A day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. Zephaniah 1:15
Words: Attributed to Thomas of Celano, 13th Century (Dies Irae). Translated from Latin to English by Arthur P. Stanley in Macmillan’s Magazine, 1868.
Music: Reynoldstone Timothy R. Matthews (1826–1910) (🔊 pdf nwc).
Day of wrath, O dreadful day!
When this world shall pass away,
And the heavens together roll,
Shriveling like a parchèd scroll,
Long foretold by saint and sage,
David’s harp and sibyl’s page.
Day of terror, day of doom,
When at last the Judge shall come!
Through the deep and silent gloom,
Shrouding every human tomb,
Shall the archangel’s trumpet tone
Summon all before the throne.
Then shall nature stand aghast,
Death himself be overcast;
Then, at her Creator’s call,
Near and distant, great and small,
Shall the whole creation rise
Waiting for the Great Assize.
Then the writing shall be read,
Which shall judge the quick and dead;
Then the Lord of all our race
Shall appoint to each his place;
Every wrong shall be set right,
Every secret brought to light.
When in that tremendous day,
Heaven and earth shall pass away,
What shall I, the sinner, say?
When the righteous shrinks for fear,
How shall my frail soul appear?
King of kings, enthroned on high,
In Thine awful majesty,
Thou who of Thy mercy free
Savest those who saved shall be:
In Thy boundless charity,
Fount of pity, save Thou me.
O remember, Savior dear,
What the cause that brought Thee here;
All Thy long and toilsome way
Was for me who went astray:
When that day at last is come,
Call, O call, the wanderer home
Thou in search of me didst sit
Weary with the noonday heat;
Thou to save my soul hast borne
Cross and grief, and hate and scorn;
O may all that toil and pain
Not be wholly spent in vain!
O just Judge, to whom belongs,
Vengeance for all earthly wrongs,
Grant forgiveness, Lord, at last,
Ere the dread account be past;
Lo! my sighs, my guilt, my shame!
Spare me for Thine own great name!
Thou, who bad’st the sinner cease
From her tears and go in peace,
Thou, who to the dying thief
Spakest pardon and relief,
Thou, O Lord, to me hast given,
E’en to me, the hope of Heaven.
Naught of Thee my prayers can claim,
Save in Thy free mercy’s name;
Worthless is each tear and cry;
Yet, good Lord, in grace comply,
Spare me; cause me not go
Into everlasting woe.
Make me with Thy sheep to stand,
Severed from the guilty band;
When the cursed condemned shall be,
With the blest then call thou me;
Contrite, in the dust, I pray,
Save me in that awful day.
Full of tears, and full of dread,
Is the day that wakes the dead,
Calling all, with solemn blast,
From the ashes of the past;
Lord of mercy, Jesus blest,
Grant us Thine eternal rest.