I’ve been a fan of the Dias Irae, the traditional chant for the dead, since I first became aware of it and its bone-chilling beauty. Due to its unfortunate state of disuse in the liturgy, that did not happen until sometime around my college years, but as the video below makes clear, I had been hearing it many time before without knowing it. This fascinating video tracks the history of this amazing chant, especially as it has embedded itself deeply within popular culture, so that for Westerners at least, it can truly be considered the sountrack for the dead.
The music, of course, is haunting, but in case you’re wondering, here are the equally amazing lyrics in Latin and English. As I said, it is both appropriately bone-chilling and beautiful:
|1||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.
|2||Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando Judex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus!
|Oh, what fear man’s bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth.
|3||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.
|4||Mors stupebit et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
|Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.
|5||Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus judicetur.
|Lo, the book, exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded,
Thence shall judgement be awarded.
|6||Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.
|When the Judge his seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
|7||Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix justus sit securus?
|What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
When the just are mercy needing?
|8||Rex tremendæ majestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.
|King of Majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us!
|9||Recordare, Jesu 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.
|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?
|11||Juste Judex ultionis,
Donum fac remissionis,
Ante diem rationis.
|Righteous Judge, for sin’s pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution,
Ere the day of retribution.
|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!
|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.
|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.
|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.
Flammis acribus addictis,
Voca me cum benedictis.
|When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy saints surrounded.
|17||Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis,
Gere curam mei finis.
|Low I kneel, with heart’s submission,
See, like ashes, my contrition,
Help me in my last condition.
|18||Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla,
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:
|Ah! that day of tears and mourning,
From the dust of earth returning
Man for judgement must prepare him,
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.
|19||Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem. Amen.
|Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest. Amen.