I have always wondered about the liturgical calender and how it is that between All Saints and Advent we have the emphasis upon the Last Judgment and “Day of Wrath”. The Latin poem Dies Irae is probably best translated in our hymnal – LSB – in Bartholomaus Ringwaldts poem put to music – “The Day is Surely Drawing Near”. It makes for some interesting reading of the texts as we also prepare for thanksgiving. For those of us who take the liturgical calendar seriously and use the pericopes it makes for a good excercise in the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel. I like the translation below.
The mighty trumpet’s wondrous tone
shall rend each tomb’s sepulchral stone
and summon all before the Throne.
Now death and nature with surprise
behold the trembling sinners rise
to meet the Judge’s searching eyes.
Then shall with universal dread
the Book of Consciences be read
to judge the lives of all the dead.
For now before the Judge severe
all hidden things must plain appear;
no crime can pass unpunished here.
O what shall I, so guilty plead?
and who for me will intercede?
when even Saints shall comfort need?
O King of dreadful majesty!
grace and mercy You grant free;
as Fount of Kindness, save me!
Recall, dear Jesus, for my sake
you did our suffering nature take
then do not now my soul forsake!
In weariness You sought for me,
and suffering upon the tree!
let not in vain such labor be.
O Judge of justice, hear, I pray,
for pity take my sins away
before the dreadful reckoning day.
You gracious face, O Lord, I seek;
deep shame and grief are on my cheek;
in sighs and tears my sorrows speak.
You Who did Mary’s guilt unbind,
and mercy for the robber find,
have filled with hope my anxious mind.
How worthless are my prayers I know,
yet, Lord forbid that I should go
into the fires of endless woe.
Divorced from the accursed band,
o make me with Your sheep to stand,
as child of grace, at Your right Hand.
When the doomed can no more flee
from the fires of misery
with the chosen call me.
Before You, humbled, Lord, I lie,
my heart like ashes, crushed and dry,
assist me when I die.
Full of tears and full of dread
is that day that wakes the dead,
calling all, with solemn blast
to be judged for all their past.
Lord, have mercy, Jesus blest,
grant them all Your Light and Rest. Amen.