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Dies Irae (The Day of Wrath)

Dies Irae

Dies Irae The Day of WrathThe Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of all nations. It will take place after the resurrection of the dead and the Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 20:12–15).

The doctrine, iconographic depiction and musical compositions of the “Last Judgment” are drawn from many passages from the apocalyptic sections of the Bible, but most notably from Jesus’ teaching of the strait gate in the Gospel of Matthew and also found in the Gospel of Luke.

Dies Irae (The Day of Wrath) has a prominent place among the seven great hymns of the Roman Catholic church describing the Day of Judgement. This hymn was composed by Thomas of Celanto (a small town in the Abruzzo Ulteriore).  He was one of the early disciples of St. Francis of Assisi, and held the office of Custos in various Franciscan houses from 1221 to the time of his death around 1255. He also wrote a biography of St. Francis, which is incorporated in the Acta Sanctorum.

The Dies Irae has been used in the Roman liturgy as the sequence for the Requiem Mass for centuries, as evidenced by the important place it holds in musical settings such as those by Mozart and Verdi. It appears in the Roman Missal of 1962, the Roman Breviary (the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office) and chanted in churches where the Tridentine Latin liturgy is celebrated. It is also a part of the traditional liturgy of All Souls’ Day.

Dies Irae in Latin and English Text

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.
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.
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.
Mors stupebit et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
Judicanti responsura.
Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.
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.
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.
When the Judge his seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
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?
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Confutatis maledictis,
Flammis acribus addictis,
Voca me cum benedictis.
When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy saints surrounded.
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.
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.
Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem. Amen.
Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest. Amen.

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them; and they were judged every one according to their works. And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire.” ~ Revelation 20:12-15

Signs of the Times of the Last Days


A Great Apostasy

As to this event St. Paul admonishes the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:3) that they must not be terrified, as if the day of the Lord were at hand, for there must first come a revolt (he apostasia). The Fathers and interpreters understand by this revolt a great reduction in the number of the faithful through the abandonment of the Christian religion by many nations. Some commentators cite as confirmatory of this belief the words of Christ: “But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

In the reforms to the Roman Catholic liturgy ordered by the Second Vatican Council, the “Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy”, the Vatican II body charged with drafting and implementing the reforms, eliminated the sequence as such from funerals and other Masses for the Dead. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as Dies Irae and Libera me, Domine.

The reign of Antichrist

In the passage above mentioned (2 Thessalonians 2:3 sqq.) St. Paul indicates as another sign of the day of the Lord, the revelation of the man of sin, the son of perdition. “The man of sin” here described is generally identified with the Antichrist, who, says St. John (1 John 2:18), is to come in the last days. Although much obscurity and difference of opinion prevails on this subject, it is generally admitted from the foregoing and other texts that before the Second Coming there will arise a powerful adversary of Christ, who will seduce the nations by his wonders, and persecute the Church.

Extraordinary Perturbations of Nature

The Scriptures clearly indicate that the judgment will be preceded by unwonted and terrifying disturbances of the physical universe (Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:25-26). The wars, pestilences, famines, and earthquakes foretold in Matthew 24:6 sq. are also understood by some writers as among the calamities of the last times.

The Universal Conflagration

In the Apostolic writings we are told that the end of the world will be brought about through a general conflagration, which, however, will not annihilate the present creation, but will change its form and appearance (2 Peter 3:10-13; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Apocalypse 3:3, and 16:15).

The Trumpet of Resurrection

Several texts in the New Testament make mention of a voice or trumpet which will awaken the dead to resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; John 5:28). According to St. Thomas (Supplement 86:2) there is a reference in these passages either to the voice or to the apparition of Christ, which will cause the resurrection of the dead.

“The sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens”

In Matthew 24:30, this is indicated as the sign immediately preceding the appearance of Christ to judge the world. By this sign, the Fathers of the Church generally understand the appearance in the sky of the Cross on which the Saviour died or else of a wonderful cross of light.


The Antichrist: Signs of Our Times by Venerable Fulton Sheen

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