The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

That Day of Wrath and Grief and Shame

For Advent

Words: Dies irę, dies illa

Translation:  Very Rev. Prior James A. Dominic Aylward, Order of Preachers, 1843-1850.

Source: Orby Shipley, Annus Sanctus: Hymns of the Church for the Ecclesiastical Year. Vol. 1. (London and New York: Burns and Oates, 1884), pp. 21-23.

That day of wrath and grief and shame, 
Shall fold the world in sheeted flame, 
As psalm and Sibyl songs proclaim. 

What terror on each breast shall lie 
When, downward from the bending sky, 
The judge shall come our souls to try. 

The trump, through death's dominions blown, 
Shall summon with a dreadful tone 
The buried nations round the throne. 

Nature and death in dumb surprise 
Shall see the ancient dead arise, 
To stand before the judge's eyes. 

And lo, the written book appears, 
Which all that faithful record bears, 
From whence the world its sentence hears. 

The Lord of judgment sits him down, 
And every secret thing makes known ; 
No crime escapes his vengeful frown. 

Ah, how shall I that day endure ? 
What patron's friendly voice secure, 
When scarce the just themselves are sure ? 

O king of dreadful majesty, 
Who grantest grace and mercy free, 
Grant mercy now and grace to me. 

Good Lord, 'twas for my sinful sake, 
That thou our suffering flesh didst take ; 
Then do not now my soul forsake. 

Thou soughtest me when I had strayed ; 
Thy blood divine my ransom paid ; 
Shall all that love be fruitless made ? 

O just avenging judge, I pray, 
For pity take my sins away, 
Before the great accounting-day. 

I groan beneath the guilt, which thou 
Canst read upon my blushing brow ; 
But spare, O God, thy suppliant now. 

Thou, who didst Mary's sins unbind, 
And mercy for the robber find, 
Dost fill with hope my anxious mind. 

Though worthless all my prayers appear, 
Still let me not, my Saviour dear, 
The everlasting burnings bear. 

Give me at thy right hand a place, 
Amongst thy sheep, a child of grace, 
Far from the goats' accursed race. 

Yea, when thy justly kindled ire 
Shall bind the lost in chains of fire, 
Oh, call me to thy chosen choir. 

Lo, here I plead and suppliant bend, 
Nor cease my contrite heart to rend, 
That so thou spare me in the end. 

Oh, on that day, that day of weeping, 
When man shall wake from death's dark sleeping, 
To stand before his judge divine, 

Save, save this trembling soul of mine : 
Yea, grant to all, O Saviour blest, 
Who die in thee, the saints' sweet rest. 

Note from Shipley:

Dies irae, dies ilia. Sequence in Mass for the Dead, from the Missal. By Thomas of Celano, Order of Friars Minor, Thirteenth Century.

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