Monday, November 02, 2009

Dies Irae on All Souls' Day

Priests are normally supposed to say just one Mass per day, but on All Souls' Day they can say three, the better to pray for the souls in Purgatory. My parish has five priests-- you do the math. :) It's pretty darn busy.

But this morning I was at Thomas Aquinas College for their 7 am TLM. Fr. Raftery, the Dominican priest there who likes the older liturgy, came out in black vestments-- first time I've seen such a thing in person. He then reeled off three Masses back to back. (It's nice in the old missal; there are different readings and prayers for each one.) After ending one with "Dona eis requiem," he and the altar boy would go down to the foot of the altar and immediately begin the next with "Introibo ad altare Dei..." Most of the congregation stayed through all three-- no one was still receiving Communion by the third Mass.

The liturgy for All Souls' Day includes Dies Irae, a Latin hymn from the 1200's . The words and a literal English translation are here. I think it's great; my only problem was that I've seen Amadeus, so of course I couldn't read Dies Irae without thinking of the scene where Mozart works on his Dies Irae on his own deathbed:

Confutatis maledictis
Flammis acribus adictis
Voca me cum benedictis
Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis:
Gere curam mei finis.

When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me, with Thy Saints surrounded.
Low I kneel, with heart submission!
See, like ashes my contrition!
Help me in my last condition!

Great scene. :)


Anonymous said...

Rachel, where did you find this poem.
When the wicket are counfounded
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded.
john parisi

Rachel Gray said...

Hi Deacon John! That's a translation of the Latin words that Mozart is composing in the video. It's a part of the Dies Irae that I heard the priest read at the traditional Latin Mass I went to on All Souls' Day. You can find the original Latin and two different English translations here, and the part I quoted begins at verse 16.