Miserere

by Stefania Bufano

Good Music Speaks

AllegeriOne of the comments on an earlier post reminded me of a famous story about the Miserere composed by Italian composer Gregorio Allegeri (1582-1652).  It was composed about 1630, and is his most well known piece of music.  A Miserere is a musical setting of Psalm 51 using the Latin text.  The setting composed by Allegeri was adopted by the Catholic church in Rome for exclusive use during Tenebrae services of Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel.  Allegeri wrote his music for two choirs, one in four parts and the other in five parts.  The choirs were separated in different parts of the Sistine Chapel, and the gorgeous vocal lines echoed throughout the beautiful interior space.  The full Latin text is below.

Miserere mei, Deus

Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea: et a peccato meo…

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