Dies Irae   2 comments

The Day of Judgment Fra Angelico

Above:  The Day of Judgment, by Fra Angelico

Image in the Public Domain

Hymn Source = The Methodist Hymnal (1905), Methodist Episcopal Church and Methodist Episcopal Church, South

Original Latin Text by Thomas of Celano (circa 1200-1255/1265)

English Translation (1848) by William Josiah Irons (1812-1883)

Father Irons, a Tractarian priest of the Church of England, translated the Dies Irae after hearing a choir of priests sing the text at the requiem mass of Denis-Auguste Affre, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Paris, who died violently while trying to discourage violence during the French Revolution of 1848.


1.  Day of wrath! O day of mourning!

See the prophets’ warning,

Heaven and earth in ashes burning!

2.  O what fear man’s bosom rendeth,

When from heaven the Judge descendeth,

On whose sentence all dependeth!

3.  Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth;

Through earth’s sepulchers it ringeth;

All before the throne it bringeth.

4.  Death is struck, and nature quaking,

All creation is awaking,

To its Judge an answer making.

5.  Lo! the Book exactly worded,

Wherein all hath been recorded:

Thence shall judgment be awarded.

6.  When the Judge his seat attaineth,

And each hidden deed arraigneth,

Nothing unavenged remaineth.

7.  What shall I, frail man, be pleading?

Who for me be interceding,

When the just are mercy needing?

8.  King of Majesty tremendous,

Who dost free salvation send us,

Fount of pity, then befriend us!

9.  Think, good Jesu, my salvation

Cost thy wondrous Incarnation;

Leave me not to reprobation!

10.  Faint and weary, thou hast sought me,

On the Cross of suffering bought me.

Shall such grace be vainly brought me?

11.  Righteous Judge! for sin’s pollution

Grant thy gift of absolution,

Ere that day of retribution.

12.  Guilty, now I pour my moaning,

All my shame with anguish owning:

Spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning!

13.  Thou the sinful woman savedst;

Thou the dying thief forgavest;

And to me a hope vouchsafest.

14.  Worthless are my prayers and sighing,

Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,

Rescue me from fires undying!

15.  With thy favored sheep O place me!

Nor among the goats abase me;

But to thy right hand upraise me.

16.  While the wicked are confounded,

Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,

Call me with thy saints surrounded.

17.  Low I kneel, with heart submission,

See, like ashes, my contrition;

Help me in my last condition.

18.  Ah! that day of tears and mourning!

From the dust of earth returning

Man for judgment must prepare him;

19.  Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!

Lord, all pitying, Jesu blest,

Grant us thine eternal rest.

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