Dies Irae

Day of Wrath
Composed by Z. Randall Stroope
Voicing: TBB
Instrumentation: piano
Catalog number: AMP 0616
Price: $2.20


"Dies lrae" is a Latin poem on the subject of the Last Judgment. Attributed to a Franciscan monk named Tomaso de Celante (1190, c. 1255), the complete poem contains 18 rhymed stanzas. (An unknown author later added the "Pie Jesu" couplet and the "Amen.") Little did this Franciscan know that his colorful poem would provide a springboard for some of the most dramatic musical works ever written. The portion of the complete poem is given below.

Dies irae, dies ilia Quando iudex est venturus
[dee-ehs ee-reh, dee-ehs ee-lahJ [kwahn-daw yoo-dex ehst vehn-too-roos]
Day of wrath, day that will when the judge comes

Solvet saeclum in favilla, Cuncta stricte discussurus!
[sohl-veht seh-kloom een fah-vee-lahJ [koongk-tah stree-kteh dee-skoo-soo-roos]
Dissolve the world into burning coals, To strictly sentence all.

Teste David cum sibylla. Pie ]esu Domine,
[teh-steh dah-veed koom see-bee-lahJ [pee-eh yeh-soo daw-mee-neh]
As David prophesied with the Sibyl.* Merciful Lord]esus,

Quantus tremor est futurus, dona eis requiem.
[kwahn-toos treh-mawr ehst foo-too-roosJ [daw-nah eh-ees reh-kwee-ehm]
How great trembling there will be, Grant them rest.

* "Sibyl" or "Sybilla" was a title given to the priestess of the Oracle. She sat on the Sybilline Rock, breathing vapors and eating laurel leaves, and making predictions.

Diction note: Flip all of the "r"s [r];
the vowel "0" is a pronunciational cross between "oh" [o] and "aw" [a];
and take care to keep the "e" [E] vowel consistent throughout the text. (Avoid mixing occasional [e] and [E] vowels.)

This setting of Dies lrae isolates a portion of the "Dies lrae" text, and juxtaposes driving, accentuated rhythms with towers of full sonorities. The piano writing provides an agitating "undercurrent" in the opening and closing sections. The composer has placed the voices in what he aptly calls the "resonance pockets" of the treble voice, creating powerful "sonic fireworks" appropriate to the drama of this text.


Z. Randall Stroope
is an American composer and conductor www.zrstroope.com. His compositions are frequently heard on internet media, television broadcasts, and NPR radio, as well as on programs of esteemed ensembles throughout the world. Randall has composed over 150 works, having studied with Cecil Effinger and Normand Lockwood ‐ both students of the famous French teacher, Nadia Boulanger. He is the Artistic Director of two summer music festivals in Europe, has conducted at Carnegie Hall (New York) every year since 2001, and is a university professor. (See www.zrstroope.com for a complete biography and list of works.)

recording performed by The Singing Statesman Chorus,
from The University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Gary Schwartzhoff, conductor
This recording is from their CD “Testament.”

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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