Tuesday, November 08, 2011

ELH 537 For Classical Guitar

A transcription of ELH 537 "Day of Wrath" for Classical Guitar of DIES IRAE, Latin Melody, 13th Cent., altered. Meter 888 888 888

The transcription is found at this link.

Here's a midi file:



This hymn is number 601 in the old Lutheran Hymnary (1913, 1935 Augsburg) of the Norwegian Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod; number 607 in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941 Concordia) used by the churches of the old Synodical Conference; number 209 in the Wisconsin Evengelical Lutheran Synod's Christian Worship (1993 Northwestern).
Dies Irae

From The Handbook for Lutheran Hymnal:

Thomas de Celano, friend and biographer of Francis of Assisi, is generally credited with the authorship of this great medievel sequence, the opening lines of which are taken verbatim from the Vulgate version of Zeph. 1:15. Julian, writing of the general acceptance of this hymn, declares:
The hold which this sequence has had upon the minds of men of various nations and creeds has been very great. Goethe uses it, as is well known, in his Faust with great effect. It also furnishes a grand climax to Canto VI in Sir Walter Scott’s Lag of the Last Minstrel. It has been translated into many languages, in some of which the renderings are very numerous, those in German numbering about ninety and those in English about one hundred and sixty. In Great Britain and America no hymn-book of any note has appeared during the past hundred years without the “Dies Irae” being directly or in directly represented therein. Daniel, writing from a German standpoint, says:
“Even those to whom the hymns of the Latin Church are almost entirely unknown, certainly know this one; and if any one can be found so alien from human nature that they have no appreciation of sacred poetry, yet, as a matter of certainty, even they would give their minds to this hymn, of which every word is weighty, yes, even a thunderclap.”
From another standpoint, Archbishop Trench says:
“Nor is it hard to account for its popularity. The meter so grandly devised, of which I remember no other example, fitted though it has here shown itself for bringing out some of the noblest powers of the Latin language—the solemn effect of the triple rime, which has been likened to blow following blow of the hammer on the anvil, the confidence of the poet in the universal interest of his theme, a confidence which has made him set out his matter with so majestic and unadorned a plainness as at once to be intelligible to all,—these merits, with many more, have given the Dies Irae a foremost place among the masterpieces of sacred song.”—Sac. Lat. Poetry, 1874, p. 302.
The translation, one of many excellent ones, is by William J. Irons, slightly altered. It was first issued in the privately printed Introits and Hymns for Advent, issued, without date, very likely 1848, for the use of Margaret Street Chapel, London. Julian has this to say about the origin of the translation:

It is well known that the Revolution in Paris in 1848 led to many scenes of terror and shame. Foremost was the death of Monsigneur D. A. Affre, the Archbishop of Paris, who was shot on June 25 on the barricades of the Place de la Bastille whilst endeavoring to persuade the insurgents to cease firing, and was buried on July 7. As soon as it was safe to do so, his funeral sermon was preached in Notre Dame, accompanied by a religious service of the most solemn and impressive kind. Throughout the service the archbishop’s heart was exposed in a glass case in the choir, and at the appointed place the Dies Irae was sung by an immense body of priests. The terror of the times, the painful sense of bereavement which rested upon the minds of the people through the death of their archbishop, the exposed heart in the choir, the imposing ritual of the service, and the grand rendering of the Dies Irae by the priests gave to the occasion an unusual degree of impressiveness.

[thus far the Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal]

1. Day of wrath, O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the Prophet's warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning.
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Thro' earth's sepulchers it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.
Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth
When from heav'n the Judge descendeth
On whose sentence all dependeth!

2. Death is struck and nature quaking;
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.
Lo, the book, exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded;
Thence shall judgment be awarded.
When the Judge His seat attaineth
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.

3. What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding
When the just are mercy needing?
King of majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us.
Righteous Judge, for sin's pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution
Ere that day of retribution!

4. Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,
On the cross of suffering bought me;
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?
Think, good Jesus, my salvation
Caused Thy wondrous incarnation;
Leave me not sin's damnation!
Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
All my shame with anguish owning:
Hear, O Christ, Thy servant's groaning!

5. Bows my heart in meek submission,
Strewn with ashes of contrition;
Help me in my last condition!
Worthless are my prayers and sighing;
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.
Thou the sinful woman savedst;
Thou the dying thief forgavest;
Thus to me tru hope vouchsafest!

6. With Thy favored sheep, oh, place me!
Nor among the goats abase me,
But to Thy right hand upraise me.
While the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me, with Thy saints surrounded.
To the rest Thou didst prepare me
On Thy cross; O Christ, upbear me!
Spare, O God, in mercy spare me.


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