Friday, November 27, 2020

Sunday Sermon, November 22nd -- The Day of Wrath is the Day of Our Salvation, Dies Irae (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 The final Sunday of the Liturgical Year, we consider the end of time and the day of judgment.  In addition to the particular judgment that we each will face at the moment of death, there is will be a general judgment at the end of time in which all will be revealed.  This general judgment is the  manifestation of each one's particular judgment and also the final triumph of divine providence over all history.

We consider also the great hymn/sequence, Dies Irae.

Listen online [here]!


Dies irae, dies illa

solvet saeclum in favilla:

teste David cum Sibylla.


Quantus tremor est futurus,

quando judex est venturus,

cuncta stricte discussurus!


Tuba mirum spargens sonum

per sepulcra regionum,

coget omnes ante thronum.


Mors stupebit et natura,

cum resurget creatura,

judicanti responsura.


Liber scriptus proferetur,

in quo totum continetur,

unde mundus judicetur.


Judex ergo cum sedebit,

quidquid latet apparebit:

nil inultum remanebit.


Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?

Quem patronum rogaturus,

cum vix justus sit securus?


Rex tremendae majestatis,

qui salvandos salvas gratis,

salva me fons pietatis.


Recordare, Jesu pie,

quod sum causa tuae viae:

ne me perdas illa die.


Quaerens me, sedisti lassus:

redemisti Crucem passus:

tantus labor non sit cassus.


Juste judex ultionis,

donum fac remissionis

ante diem rationis.


Ingemisco, tamquam reus:

culpa rubet vultus meus:

supplicanti parce, Deus.


Qui Mariam absolvisti,

et latronem exaudisti,

mihi quoque spem dedisti.


Preces meae non sunt dignae:

sed tu bonus fac benigne,

ne perenni cremer igne.


Inter oves locum praesta,

et ab haedis me sequestra,

statuens in parte dextra.


Confutatis maledictis,

flammis acribus addictis:

voca me cum benedictis.


Oro supplex et acclinis,

cor contritum quasi cinis:

gere curam mei finis.


Lacrimosa dies illa,

qua resurget ex favilla

Judicandus homo reus.

Huic ergo parce, Deus:


Pie Jesu Domine,

dona eis requiem. Amen.

Day of wrath and doom impending,

David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,

Heaven and earth in ashes ending.


O what fear man’s bosom rendeth,

When from heaven the Judge descendeth,

On whose sentence all dependeth.


Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,

Through earth’s sepulchers it ringeth,

All before the throne it bringeth.


Death is struck, and nature quaking,

All creation is awaking,

To its Judge an answer making.


Lo, the book exactly worded,

Wherein all hath been recorded,

Thence shall judgment be awarded.


When the Judge His seat attaineth,

And each hidden deed arraigneth,

Nothing unavenged remaineth.


What shall I, frail man, be pleading?

Who for me be interceding

When the just are mercy needing?


King of majesty tremendous,

Who dost free salvation send us,

Fount of pity, then befriend us.


Think, kind Jesus, my salvation

Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation,

Leave me not to reprobation.


Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,

On the Cross of suffering bought me,

Shall such grace be vainly brought me?


Righteous Judge, for sin’s pollution

Grant Thy gift of absolution,

Ere that day of retribution.


Guilty now I pour my moaning,

All my shame with anguish owning,

Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.


Through the sinful woman shriven,

Through the dying thief forgiven,

Thou to me a hope hast given.


Worthless are my prayers and sighing,

Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,

Rescue me from fires undying.


With Thy sheep a place provide me,

From the goats afar divide me,

To Thy right hand do Thou guide me.


When the wicked are confounded,

Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,

Call me with Thy Saints surrounded.


Low I kneel with heart’s submission,

See, like ashes, my contrition,

Help me in my last condition.


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.


Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,

Grant them Thine eternal rest.  Amen.

A day of wrath that day will be. It will dissolve the world into glowing ashes, as David and the Sibyl have testified.


How great a dread there will be when the Judge comes to examine all things in strict justice.


The trumpet's wondrous call will sound in tombs the world over and urge everybody forward to the throne.


Death and nature will stand amazed when creation rises again to give answer to its Judge.


Then will be brought out the book in which is written the complete record that will decide each man's fate.


And when the Judge is seated, all secret sin will be made known, and no sin will go without its due punishment.


In such a plight what can I then plead? Or

whom can I ask to plead for me, when the just man will be saved only with difficulty?


King of dread majesty, You give salvation's grace to all that will be saved. Save me, fount of pity.


