Tuesday, November 02, 2021

The Dominican 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 dozens of variants are attested. Here is the text of the Dominican version as sung on All Souls’ Day, which has three additional verses; the last and longest of these is particularly beautiful. Note that the verses Tremens factus sum and Dies illa are in the opposite order from the Roman version, and the Dominicans do not sing the words Requiem aeternam ... luceat eis with any of the responsories in their Office of the Dead. The verses Quid ego miserrimus and Nunc Christe are sung only on November 2.

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.
V. ij  Tremens factus sum ego et tímeo, dum discussio vénerit atque ventúra ira. Dum.
V. iij  Quid ego misérrimus, quid dicam, vel quid faciam, cum nil boni pérferam ante tantum júdicem? Quando.
V. iv  Nunc, Christe, te pétimus, miserére, quæsumus; qui venisti redímere pérditos, noli damnáre redemptos. Dum.
V. v  Creátor omnium rerum Deus, qui me de limo terrae formasti, et mirabíliter proprio sánguine redemisti, corpusque meum, licet modo putrescat, de sepulchro facies in die judicii resuscitári: exaudi, exaudi me, ut ánimam meam in sinu Abrahae, Patriarchae tui, júbeas collocári.
Repetitur R. Líbera me.

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...
V. ij  Trembling do I become, and fearful, when the trial and wrath shall come. When Thou shalt come...
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? When the heavens...
V. iv  Now, o Christ, we ask Thee, have mercy, we beseech Thee; Thou who came to redeem the lost, condemn not the redeemed. When Thou shalt come....
V. v  Creator of all things, o God, Who formed me from the slime of the earth, and wondrously redeemed me with Thy own Blood, and, although it now rot, will cause my body to be raised up from the grave on the day of judgment: hear, o hear me, that Thou may command my soul to be placed in the bosom of Abraham, Thy Patriarch. Deliver me, o Lord...

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