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Type of publication: Straipsnis / Article
Author(s): Versekėnaitė, Audra
Title: Dies irae sekvencija: tekstas ir potekstės
Other Title: Sequence Dies Irae: text and subtexts
Is part of: Soter : religijos mokslo žurnalas, 2005, nr. 15(43), p. 295-306
Date: 2005
Keywords: Dies irae;Sequence;Medieval monody;Requiem;Sekvencija;Viduramžių monodija
Abstract: Dies Irae is esteemed the most immaculate piece of the sequence genre and at the same time one of the best remembered pieces of poetry/music of the 13th century ascribable to Thomas of Celano (died in about 1255). Dies Irae is composed of 19 stanzas (all of the regular trochee tetrameter) grouped in twos. One can feel that when creating the vocal space of the sequence, the composer conjectured the Christian numerology and tried to integrate possible numerological implications into the compositional structure of text and music. The logic of the sequence organisation is based on the divine number 3 (the symbol of the Holy Trinity), which stands out not only in the poetic (each stanza has three lines) structure of the text of Dies Irae but also in the musical structure of the sequence where three phrases (a, b and c) are repeated thrice as different text. A characteristic feature of Dies Irae sequence is repeated integration of certain intonations and their repetition in the following stanza. It creates an impression of melodic integrity enhanced by stereotypical cadence formulae. The verbal text of Dies Irae is of a personalised nature: ideas are presented here in the first person singular, on behalf of a man stricken with the horror of the Judgement Day and this text is transferred to the community of believers through vivid details of the plot. Dramaturgic components of the poetic text of Dies Irae and their evolution divide the monody into three notional episodes: 1. Stanzas 1-7 - the prophecy of the Judgement Day and its emotional verbalisation; 2. Stanzas 8-17 - the prayer of the lyric subject, the personalised petition of God to show mercy and a scintillating hope that the lyric subject (the ego) will be ranked among the saved “lambs”; 3. Stanzas 18–19 – a peculiar text “arc” summarising the “synthetic” reprise. The lyric subject of the poetic text of the sequence is presented as an omniscient character disclosing the images of “the severe day when the world turns into ashes” already at the very beginning of the sequence. He utters the most important details of the script of the Judgement Day – the fear of the humankind, the convocation to the throne of the Almighty and the disclosure of all sins and secrets. So the verbal text of Dies Irae sequence is oriented exclusively towards the images of life after death without paying any attention to the realities of the life on earth, its joys and pains, i.e. regrets (unless they are related to the absolution). The fatal meaning of the verbal text of Dies Irae sequence is full of the dramatic character of images of the Judgement Day and especially human fear emerging with the looming moment of confrontation with the Almighty. Thus, the plot of Dies Irae sequence pregnant with wrath contradicts the essential Christian idea – mercy. This is why originally a sequence (the 13th century), having functioned as an ordinary part of Requiem mass for four centuries (since the bull of Pope Pius V), Dies Irae was eliminated from the church liturgy in the 20th century by the resolution adopted at the II Session in Vatican. Still, the vivid and efficient initial melody of Dies Irae sequence and the fatal meaning of Dies Irae sequence have served as a guarantor vouchsafing a wide functioning of the medieval sequence in the creative work of composers of later epochs. The medieval monody of Dies Irae was established as one of the most popular and prominent compositional quotations of a macabre content already in the laic music of the romanticism. Namely then the melody Dies Irae acquired many polysemantic connotations. The initial melodic motive of Dies Irae sequence became one of the most outstanding signs in the semantic structure of many creations. In the romanticism art it gave a sense to the creative expression of the inferno sphere and accentuated the outbreak of the era of death philosophy giving rise to direct associations with the devil, witches, skeletons and the Judgment Day. Thus, the elimination of Dies Irae sequence from the ritual of the church mass in the 20th century revived the tradition of integrating the medieval monody into laic compositions that was formed as early as the 19th century and that markedly expands the semantic spheres of the creation affected by impellent images of the verbal text of Dies Irae (e.g. H. Berlioz “Fantastic Symphony” (1830); F. Liszt “Dance macabre” (1849), C. Saint-Saėns “Dance macabre“ (1874).
Šiame straipsnyje analizuojami Dies irae sekvencijos muzikiniai bei verbaliniai dėsningumai, užtikrinę konservatyvų ir savaip universalų grigališkosios monodijos funkcionavimo pobūdį nuo vėlyvųjų Viduramžių iki nūdienos. Kilusi kaip sekvencija, keturis šimtmečius funkcionavusi kaip ordinarinė Requiem dalis, pastaraisiais amžiais Dies irae sekvencija tampa viena populiariausių bei ženkliškiausių makabrinio turinio kompozicinių citatų pasaulietinėje muzikoje.
Appears in Collections:SOTER: religijos mokslo žurnalas / SOTER: Journal of Religious Science 2005, nr. 15(43)

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