The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

That Day of Wrath, That Dreadful Day

For Advent, For Christmas

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

Source: Orby Shipley, Annus Sanctus: Hymns of the Church for the Ecclesiastical Year. Vol. 1. (London and New York: Burns and Oates, 1884), pp. 15-17.

That day of wrath, that dreadful day, 
When heaven and earth shall pass away, 
Both David and the Sibyl say. 

What terror then shall us befal, 
When lo, the judge's steps appal, 
About to sift the deeds of all 

The mighty trumpet's marvellous tone 
Shall pierce through each sepulchral stone, 
And summon all before the throne. 

Now death and nature in amaze 
Behold the Lord his creatures raise, 
To meet the judge's awful gaze. 

The books are opened, that the dead 
May have their doom from what is read, 
The record of our conscience dread. 

At length the judge his seat hath ta'en, 
And nothing hidden may remain, 
While each receives its mead of pain. 

What then shall I most wretched say ? 
Or whom to advocate me pray ? 
When scarce the just is saved that day ? 

O king, of dread inspiring face, 
Who savest freely, fount of grace, 
Amongst thy saved ones grant me place. 

Remember, Jesu, for my sake 
Thou didst thy manhood undertake, 
Thou wilt not, Lord, thine own forsake. 

In weariness thy sheep was sought ; 
Upon the cross his life was bought ; 
Alas, if all in vain were wrought. 

Thou righteous judge that dost repay, 
Oh, grant me pardon while I may, 
Before that dreadful reckoning day. 

In sense of guilt I wretched groan ; 
Mine eyes with conscious shame cast down; 
Oh, spare me suppliant at thy throne.

For thou who loosedst Mary's grief, 
And heardst upon thy cross the thief, 
E'en me hast granted hope's relief. 

My feeble prayers can make no claim, 
Yet, gracious Lord, for thy great name, 
Redeem me from the quenchless flame. 

Amongst the sheep, oh, bid me stand, 
And severed from the goats' lost band, 
Dispose me on thy glad right-hand. 

When thou the cursed shalt confound, 
In bitter chains for ever bound, 
Let me amongst the blest be found. 

In suppliant prayer I prostrate bend, 
My contrite heart like ashes rend, 
Regard, O Lord, my latter end. 

Oh, on that day, that tearful day, 
When man to judgment wakes from clay, 

Be thou the trembling sinner's stay, 
And spare him, God, we humbly pray. 

Holy Jesu, Lord most high, 
Grant them rest for whom we cry. 

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