Dies Irae:

Hymn from Requiem in Latin and English

It seemed to me that I had entered a room in a mortuary. The walls were hung in black, but instead of white trimmings that usually set off that funeral upholstery, there was an enormous stave of music with the notes of Dies Irae, many times repeated. In the middle of the room was a canopy, from which hung curtains of red brocaded stuff and under the canopy there stood an open casket. At the sight of it, I stepped back.

"That is where I sleep," said Erik. "One has to get used to everything in life, even to eternity."

The sight of the coffin made such a sinister impression on me that I turned my head away. What I saw then was the keyboard of an organ that occupied the entire length of a wall. On a music stand there was a notebook splattered all over with musical notes in red ink. I asked for permission to look at it, and I read the first page: Don Juan Triumphant.

"Yes," he said, "I compose sometimes. It's been twenty years since I began this work. When it's done, I'll take it with me into my coffin and will never wake again."

~Testimonial of Christine Daaé upon her first visit to Erik's house on the lake according to The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The multi-sectional poem Dies Irae began as a medieval Mass for the Dead, chanted in memory of deceased individuals and for their souls in the afterlife. During Erik's lifetime, Giuseppi Verdi set Dies Irae (and other masses including Agnus Dei) to music for his operatic work Requiem. Verdi's Requiem was first performed on 25 February 1874 at the Church of San Marco in Milan and soon afterwards at La Scala.

The requiem's dual nature as an opera and as a sacred hymn was an interesting topic of discussion for its time. Additionally, Verdi was a self-proclaimed agnostic and so why he would create such a spiritual work was also most curious.

Below are the words to Dies Irae both in Latin and in English.

Hymn in Latin

Dies Irae

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
basso e coro

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulchra regionum
coget omnes ante tronum.
Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura
judicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus
mezzosoprano e coro

Liber scriptus proferetur
in quo totum continetur
unde mundus judicetur.
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet, apparebit,
nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser
soprano, mezzosoprano
e tenore

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus,
quem patronum rogaturus
cum vix justus sit securus?

Rex tremendae majestatis
solisti e coro

Rex tremendae majestatis
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.

soprano e mezzosoprano

Recordare, Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae
ne me perdas illa die.
Quarens 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 nonsunt dignae,
sed tu bonus fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.
Inter oves locum praesta
et ab haedis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextra.

basso e coro

Confutatis maledictus,
flammis acribus addictis,
voca me cum benedictis.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis,
gere curam mei finis.

solisti e coro

Lacrimosa, dies illa
qua resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus
huic ergo parce Deus.
Pie Jesu, Domine,
dona eis requiem.

English Translation

Day of Wrath

This day, this day of wrath
shall consume the world in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl.
What trembling there shall be
when the judge shall come
to weigh everything strictly.

The Trumpet
bass and chorus

The trumpet, scattering its awful sound
across the graves of all lands,
summons all before the throne.
Death and nature shall be stunned
when mankind arises
to render account before the judge.

The Written Book
Mezzosoprano and Chorus

The written book shall be brought
in which all is contained
whereby the world shall be judged.
When the judge takes his seat
all that is hidden shall appear,
nothing will remain unavenged.

What a Wretch
soprano, mezzosoprano,
and tenor

What shall I, a wretch, say then?
To which protector shall I appeal
when even the just man is barely safe?

King of Awful Majesty
solisti and chorus

King of awful majesty,
you freely save those worthy of salvation,
save me, fount of pity.

Remember Me
soprano and mezzosoprano

Remember me, gentle Jesus,
that I am the reason for your time on earth,
do not cast me out on that day.
Seeking me, you sank down wearily,
you saved me by enduring the cross,
such travail must not be in vain.
Righteous judge of vengeance,
award the gift of forgiveness
before the day of reckoning.

I Groan

I groan, like the sinner that I am,
guilt reddens my face.
O God, spare the supplicant.
You, who pardoned Mary
and heeded the thief,
have given me hope as well.
My prayers are unworthy,
but you, who are good, in pity
let me burn not in the eternal fire.
Give me a place among the sheep,
and separate me from the goats,
let me stand at your right hand.

Cast Away
bass and chorus

When the damned are cast away
and consigned to the searing flames,
call me to be with the blessed.
Bowed down in supplication I beg you,
my heart as though ground to ashes,
help me in my last hour.

Full of Tears
solisti and chorus

On this day, full of tears
when from the ashes arises
guilty man, to be judged,
Lord, have mercy on him.
Gentle Lord Jesus,
grant them rest.

Trivia | Faust | Face | Christine | Erik Who? | Dies Irae | Buquet | Carlotta

Books | Movies | Musicals | Children | Musings | Trivia | Phunny | Links

Main Page

. .