Friday, November 02, 2018

The Premonstratensian Libera me, Domine

One of the most beautiful and beloved pieces of the Gregorian chant repertoire is the last responsory of Matins of the Dead, Libera me, Domine, which is also sung during the Absolution at the catafalque. The Roman version, certainly the best known, is one of the rare examples of a responsory with more than one verse; another very prominent example is the very first responsory of the liturgical year, Aspiciens a longe on the First Sunday of Advent. Many medieval Uses expanded Libera me by adding more verses, and there are dozens of variants recorded. Here is the text of the Premonstratensian version as sung on All Souls’ Day, which has three additional verses. (I was unable to find a recording of it; the Roman one is given below.) The first two of these, Tremens factus sum and Dies illa, are in the opposite order from the Roman version; the additional verses are sung only on All Souls and for the funeral of a deceased member of the Order. The repetitions of the responsory are also arranged differently; they are here given in full. As in most medieval Uses, the words Requiem aeternam ... luceat eis are not sung with any of the responsories in their Office of the Dead.

R. Líbera me, Dómine, de morte aeterna * in die illa tremenda, * Quando caeli movendi sunt et terra, dum véneris judicáre sáeculum per ignem.
V. j. Dies illa, dies irae, calamitátis et miseriæ, dies magna et amára valde, quando caeli movendi sunt et terra.
V. ij. Tremens factus sum ego et tímeo, dum discussio vénerit atque ventúra ira in die illa tremenda.
V. iij. Quid ego misérrimus, quid dicam, vel quid faciam, cum nil boni pérferam ante tantum júdicem in die illa tremenda?
V. iv. Plangent super se omnes tribus terrae; vix justus salvabitur, et ego miser ubi parebo in die illa tremenda?
V. v. Nunc, Christe, te déprecor, miserére, pie; qui venisti redímere nos, perpetim veni salvare in die illa tremenda, quando caeli movendi sunt et terra, dum véneris judicáre sáeculum per ignem.

R. Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death on that awful day * when the heavens and the earth shall be shaken, when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
V. j. That day shall be a day of wrath, of calamity and misery, a great day, and exceeding bitter. When the heavens and the earth shall be shaken.
V. ij. Trembling do I become, and fearful, when the trial and wrath shall come on that awful day.
V. iij. What shall I say or do, most wretched man that I am, since I have no good to bring before so great a judge on that awful day?
V. iv. All the tribes of the earth shal weep for themselves, the just man shall scarcely be saved, and where shall, a wretched man, appear on that awful day?
V. v. Now, o Christ, I beseech Thee, have mercy, o Good one; Thou who came to redeem us, come ever to save us on that awful day when the heavens and the earth shall be shaken, when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

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