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THOMAS A CELANO

Little is known of the life of Thomas of Celano, his birth and death. But it is enough to know that he is the author of the Dies Irae,” the greatest Christian hymn, with the possible exception of the “ Te Deum Laudamus.” A thirteenth century monk of the order of St. Francis of Assisi, he wrote a biography of that saint, and brought to the work the qualifications both of intimate friendship and close sympathy. There are a few other poetical works ascribed to him, but with little internal evidence to sustain the claim. There have been as many as one hundred and fifty English versions or translations of the “ Dies Irae” and more than one hundred in German.

Two considerations alone permit one more translation to be offered here; that arising from the desire for completeness, and that of nearer approach to literalness than many other translators have attempted.

THOMAS A CELANO

DIES IRAE

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
Teste David cum Sybilla.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando iudex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus!

Tuba, mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulcra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.

Mors stupebit, et natura,
Quum resurget creatura,
Iudicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus iudicetur.

THOMAS OF CELANO

DAY OF WRATH

Day of wrath, that day predicted!
Earth to ashes melts afflicted,
As by saint and seer depicted!

O how great shall be the quaking,
When the Judge, His advent making,
Strict account of all is taking!

Loud the trumpet's sound is swelling, 'Mid earth's graves its sunimons telling, All before the throne compelling.

Death and nature shall be quaking,
When to life, the creature, waking,
To its Judge response is making.

Then the book shall be unsealéd,
Wherein now is all concealéd,
Whence shall be earth's doom revealéd.

Iudex ergo quum sedebit,
Quidquid latet, apparebit,
Nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus, Quem patronum rogaturus, Cum vir iustus sit securus?

Rex tremendae maiestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis!

Recordare, Iesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuae viae;
Ne me perdas illa die!

Quaerens me sedisti lassus,
Redemisti crucem passus:
Tantus labor non sit cassus!

Iuste iudex ultionis,
Donum fac remissionis
Ante diem rationis!

Therefore when the Judge is reigning, Hidden things the light attaining, Naught unjudged shall be remaining.

What shall wretched I be crying,
On what Advocate relying,
When the just are near to dying?

King of majesty supremest,
Saving whom Thou worthy deemest,
Save me, Thou who mercy streamest!

Holy Jesus, then recalling
How I caused Thy way appalling,
Let me not that day be falling!

Sitting weary, me Thou soughtest, Cross enduring, me Thou boughtest, Not in vain such labor wroughtest!

O Thou Judge of retribution,
Grant to me Thine absolution,
Ere that day of restitution.

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