Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) is a famous thirteenth century Latin hymn thought to be written by Thomas of Celano. It is a medieval Latin poem characterized by its accentual stress and its rhymed lines. The metre is trochaic. The poem describes the day of judgment, the last trumpet summoning souls before the throne of God, where the saved will be delivered and the unsaved cast into eternal flames.
The hymn is best known from its use as a sequence in the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass. It was removed from the ordinary form of the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy in the liturgical reform of 1969-1970, but was retained as a hymn of the Divine Office [disambiguation needed]. It can also still be heard when the extraordinary form of the Mass is used. An English version of it is found in various missals used in the Anglican Communion.
Use in the Catholic liturgy
Those familiar with musical settings of the Requiem Mass—such as those by Mozart or Verdi—will be aware of the important place Dies Iræ held in the liturgy. Nevertheless the "Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy" - the Vatican body charged with drafting and implementing reforms to the Catholic Liturgy ordered by the Second Vatican Council - felt the funeral rite was in need of reform and eliminated the sequence from the ordinary rite. The architect of these reforms, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, explains the mind of the members of the Consilium:
- They got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as the Libera me, Domine, the Dies Iræ, and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. These they replaced with texts urging Christian hope and arguably giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection.
It remained as the sequence for the Requiem Mass in the Roman Missal of 1962 (the last edition before the Second Vatican Council) and so is still heard in churches where the Tridentine Latin liturgy is celebrated.
The "Dies Irae" is still suggested in the Liturgy of the Hours during last week before Advent as the opening hymn for the Office of Readings, Lauds and Vespers (divided into three parts).
The Latin text below is taken from the Requiem Mass in the 1962 Roman Missal. The first English version below, translated by William Josiah Irons in 1849, replicates the rhyme and metre of the original. The second English version is a more literal translation.
Because the last two stanzas differ markedly in structure from the preceding stanzas, some scholars consider them to be an addition made in order to suit the great poem for liturgical use. The penultimate stanza discards the consistent scheme of rhyming triplets in favor of a pair of rhyming couplets. The last stanza abandons rhyme for assonance, and, moreover, its lines are catalectic.
In 1970, the Dies Iræ was removed from the Missal and since 1971 has been proposed ad libitum as a hymn for the Liturgy of the Hours at the Office of Readings, Lauds and Vespers. For this purpose stanza 19 was deleted and the poem divided into three sections: 1-6 (for the Office of Readings), 7-12 (for Lauds) and 13-18 (for Vespers). In addition Qui Mariam absolvisti in stanza 13 was replaced by Peccatricem qui solvisti so that that line would now mean, "You who freed/absolved the sinful woman". In addition a doxology is given after stanzas 6, 12 and 18:
O tu, Deus majestatis,
O thou, God of majesty,
Inspiration and other translations
- Dies iræ, dies illa, dies tribulationis et angustiæ, dies calamitatis et miseriæ, dies tenebrarum et caliginis, dies nebulæ et turbinis, dies tubæ et clangoris super civitates munitas et super angulos excelsos.
- That day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and misery, a day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and whirlwinds, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high bulwarks. (Douai Bible)
Other images come from Revelation 20:11–15 (the book from which the world will be judged),(sheep and goats, right hand, contrast between the blessed and the accursed doomed to flames), 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (trumpet), 2 Peter 3:7 (heaven and earth burnt by fire), Luke 21:26–27 ("men fainting with fear ... they will see the Son of Man coming"), etc.
A number of English translations of the poem have been written and proposed for liturgical use. A Franciscan version can be read here. A very loose Protestant version was made by John Newton; it opens:
- Day of judgment! Day of wonders!
- Hark! the trumpet's awful sound,
- Louder than a thousand thunders,
- Shakes the vast creation round!
- How the summons wilt the sinner's heart confound!
Jan Kasprowicz, a Polish poet, wrote a hymn entitled Dies irae which describes the Judgement day. The first six lines (two stanzas) follow the original hymn's metre and rhyme structure, and the first stanza translates to "The trumpet will cast a wondrous sound".
The American writer Ambrose Bierce published a satiric version of the poem in his 1903 book Shapes of Clay, preserving the original metre but using humorous and sardonic language; for example, the second verse is rendered:
- Ah! what terror shall be shaping
- When the Judge the truth's undraping -
- Cats from every bag escaping!
The oldest text of the sequence is found, with slight verbal variations, in a 13th century manuscript in the Biblioteca Nazionale at Naples. It is a Franciscan calendar missal that must date between 1253–1255 for it does not contain the name of Clare of Assisi, who was canonized in 1255, and whose name would have been inserted if the manuscript were of later date.
The hymn music, with the words of the first stanza, is provided here:
The words have often been set to music as part of the Requiem service, originally as a sombre plainchant. It also formed part of the traditional Catholic liturgy of All Souls' Day. Music for the Requiem Mass has been composed by many composers, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as well as Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi, and Igor Stravinsky.
