Líbera me (“Deliver me”) is a Roman Catholic responsory that is sung in the Office of the Dead and at the absolution of the dead, a service of prayers for the dead said beside the coffin immediately after the Requiem Mass and before burial. The text of Libera me asks God to have mercy upon the deceased person at the Last Judgment.
Libera me is begun by a cantor, who sings the versicles alone, and the responses are sung by the choir. The text is written in the first person singular, “Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death on that fearful day,” a dramatic substitution in which the choir speaks for the dead person.
In the traditional Office, “Libera me” is also said on All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) and whenever all three nocturns of Matins of the Dead are recited.
Libera me, Domine
Libera me, Domine,
Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo, dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.
Dum veneris iudicare saeculum per ignem.
Deliver me, O Lord,
I am made to tremble, and I fear, till the judgment be upon us, and the coming wrath,
When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Adrian Fortescue (1913). “Libera Me”.
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