefore, O God, do Thou spare him.

Faithful Lord Jesus, grant them rest. Amen.

O Thou, God of Majesty, nourishing brilliance of the Trinity, join us with the Blessed. Amen.

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  1. In the 1970s-80s the Estonian and Russian Orthodox composer Arvo Part wrote a choral and symphonic work entitled Miserere. The Latin text of Psalm 51 is sung in a quiet contemplative mode, but imbedded in it is the Dies Irae as a furious four-minute firefall of music. You can listen to it on YouTube, here is one example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNy7pCOq7oI It works best if you have parallel Latin and English texts to read while you are listening.

    Part is still alive and composing, so please consider purchasing his music. I personally like his Te Deum, Litany, Stabat Mater, Tabula Rasa, and De Profundis even more than Miserere.

  2. When I was 13 we had had a terrible accident in our small rural community. 5 teenagers had been killed in a car accident. Three were Catholic and all funerals were the same Mass. I was in Catholic school and our choir sang Dies Irae. I can still sing that beautiful music.

  3. All the truth of our Catholic faith about death and the last day is in Dies Irae. i too remember hearing it, but, never sang it. So haunting! So majestic!
    I would love to hear it sung! I also remember Sister telling us about the ‘book that God will use
    On the last day’. Simplified words for little people, but, ’tis the truth, as is stated in the hymn. Nonetheless I believe to this day. Those nuns of that era were Saints. Their place in heaven surely is high, and, all their
    Good deeds we will see in shining golden letters in that book.

  4. Speaking of preparing for the “last day,” a well-known local news anchorman (from the CBS affiliate in my area) announced last night, on the air, that he has an inoperable brain tumor and probably has no more than 6 months to live:


    “As you know, I’m a born-again Christian, I believe I am in God’s hands, I am at peace and I know He is going to take care of the days ahead…. I hope I did good work (for) our viewers… that I served them and did things well.”

    A little bit of a different tone and emphasis, but the message is the same: we never know how much time we have left before our just and merciful God calls us home, and we need to use it well.

  5. So very sorry for Dave, and, for you also, Elaine. The video was poignant. I’ll pray to Our Lady for the success of the new treatment. She will ask her Son and He cannot refuse his Mother anything, if asked from the heart and soul. You have put up such a lovely picture of them.

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