The traditional Gregorian melody has also been used as a musical quotation in a number of other classical compositions, among them:
- Thomas Adès – Living Toys
- Charles-Valentin Alkan – Symphony for Solo Piano, Op. 39, Souvenirs: Trois morceaux dans le genre pathétique, Op. 15 – (No. 3 – Morte)
- David Baker – Fantasy on Themes from Masque of the Red Death Ballet
- Ernest Bloch – Suite Symphonique 
- Hector Berlioz – Symphonie fantastique
- Johannes Brahms – Klavierstück, Op. 118, No. 6
- Benjamin Britten – War Requiem
- Antoine Brumel – Dies Irae
- Elliott Carter – In Sleep, In Thunder, #4
- Marc-Antoine Charpentier – Grand Office des Morts
- George Crumb – Black Angels, Makrokosmos Volume II, Star Child
- Luigi Dallapiccola – Canti di prigionia
- Michael Daugherty – Metropolis Symphony 5th mvmt, “Red Cape Tango”. Dead Elvis
- Raymond Deane – Seachanges
- Ernő Dohnányi – Rhapsody in E-flat minor, Op. 11, No. 4
- Antonín Dvořák – Symphony No. 7 in D minor, mvmt 1
- Martin Ellerby – Paris Sketches, mvmt 3
- Antonio Estévez – Cantata Criolla (1954)
- Jean Françaix – Cinq poemes de Charles d'Orléans
- Diamanda Galás – Masque Of The Red Death: Part I – Divine Punishment & Saint Of The Pit: Track 5. Heautontimorounenos (Restless Souls)
- Robert Gerhard – Piano Concerto
- Alexander Glazunov – Orchestral suite From the Middle Ages, Op. 79
- Leopold Godowsky – Piano Sonata in E minor, mvmt 5
- Berthold Goldschmidt – Beatrice Cenci opera
- Charles Gounod – Faust opera, Act IV; Mors et Vita
- Sofia Gubaidulina – Am Rande des Abgrunds (On the edge of abyss), for 7 celli & 2 aquaphones
- Joseph Haydn – Symphony No. 103, "The Drumroll"
- Heinz Holliger – Violin Concerto, 2nd movement
- Vagn Holmboe – Symphony No. 10, 1st & 4th mvmts; Symphony No. 11, 1st mvmt
- Arthur Honegger – La Danse des Morts
- Karl Jenkins – Requiem
- Miloslav Kabeláč – Symphony No. 8 Antiphonies
- Aram Khachaturian – Symphony No. 2 The Bell Symphony, Spartacus
- György Ligeti – Le Grand Macabre
- Franz Liszt – Dante Symphony, Totentanz
- Charles Martin Loeffler – One Who Fell in Battle, Rhapsodies for oboe, viola, and piano, 1st movement, and several songs
- Jean-Baptiste Lully – Dies Irae
- Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2, mvmts 1, 3, and 5
- Bohuslav Martinů – Cello Concerto No. 2, final movement.
- Nikolai Medtner – Piano Quintet in C major, Op. posth.
- Modest Mussorgsky – Night on Bald Mountain, Songs and Dances of Death
- Nikolai Myaskovsky – Piano Sonata No. 2, Symphony No. 6
- Carl Orff – Carmina Burana
- Krzysztof Penderecki – Dies Irae
- Ildebrando Pizzetti – Requiem, Assassinio nella cattedrale
- Sergei Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 1, Op. 13, Symphony No. 2, Op. 27, Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28, Isle of the Dead, Op. 29, Prelude in E minor, Op. 32, No. 4, The Bells choral symphony, Op. 35, Études-Tableaux, Op. 39, No. 2, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, Symphony No. 3, Op. 44, Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
- Ottorino Respighi – Brazilian Impressions
- Marcel Rubin – Symphony No. 4, 2nd mvmt (Dies Irae)
- Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre, Requiem, Symphony No. 3 ("Organ Symphony")
- Aulis Sallinen – Dies Irae, Op. 47
- Juelz Santana – The Second Coming
- Ernest Schelling – Impressions from an Artist's Life
- Peter Schickele (P. D. Q. Bach) – Unbegun Symphony
- William Schmidt – Tuba mirum
- Alfred Schnittke – Symphony No. 1, mvmt 4
- Peter Sculthorpe – Memento Mori (1993)
- Dmitri Shostakovich – Music for Hamlet, Symphony No. 14
- Jean Sibelius – Lemminkäinen Suite
- Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji – Variazioni e fuga triplice sopra “Dies iræ” per pianoforte (1923–26), Sequentia cyclica super “Dies iræ” ex Missa pro defunctis in clavicembali usum (1948–49)
- Ronald Stevenson – Passacaglia on DSCH (1962–63)
- Richard Strauss – Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome
- Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring (sacrifice intro); Three pieces for String Quartet (III, "Canticle"); Histoire du soldat; Wind Octet, (Tema Con Variazioni)
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Modern Greek Song, Op. 16, No. 6; Marche funèbre, Op. 21, No. 4 from "Six Morceaux" for piano; Grand Sonata, Op. 37, for piano; Manfred Symphony; Orchestral Suite No. 3, Op. 55
- Frank Ticheli – Vesuvius
- Ralph Vaughan Williams – Five Tudor Portraits
- Adrian Williams – Dies Irae
- James Yannatos – Trinity Mass
- Eugène Ysaÿe – Sonata in A minor, Op. 27, No. 2 "Obsession"
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe used the first, the sixth and the seventh stanza of the hymn in the scene "Cathedral" in the first part of his drama Faust (1808).
