• Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

  • Benjamin Britten
    War Requiem, Op. 66

    Latin text from the Missa pro defunctis, with poetry by Wilfred Owen (1893–1918)


    I. Requiem Aeternam
     
    Eternal Rest
    Chorus
    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
    et lux perpetua luceat eis.


    Grant them eternal rest, O Lord
    and may perpetual light shine upon them.
    Boys’ Choir
    Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion;
    et tibi redetur votum in Jerusalem;
    exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet.


    Thou shalt have praise in Zion, oh God,
    and homage shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem.
    Hear my prayer, to Thee all flesh shall come.

     
    Chorus
    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
    et lux perpetua luceat eis.


    Grant them eternal rest, O Lord
    and may perpetual light shine upon them.
    Tenor Solo
    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

     
    Chorus
    Kyrie eleison,
    Christe eleison,
    Kyrie eleison.

    Lord, have mercy upon us,
    Christ have mercy upon us,
    Lord, have mercy upon us.
    II. Dies Irae
     
     
    Chorus
    Dies irae, dies illa,
    Solvet saeclum in favilla,
    Teste David cum Sibylla.

    Quantus tremor est futurus,
    Quando judex est venturus
    Cuncta stricte discussurus!

    Tuba mirum spargens sonum
    Per sepulchra regionum
    Coget omnes ante thronum.

    Mors stupebit et natura,
    Cum resurget creatura,
    Judicanti responsura.
     

    This day, this day of wrath
    Shall consume the world in ashes,
    As prophesied by David and the Sibyl.

    What trembling there shall be
    When the Judge shall come
    To weigh everything strictly!

    The trumpet, scattering its awful sound
    Across the graves of all lands,
    Summons all before the throne.

    Death and nature shall stand amazed
    When creation arises
    To answer to the Judge.
     
    Baritone
    Bugles sang, saddening the evening air,
    And bugles answered, sorrowful to hear.

    Voices of boys were by the river-side.
    Sleep mothered them; and left the twilight sad.
    The shadow of the morrow weighed on men.

    Voices of old despondency resigned,
    Bowed by the shadow of the morrow, slept.

     
    Soprano Solo and Chorus
    Liber scriptus proferetur,
    In quo totum continetur,
    Unde mundus judicetur.

    Judex ergo cum sedebit,
    Quidquid latet, apparebit:
    Nil inultum remanebit.

    Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
    Quem patronem rogaturus,
    Cum vix justus sit securus?

    Rex tremendae majestatis,
    Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
    Salva me, fons pietatis.
     

    A written book shall be brought forth,
    That contains everything,
    Whereby the world shall be judged.

    When the Judge takes his seat,
    All that is hidden shall appear:
    Nothing shall remain unavenged.

    What shall I, a wretch, say?
    To which protector shall I appeal,
    When even the righteous is barely safe?

    King of awful majesty,
    Who freely saves the redeemed,
    Save me, fount of pity.
    Tenor and Baritone Solos
    Out there, we’ve walked quite friendly up to Death:
    Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,—
    Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
    We’ve sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,—
    Our eyes wept, but our courage didn’t writhe.
    He’s spat at us with bullets and he’s coughed
    Shrapnel. We chorused when he sang aloft;
    We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.

    Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
    We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
    No soldier’s paid to kick against his powers.
    We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
    And greater wars; when each proud fighter brags
    He wars on Death—for Life; not men—for flags.

     
    Chorus
    Recordare, Jesu pie,
    Quod sum causa tuae viae:
    Ne me perdas illa die.

    Quaerens me, sedisti lassus:
    Redemisti crucem passus:
    Tantus labor non sit cassus.

    Ingemisco tamquam reus:
    Culpa rubet vultus meus:
    Supplicanti parce Deus.

    Qui Mariam absolvisti,
    Et latronem exaudisti,
    Mihi quoque spem dedisti.

    Inter oves locum praesta,
    Et ab haedis me sequestra,
    Statuens in parte dextra.

    Confutatis maledictis,
    Flammis acribus addictis,
    Voca me cum benedictis.

    Ora supplex et acclinis,
    Cor contritum quasi cinis:
    Gere curam mei finis.


    Remember, gentle Jesus,
    That I am the reason for Thy time on earth:
    Do not cast me out on that day.

    Seeking me, Thou didst sink down wearily:
    Thou didst redeem me by enduring the cross:
    Such travail must not be in vain.

    I groan, like the sinner that I am:
    And my face reddens with guilt:
    Spare the supplicant, O God.

    Thou, who pardoned Mary,
    And heard the prayer of the thief,
    Hast given me hope as well.

    Give me a place among the sheep,
    And separate me from the goats,
    Placing me on Thy right hand.

    When the damned are cast away,
    And consigned to the searing flames,
    Call me with the blessed.

    Bowed down in supplication I beg Thee,
    My heart as contrite as ashes:
    Take Thou my ending into Thy care.
    Baritone Solo
    Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
    Great gun towering toward Heaven, about to curse;

    Reach at that arrogance which needs thy harm,
    And beat it down before its sins grow worse;

    But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
    May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!

     
    Chorus and Soprano Solo
    Dies irae, dies illa,
    Solvet saeclum in favilla,
    Teste David cum Sibylla.

    Quantus tremor est futurus,
    Quando judex est venturus,
    Cuncta stricte discussurus!

