The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Day of Wrath, That Day Whose Knelling

For Advent

Words: Dies irę, dies illa, Thomas of Celano, Order of Friars Minor, Thirteenth Century.

Translation:  Justice John O'Hagan, 1874.

Source: Orby Shipley, Annus Sanctus: Hymns of the Church for the Ecclesiastical Year. Vol. 1. (London and New York: Burns and Oates, 1884), pp. 6-8.

Day of wrath, that day whose knelling 
Gives to flame this earthly dwelling ; 
Psalm and Sibyl thus foretelling. 

Oh, what agony of trembling, 
When the judge mankind assembling, 
Probeth all beyond dissembling. 

Pealing wondrous through the regions, 
Shall the trumpet force obedience, 
And the graves yield up their legions. 

Startled death and nature sicken, 
Thus to see the creature quicken, 
Waiting judgment terror-stricken. 

Open, then, with all recorded, 
Stands the book from whence awarded 
Doom shall pass with deed accorded. 

When the judge is throned in session, 
All things hid shall find confession, 
Unavenged be no transgression, 

Wretch, what then shall be my pleading? 
Who my patron interceding ? 
Scarce the just securely speeding. 

Thou, O king of awful splendour, 
Saving grace dost freely render ; 
Save me, fount of pity tender. 

Think, 'twas I, my lost condition, 
Caused, O pitying Lord, thy mission ; 
Spare my soul that day's perdition. 

Seeking me, thy footstep hasted ; 
Me to save, the cross was tasted ; 
Be not toil so mighty wasted. 

Righteous judge of retribution, 
Grant the gift of absolution 
Ere the day of restitution. 

Me my culprit heart accuses ; 
Inmost guilt my face suffuses ; 
Heal, O Lord, thy suppliant's bruises. 

Thou who Mary's sin hast shriven, 
Thou who broughtst the thief to heaven, 
Hope to me hast also given. 

Nothing worth is mine endeavour, 
Yet, in ruth, my soul deliver 
From the flame that burns for ever. 

With thy sheep, thy chosen, place me, 
Severed from the goats embrace me ; 
On thy right-hand, ransomed, place me. 

When the reprobate confounded 
Lie with wrathful fire surrounded, 
May my call to bliss be sounded. 

Crushed to dust and prostrate bending, 
All my heart contrition rending ; 
I implore thee, guaftd my ending. 

Oh, that awful day of mourning, 
When, from earthly dust returning, 
Guilty man shall bide his sentence ; 

Spare him, God, for his repentance. 
Jesus, Lord, thy mercy lending, 
Grant them rest, thy rest unending. 
Note from Shipley: 

6. Dies irae, dies ilia. Sequence in Mass for the Dead, from the Missal. By Thomas of Celano, Order of Friars Minor, Thirteenth Century. Day of wrath, that day whose knelling. Justice John O'Hagan, 1874.

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