- Italian poet Giuseppe Giusti composed in 1835 the satirical poem Il "Dies iræ" on the occasion of the death of Francis II, Emperor of Austria.
- Oscar Wilde composed a Sonnet on Hearing the Dies Irae Sung in the Sistine Chapel, contrasting the "terrors of red flame and thundering" depicted in the hymn with images of "life and love".
- In Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera, Erik (the Phantom) has the chant displayed on the wall of his funereal bedroom.
- Kurt Vonnegut wrote Stones, Time, & Elements - A Humanist Requiem in opposition to the classical Requiem and in particular to the "Dies Irae", which he found "vengeful and sadistic" (and mistakenly reputed a "piece of poetry by committee from the Council of Trent"). His Requiem was set to music by Edgar David Grana.
- Dies Irae was a title D. H. Lawrence considered for the novel that became Women in Love.
- In Anne Rice's The Vampire Armand , when Amadeo, Marius de Romanus, and other apprentices were captured by the Santino's satanic coven of vampires, they would mock Armand by singing this hymn.
- “Dies irae, dies illa when the absent shall be present and the present absent...in albums, in desk drawers, this picture and thousands like it have subtly matured, metamorphosed.” The Age of Iron by J.M. Coetzee
- In Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Adso has a dream or vision based on the Coena Cypriani while the monks around him chant the "Dies Irae."
References in popular culture
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The melody has also been referenced in popular culture, often being used in soundtracks to horror films.
Mozart's Requiem, especially the first two stanzas (Requiem, 2nd movement), is often heard in the scores of movies and the musical "beds" of commercials (e.g. X2: X-Men United).
The musical The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim contains several variations of the Dies Irae throughout its score, most notably in the recurrent "Ballad of Sweeney Todd", and as part of the underscoring in the climactic "Epiphany".
"Lacrimosa" by singer/songwriter Regina Spektor centers around the eighteenth stanza of the poem. The song is written from the point of view of Icarus, the son of Daedalus from Greek mythology, as he is falling to the earth.
A version of Dies Irae named Requiem Nitachou K.626 is used for Wolfgang Krauser in the Fatal Fury series by SNK,now SNK Playmore.
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the last stanza (Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem) is chanted by monks hitting themselves with boards.
Death Note features Dies Irae's first two stanzas as the lyrics of the theme of the Death Note with orchestral music in the background.
Two songs in The Nightmare Before Christmas (soundtrack), Making Christmas and Sally's Song are based on the Dies Irae melody. The melody also serves as a basis for the theme of the films "End of Days" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Parfum - The Story of a Murderer" and most notably, "The Shining".
The Heroes of Might and Magic series frequently uses variations of Dies Irae. The Necromancer theme in Heroes of Might and Magic III and the Title and Haven themes from Heroes of Might and Magic V for example.
In Trauma Center: Under the Knife, the theme "Judgement Day" is merely a variation upon Dies Irae.
In The Dark Spire, the lyrics to the Sixth and Seventh Floor's music are from Dies Irae.
In Onimusha 3 Demon Siege, theme of Guildenstern
In warhammer 40k Horus Heresy: galaxy in flames, it refers to the titan class destroyer
The melody is incorporated as a theme in some songs of the MMORPG EverQuest II.
Dies Irae appears in the soundtrack for Zombies Ate My Neighbors by LucasArts Games.
Wendy Carlos used the main subject in her composition "Country Lane" from the album entitled "A Clockwork Orange: Wendy Carlos's Complete Original Score"
|This page uses content from the English Wikisource. The original article was at Dies Irae. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion wiki, the text of Wikisource is available under the CC-BY-SA.|
|Latin Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- ↑ "Dies Iræ". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Dies_Ir%C3%A6.
- ↑ Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy : 1948–1975, (The Liturgical Press, 1990), Chap. 46.II.1, p. 773.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Liturgia Horarum IV, (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000), p. 489.
- ↑ This translation appears in the English Missal and also The Hymnal 1940 of the Episcopal Church in the USA.
- ↑ Simmons, Walter. Voices in the Wilderness: Six American Neo-romantic Composers. Scarecrow Press, 2004. ISBN 0810848848,
- ↑ Zadan, Craig (1989). Sondheim & Co. 2nd edition. Perennial Library. pp. 248. ISBN 0-06-091400-9.
- Dies Iræ, Franciscan Archive. Includes two Latin versions and a literal English translation.
- Podies Irae - Film Score Monthly podcast highlighting the use of Dies Irae in concert and film music.
- Appearance of Dies Irae in the street art of Kurt Wenner.cs:Dies Iraeet:Dies iraeka:დიეს ირე