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Dirges (Music)

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    • Dirges (Music)
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    • found: Grove music online, viewed May 30, 2014:(A burial song or (less commonly) one sung in commemoration of the dead; a song of mourning or an instrumental piece expressive of similar sentiments. The word is a contraction of 'dirige', the first word of the first antiphon in the first nocturn at Matins in the Roman Office for the Dead ('Dirige, Domine Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam'). When, as often happened, the invitatorium ('Venite, exsultemus Domino') was omitted, the office would begin directly with the antiphon, and so in late medieval English the word 'dirge' came to be used in reference to the service as a whole. However, as in the similar case of 'placebo' (the initial word at Vespers in the same Office for the Dead), it soon took on a more general meaning and could be used for any song in the vernacular sung at a burial. In this sense a dirge has much the same connotation as a Threnody or a lament, though each term carries its own shade of meaning. The dirge has perhaps the most doleful character of them all; it is more specifically associated with the time of burial and often has a march-like tread, reminiscent of a funeral procession. As a poetic form the dirge is peculiarly English, and most settings of dirges are therefore by British composers. )
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    • 2014-12-10: new
    • 2015-02-13: revised
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