This is the traditional Sequence hymn for the Requiem Mass (Extraordinary Form).In the Ordinary Form, it has been retained and sung optionally in three sections for Office of Readings, Lauds and Vespers during the weekdays of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time.
Nigher still, and still more nigh
Draws the Day of Prophecy,
Doom’d to melt the earth and sky.
Oh, what trembling there shall be,
When the world its Judge shall see,
Coming in dread majesty!
Hark! the trump, with thrilling tone,
From sepulchral regions lone,
Summons all before the throne:
Time and Death it doth appal,
To see the buried ages all
Rise to answer at the call.
Now the books are open spread;
Now the writing must be read,
Which condemns the quick and dead:
Now, before the Judge severe
Hidden things must all appear;
Nought can pass unpunish’d here.
What shall guilty I then plead?
Who for me will intercede,
When the Saints shall comfort need?
King of dreadful Majesty!
Who dost freely justify!
Fount of Pity, save Thou me!
Recollect, O Love divine!
‘Twas for this lost sheep of thine
Thou thy glory didst resign:
Satest wearied seeking me;
Sufferedst upon the Tree:
Let not vain thy labour be.
Judge of Justice, hear my prayer!
Spare me, Lord, in mercy spare!
Ere the Reckoning-day appear.
Lo! thy gracious face I seek;
Shame and grief are on my cheek;
Sighs and tears my sorrow speak.
Thou didst Mary’s guilt forgive;
Didst the dying thief receive;
Hence doth hope within me live.
Worthless are my prayers, I know;
Yet, oh, cause me not to go
Into everlasting woe.
Sever’d from the guilty band.
Make me with thy sheep to stand,
Placing me on thy right hand.
When the cure’d in anguish flee
Into flames of misery;
With the Blest then call Thou me.
Suppliant in the dust I lie;
My heart a cinder, crush ‘d and dry;
Help me, Lord, when death is nigh!
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! Jesu blest!
Grant the Faithful light and rest. Amen.
Words: Attr. Thomas of Celano, 13th C.
Music: “Dies Irae” Gregorian Chant, Mode I, traditional.
The original Latin text of this hymn may be found here.