|Sheet music in the middle ages certainly surpassed what we have now!|
The voices of the boys are piercingly sweet in this rendition of a song familiar to most Catholics who remember the Latin Mass. Written by St. Thomas Aquinas, it speaks of the sacred Eucharist. This version is of only the first half, but these boys sang so beautifully I had to choose it. (The second half is the same music.) Here is the original Latin with English translation:
The Dies Irae is set partly to to a tune of Berlioz which will be familiar to many. The text was written approximately 1260 A.D. by what is now believed to be an anonymous Franciscan monk. It is a song shrouded in the history of our Church, and is definitely middle-ages-frightening compared to our modern-era religious music. In that way, it reminds me of some of the old Appalachian songs such as "O Death", songs that speak frankly of a fear of offending God which we don't see much anymore. Dies Irae speaks of the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. At least as Christians, we know what to do to prepare for the end of times, and we know that the hope of all is in the forgiveness and mercy of Christ. Sobering this song may be, but I am drawn to it because it is just plain gorgeous!
The original Latin is shown in the video. Here is the English translation:
shall heaven and earth in ashes lay,
as David and the Sybil say.
when the approaching Judge shall find
and sift the deeds of all mankind!
shall rend each tomb’s sepulchral stone
and summon all before the Throne.
behold the trembling sinners rise
to meet the Judge’s searching eyes.
the Book of Consciences be read
to judge the lives of all the dead.
all hidden things must plain appear;
no crime can pass unpunished here.
and who for me will intercede?
when even Saints shall comfort need?
grace and mercy You grant free;
as Fount of Kindness, save me!
you did our suffering nature take
then do not now my soul forsake!
let not in vain such labor be.
for pity take my sins away
before the dreadful reckoning day.
deep shame and grief are on my cheek;
in sighs and tears my sorrows speak.
and mercy for the robber find,
have filled with hope my anxious mind.
yet, Lord forbid that I should go
into the fires of endless woe.
o make me with Your sheep to stand,
as child of grace, at Your right Hand.
from the fires of misery
with the chosen call me.
my heart like ashes, crushed and dry,
assist me when I die.
is that day that wakes the dead,
calling all, with solemn blast
to be judged for all their past.
grant them all Your Light and Rest. Amen.