Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mozart's Requiem: Confutatis and Lacrimosa

Detail from Michelangelo's Last Judgment:
"pie Jesu Domine,dona eis requiem"
     While it's not strictly speaking a Lenten composition, Mozart's Requiem Mass, which he was still completing at the time of his death, lends itself to the penitential nature of the liturgical season.  This excerpt ("Confutatis" and "Lacrimosa"), part of the setting for Thomas of Celano's great hymn "Dies Irae", looks ahead to the Final Judgment.  Here, Mozart's music powerfully complements the words of the hymn: we can almost feel what it's like to be unworthy sinners approaching the Throne of God to throw ourselves upon his Mercy (which, indeed, we are).

Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis,
voca me cum benedictis.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis,
gere curam mei finis.

     When the wicked are confounded,
     and consigned to bitter flames,
     call me among the blessed.
     I pray humble and downcast,
     my heart worn down like ash,
     take up the care of my end.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus,
pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.

     That day,full of tears,
     when from the ashes shall arise,
     Man, the accused to be judged.
     Have mercy on him, therefore, O God,
     faithful Lord Jesus,
     grant them eternal rest. Am