    Lacrimosa dies illa,
    Qua resurget ex favilla,
    Judicandus homo reus,
    Huic ergo parce Deus.


    This day, this day of wrath
    Shall consume the world in ashes,
    As prophesied by David and the Sibyl.

    What trembling there shall be,
    When the Judge shall come,
    To weigh everything strictly.

    Oh this day full of weeping,
    When from the ashes arises,
    The guilty man, to be judged,
    Have mercy upon him, O Lord.
    Tenor Solo
    Move him into the sun—
    Gently its touch awoke him once,
    At home, whispering of fields unsown.
    Always it woke him, even in France,
    Until this morning and this snow.
    If anything might rouse him now
    The kind old sun will know.

    Think how it wakes the seeds—
    Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
    Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
    Full-nerved— still warm—too hard to stir?
    Was it for this the clay grew tall?
    —O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
    To break earth’s sleep at all?

     
    Chorus
    Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem. Amen.


    Merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest. Amen.
    III. Offertorium
     
     
    Boys’ Choir
    Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae, libera animas omnium fidelium
    defunctorum de poenis inferni, et de profundo lacu:
    libera eas de ore leonis, ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum.
     

    Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of the faithful departed
    from the pains of hell and the deep pit:
    Deliver them from the mouth of the lion, that hell may not engulf them and be plunged into darkness.
    Tenor and Baritone Solos
    So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
    And took the fire with him, and a knife.
    And as they sojourned both of them together,
    Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
    Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
    But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
    Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
    And builded parapets and trenches there,
    And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
    When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
    Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
    Neither do anything to him. Behold,
    A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
    But the old man would not so, but slew his son,—
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

     
    Boys’ Choir
    Hostias et preces tibi Domine laudis offerimus:
    tu suscipe pro animabus illis, quarum hodie memoriam facimus:
    fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam.
     

    In praise we offer to Thee, O Lord, sacrifices and prayers, do Thou receive them:
    on behalf of souls of those whom we remember this day:
    allow them, O Lord, to pass from death to life.
    IV. Sanctus
     
    Soprano Solo and Chorus
    Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Saboath.
    Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua, Hosanna in excelsis.
    Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
    Hosanna in excelsis.
    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.
    Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory, glory to God in the highest.
    Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord. Glory to God in the highest.
    Baritone Solo
    After the blast of lightning from the East,
    The flourish of loud clouds, the Chariot Throne;
    After the drums of Time have rolled and ceased,
    And by the bronze west long retreat is blown,

    Shall life renew these bodies? Of a truth
    All death will He annul, all tears assuage?—
    Fill the void veins of Life again with youth,
    And wash, with an immortal water, Age?

    When I do ask white Age he saith not so:
    “My head hangs weighed with snow.”
    And when I hearken to the Earth, she saith:
    “My fiery heart shrinks, aching. It is death.
    Mine ancient scars shall not be glorified,
    Nor my titanic tears, the sea, be dried.”
     
    V. Agnus Dei
     
     
    Tenor Solo
    One ever hangs where shelled roads part.
    In this war He too lost a limb,
    But His disciples hide apart;
    And now the Soldiers bear with Him.
     
     
    Chorus
    Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem.


    Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, grant them rest.
    Tenor Solo
    Near Golgotha strolls many a priest,
    And in their faces there is pride
    That they were flesh-marked by the Beast
    By whom the gentle Christ’s denied.

     
    Chorus
    Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem.


    Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, grant them rest.
    Tenor Solo
    The scribes on all the people shove
    and bawl allegiance to the state,
    But they who love the greater love
    Lay down their life; they do not hate.

     
    Chorus
    Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem.


    Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, grant them rest.
    Tenor Solo
    Dona nobis pacem.


    Grant us peace.
    VI. Libera Me
     
     
    Chorus and Soprano Solo
    Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna, in die illa tremenda:
    Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra: Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
    Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo, dum discussio venerit atque venture ira.
    Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra. Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae,
    dies magna et amara valde. Libera me, Domine …

    Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death in that awful day:
    When the heavens and earth shall be moved: when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
    I am seized with fear and trembling, until the trial shall be at hand and the wrath to come.
    When the heavens and the earth shall be moved. This day, this day of wrath, of calamity and misery,
    a great day and bitter indeed. Deliver me, O Lord …
    Tenor Solo
    It seemed that out of battle I escaped
    Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
    Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
    Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
    Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
    Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
    With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
    Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.

    And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan,
    “Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”

     
    Baritone Solo
    “None,” said the other, “save the undone years,
    The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
    Was my life also; I went hunting wild
    After the wildest beauty in the world.
    For by my glee might many men have laughed,
    And of my weeping something had been left,
    Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
    The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
    Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
    Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
    They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
    None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
    Miss we the march of this retreating world
    Into vain citadels that are not walled.
    Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
    I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
    Even from wells we sunk too deep for war,
    Even the sweetest wells that ever were.

    I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
    I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
    Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
    I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.”

     
    Tenor and Baritone Solos
    “Let us sleep now …”

     
    Boys’ Choir, Chorus and Soprano Solo
    In paradisum deducant te Angeli: in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres,
    et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
    Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat,
    et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem.
    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.
    Requiescant in pace. Amen.


    May the angels lead you into paradise: may the martyrs receive you at your coming,
    and lead you into the holy city of Jerusalem.
    May the chorus of angels receive you,
    and with Lazarus, once poor may you have eternal rest.

    Grant them eternal rest, O Lord: and may perpetual light shine upon them.
    May they rest in peace. Amen.