In Your pity, Jesus, call to mind that I am the reason why You became man. Do not cast me from You on that day.


It was me You were seeking out when, exhausted, You sat by the well; me that You redeemed when You suffered on the cross. Do not allow such toil to have been in vain.


Just and avenging Judge, grant me the grace of pardon before that day of

reckoning comes.


I groan like one condemned and am red with shame for my sins; spare Your suppliant servant.


You forgave Mary and granted the robber's prayer, and thus gave me hope as well.


Though my prayers do not deserve to be heard, yet in Your goodness graciously bring it about that I do not burn in the unquenchable fire.


Give me a place among Your sheep, separate me from the goats and set me on Your right hand.


When the accursed have been silenced and sentenced to the acrid flames, call me along with the blessed.


In humility and abasement I make this prayer. My heart is burnt to ashes in the fire of my sorrow. Take care of me when my end is come.


That day when guilty man rises out of the ruins of the world for judgement, will be a day of tears and mourning. Spare him on that day, Lord God.


Jesus, Lord, of Your mercy grant them rest. Amen.



Dies Irae

Sequence of the Requiem Mass by Thomas of Celano

Composed about 1250, though early versions may date back to the year 600


Versions for listening:

Most important is to appreciate the Gregorian Chant version of the Dies Irae. (about 6 minutes)


Mozart: Requiem Sequence, Dies Irae (about 2 minutes for the opening, or 20 minutes for the whole)

Verdi: Requiem Sequence, Dies Irae (about 4 ½ minutes for the opening, or 35 minutes for the whole)


[Most often, the online recordings of these versions by Mozart and Verdi only include the opening two stanza from Dies irae to cuncta stricte discussurus, but have extensive repetition of these six lines. If you search a bit, you can find the complete versions which are quite long, and again with much repetition of lines. Verdi’s composition is closer to an opera and is not considered appropriate for use in the Mass, but Mozart’s has often been sung for Catholic funerals and All Souls’ Day Masses.]


Faure: Pie Jesu (about 3 ½ minutes)

Lloyd-Weber: Pie Jesu (about 3 ½ minutes)


[By contrast, these two versions only include the last stanza Pie Jesu Domine / Dona eis requiem, also with much repetition of these two lines. In these two versions, the Pie Jesu is part of the larger Requiem Mass but removed from the usual place in the Dies Irae Sequence.]



Brief Information

Although there are some traditions which claim an early version of the Dies Irae was given in a revelation to Pope St Gregory the Great around the year 600, it was mostly likely written in about 1250 by Thomas of Celano, who was the friend of St Francis of Assisi and wrote the first biography of the Saint. The Dies Irae is the Sequence fromm the Requiem Mass. The Requiem Mass is the Mass for funerals, for All Souls’ Day and for other Masses for the Dead (especially in the month of November). As the Sequence, the Dies Irae is sung just before the Gospel. After Vatican II, the Dies Irae was mostly removed from the Mass and is used only for the All Souls’ Day Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours when praying the Office for the Dead. Happily, since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI restored the public and common use of the Traditional Latin Mass, the Dies Irae is heard much more often again! 


Though traditionally sung at the funeral Mass and on All Souls’ Day, the Dies Irae is somewhat ironically not really about death, but rather is a meditation on the Day of Judgement and the Second Coming of Christ.  The funeral Mass points to the resurrection of the body, and in this way the Dies Irae is suited to the Christian Funeral Rites as reflecting upon the day of the Final Resurrection of all.


The Dies Irae is comprised of fifty-seven lines in nineteen stanza, with what is called “double rhyme” or “feminine rhyme” in which the final two syllables of each of the three lines in the stanza rhyme (excepting the final six lines which follow a different scheme, and were likely added by a later author).


Excerpts of praise for the Dies Irae: “It is the chief glory of sacred poetry and the most precious treasure of the Latin Church.” In comparison with every other hymn outside of those contained in the Bible, “beyond them all, and before them all, and above them all may, perhaps be placed Dies irae, by Thomas of Celano.” “Among gems it is the diamond. It is solitary in its excellence.” “This marvelous hymn is the acknowledged masterpiece of Latin poetry and the most sublime of all uninspired hymns.” Others speak of “the Dies iræ in its unapproached glory.”


For examples online, see YouTube:

Gregorian chant:

Mozart, opening lines:

Mozart, complete Requiem:

Verdi, opening lines: 

Verdi, full Dies Irae:

Llyod-Webber, Pie Jesu:

Faure, Pie Jesu:



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