Additional Verses of the Libera me Responsory

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The Libera me responsory in the Vatican edition of the Graduale Romanum.
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Some additional verses of the Libera me responsory. Click here to see the full document.
℟. Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna in die illa tremenda, quando cæli movendi sunt et terra, dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.

℣. Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo, dum  discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.

℣. Dies illa, dies iræ, calamitatis et miseriæ, dies magna et amara valde.

℣. Quid ego miserrimus, quid dicam vel quid faciam? cum nil boni perferam ante tantum Judicem?

℣. Plangent se super se omnes tribus terræ: vix justus salvabitur, et ego? ubi apparebo?

℣. Nunc Christe, te deprecor, miserere peto: qui venisti redimere, perpetim veni salvare.

℣. Tremebunt Angeli, et Archangeli: impii autem ubi parebunt?

℣. Commíssa mea pavesco, et ante te erubesco: dum veneris judicare, noli me condemnare.

℣. Vox de cælis: O vos, mortui, qui jacetis in sepulcris, surgite! et occurite ad judicium Salvatoris.

℣. Creator omnium rerum Deus, qui me de limo terræ formasti, et mirabiliter proprio sanguine redemisti: corpusque meum licet modo putrescat, de sepulcro facias in die judicii resuscitari: exaudi, exaudi, exaudi me Deus, ut animam meam in sinu Abrahæ patriarchæ tui jubeas collocari.

℣. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

 

℟. Deliver me, O  Lord, from eternal death in that awful day: When the heavens and the earth shall be shaken: When Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

℣. I am seized with fear and trembling until the trial shall be at hand, and the wrath to come.

℣. That day, a day of wrath, of wasting, and of misery, a great day, and exceeding bitter.

℣. What will I, most wretched, what will I say, or what will I do? Since I have accomplished nothing good to proffer before such a mighty Judge.

℣. All the tribes of the earth shall mourn for themselves: the just shall scarce be saved, and I? Where will I appear?

℣. Now, Christ, I beseech Thee, I beg Thee, have mercy: Thou who camest to redeem, come to save forever.

℣. The Angels and Archangels shall tremble: but the wicked, where shall they appear?

℣. I dread my misdeeds, and I blush before Thee: when Thou shalt come to judge, do not condemn me.

℣. A voice from the heavens: O ye dead, who lie in your tombs, arise! And hasten to the judgement of the Saviour.

℣. God, creator of all things, Who formedst me of the slime of the earth, and wondrously redeemedst me with Thy own blood: although my body should now rot, Thou shalt make it rise again from the tomb in the day of judgement: hear me, hear me, hear me, O God, that Thou mightst command my soul to be placed in Abraham’s bosom.

℣. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Although most of the great responsories of Matins have only a single verse, it was not uncommon in the Age of Faith to augment the more solemn instances of this repertoire with additional verses. The poignant Libera me responsory in particular enjoyed a remarkable wealth of verses already in the 10th century. It is the ninth responsory of the Office of the Dead when all three nocturns are sung (when only the third nocturn is sung, it is replaced by another responsory that also begins Libera me), and is also chanted after a Requiem Mass at the beginning of the Absolution at the bier. Additional verses were surely composed to provide additional solemnity for major funerals and for the special commemoration of the dead on 2 November, and also because this responsory was also frequently sung during funerary processions.

The verses TremensDies illa[1]Quid ego (or its variant Quid ergo), and Plangent appear in the earliest MSS; the Tridentine books have only preserved the former two. In the Dominican use on 2 November, the verses Quid ego and a variant of Nunc Christe[2]are sung in addition to the verses in the Roman books, while the Norbertine use has preserved the verses Quid ergo, Plangent, and Nunc Christe on 2 November and on the Office of the Dead sung upon the passing of a member of the community.

The prolix verse Creator omnium, with its beautiful melisma on jubeas, first appears later in the Middle Ages to be sung in procession after Requiem Masses, and it has been retained for this function in the Dominican rite.

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The Libera me responsory in the Cod. Sang. 391.

Around the 15th century, a set of three rhythmic verses began to be sung with the Libera me responsory. Each stanza has seven verses of ten syllables with a cæsura after the fourth, and all three stanzas are sung to the same melody. Whereas the previous verses speak in the name of one of the dead begging for mercy on the Last Day, these rhythmic verses take up the voice of a narrator describing the Last Judgements, quoting Our Lord Himself as he separates the dead as a shepherd separates the sheep and the goats. Our Lord’s words in praise of the saved and in condemnation of the damned are put to the same melody, with striking effect.

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The first stanza of the rhythmic verses of the Libera me responsory, as published by Dom Joseph Pothier in the Revue de Chant grégorien, 1895, no. 4. The other verses follow the same melody.
℣. Quando Deus filius Virginis
Judicare sæculum venerit,
Dicet justis ad dextram positis:
Accedite, dilecti filii,
Vobis dare regnum disposui:
O felix vox! Felix promissio!
Felix dator, et felix datio!

℣. Post hæc dicet ad lævam positis:
Nescio vos, cultores criminis:
Vos decepit gloria sæculi;
Descendite ad ima barathri,
Cum Zabulon et suis ministris.
O proh dolor! Quanta tristitia!
Quantus luctus! Quanta suspira!

℣. Jam festinat Rex ad judicium,
Dies instat horrenda nimium;
Et quis erit nobis refugium?
Nisi Mater Virgo, spes omnium,
Quæ pro nobis exoret Filium.
O Jesu Rex, exaudi poscimus
Preces nostras, et salvi erimus.

℣. When God the Son of the Virgin shall come to judge the world, he will say to the just on his right hand: Come, my beloved children, I have prepared a kingdom to give unto you. O happy word! Happy promise! Happy giver, and happy gift!

℣. Hereafter he will say to them who on his left: I know you not, workers of wickedness! The glory of the world hath deceived you! Go down to the depths of the abyss with the devil and his ministers. Alas! Oh, how much sadness! How much grief! How much sighing!

℣. Now the King hastens to judgement. That day exceeding terrible is nigh, and who shall be our refuge? None but the Virgin mother, the hope of all. May she pray for us to her Sun. O Jesus, our King, hearken, we beseech thee, to our prayers, and we shall be saved.

Notes

[1] The text of this verse manifestly inspired the sequence Dies iræ; even the first notes of the latter are based on the melody of the verse.

[2] Nunc, Christe, te petimus, miserere, quæsumus; qui venisti redímere perditos, noli damnare redemptos.

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