Dies irae

Encyclopædia Orbis Latini


Latin: "Day of Wrath". See the text.

A Latin hymn on the Last Judgment, called so after the opening words. It is attributed to Thomas of Celano (d. c. 1256) and contains 18 rhymed stanzas (17 tercets, 1 quatrain), to which a later, anonymous writer added an unrhymed couplet, ending in "Amen." The impressive plainsong melody to which the hymn was sung was used by composers of religious works from the 16th century onward, either in its original form or as the basis of a polyphonic composition. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giuseppi Verdi were among the composers of religious works who wrote original music on the text of the hymn.

The original melody made a strong appeal during the Romantic period and was used, often in the form of a parody or to suggest the supernatural or the macabre, in many secular compositions by Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and other composers.
 
 

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