Hymn III. DIES IRAE. The Great Judgment Hymn.

TUNE. – Constancy. From the „German Chorales“, very old and much used on the Continent.

THIS great hymn, originally consisting of nineteen strophes of three lines each, is the work of Thomas of Celano (a town of Italy, of some six thousand of a population twenty-eight miles south of Aquila).  He was born 1185 and died 1255.  He was the companion and biographer of Francis of Assisi, both very famous in their day, the one, as the father of itinerant preaching friars; the other, as the chief poet of his country, and whose one judgment hymn roused the slumbering choirs of Europe, and is still making the hearts of every one that hears it tingle.  The earliest book in which it is found is the „Missale Romanum“, printed at Pavia 1491.  It probably first saw the light early in the thirteenth century, and through all the intervening years it has been as a light and an echo from the eternal world.

Dr. Trench’s translation is as follows:  ̶

O THAT day! that day of ire!
Told of prophet, when on fire,
Shall a world dissolved expire!

Oh what terror shall be then,
When the Judge shall come again
Strictly searching deeds of men!

When a trump of awful tone
Thro‘ the caves sepulchral blown
Summons all before the throne.

What amazement shall o’ertake
Nature when the dead shall wake
Answer to the Judge to make!

Open then the book shall lie,
All o’erwrit for every eye
With a world’s iniquity.

When the Judge his place has ta’en
All things hid shall be made plain,
Nothing unrevenged remain.

What then wretched! Shall I speak
Or what intercession seek
When the just man’s cause is weak.

Jesus Lord, remember pray,
I the cause was of the way
Do not lose me on that day!

King of awful majesty,
Who the saved dost freely free,
Fount of mercy, pity me.

Tired thou satest seeking me,
Crucified to let me free,
Let such pain not fruitless be!

Terrible avenger make
Of thy mercy me partake,
Ere that day of vengeance wake.

As a criminal I groan,
Blushing deep the faults I own,
Grace be to a suppliant shewn.

Thou who Mary didst forgive
And who badst the robber live,
Hope to me dost also give.

Tho‘ my prayers unworthy be,
Yet, O let me graciously
From the fire eternal free.

Mid the sheep my place command,
From the goats far off to stand:
Set me Lord at thy right hand

And when them who scorned Thee here,
Thou hast judged to doom severe,
Bid me with the saved draw near.

Lying low before thy throne
Crushed my heart in dust I groan
Grace be to a suppliant shewn.

A still better translation is that of General Dix, an American citizen, who in the late war won distinction for himself as a soldier, but who years before had won no less distinction as a scholar in the High School, Montreal, during the family’s sojourn in that city, while the father as Civil Engineer was carrying through a great undertaking. But we have only room for three verses which may serve as a specimen.

Translation by General Dix.

Day of vengeance without morrow:
Earth shall end in flame and sorrow,
As from saint and seer we borrow.

Ah what terror is impending,
When the Judge is seen decending,
And each secret vail is rending!

To the throne the trumpet sounding,
Through the sepulchres resounding,
Summons all with voice astounding.

The following is the hymn in the original:  ̶

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,
Salve me, fons pietatis.

9. Recordare Jesu pie,
Quid 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 tanquam 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. Consors ut beatatis
Vivam cum justificatis
In ævum æternatis. *

18. Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis:
Gere curam mei finis.

19. Lacrymosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus,
Huic ergo parce Deus.

* Dr. Trench has not translated this verse,  ̶  literally „that I may forever be a companion of the blessed and live with the justified.“


Rev. Duncan Morrison, The Great Hymns of the Church, pp. 28-42. Toronto, Canada: Hart & Com­pa­ny, 1890. [Digitalisat]

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10 KJV)

Weblinks und Verweise

Jenen Tag, den Tag der Wehen (Knapp, Württ. Gesangbuch #538)

Jenen Tag, den Tag der Wehen (Knapp, Württ. Choralbuch)

Are you ready for judgement day?

Day of wrath, O day of mourning! (Thomas of Celano, John B. Dykes)

Choralsatz, 4stimmig (1844, pdf)

Liedeintrag bei Hymnary.org, mit zahlreichen Gesangbucheinträgen

Dies ira dies illa, Eintrag bei Wikipedia (DE)

Siehe auch: Libera me, domine (Fauré)

Eingestellt am 23. Dezember 2023