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Miserere mei, Have Mercy on Me - Psalm 51

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Published on Sep 24, 2011

In 2009 I was blessed with the opportunity to stand in the Sistine Chapel with my iPod and ear buds, listening to this beautiful music and seeing this beautiful art with my own eyes. The "Misere Mei Deus" by Gregorio Allegri has a fascinating history and the full story of why the song is ideal for the Sistine Chapel can be found well documented on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miserere...). I was fumbling with my iPod and ear buds, trying to stay out of the way of other people, staring at the ceiling with my head cranked back (Adams apple protruding) and half losing my balance. When the music took several seconds to come on, I was taken away by the enormity and vast detail of Michelangelo's work. Suddenly, I heard music, and for a microsecond thought the sound was either from angels and I was hallucinating or a special choir had been lined up to sing. Then I realized the song had finally kicked in on my iPod. Regardless, it was a spiritually uplifting experience that I will never forget. The music and art brought me to tears. The words of this song are Psalm 51 -- some of the most inspiring words of the Bible. It's a prayer asking for forgiveness and reunification with the one true God, our creator, redeemer, savior and king. And of course, through Jesus, His answer is "Yes, I forgive you!"
Due to the YouTube limit of 10 minutes, I had to cut the song short. Sorry.
Here's a distilled version of the Wikipedia content:
Miserere, full name "Miserere mei, Deus" (Latin: "Have mercy on me, O God") by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri, is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the exclusive Tenebraeservice on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week. It became forbidden to transcribe the music and it was allowed to be performed only at those particular services, adding to the mystery surrounding it. Writing it down or performing it elsewhere was punishable by excommunication.
According to the popular story (backed up by family letters), the fourteen-year-old Mozart was visiting Rome, when he first heard the piece during the Wednesday service. Later that day, he wrote it down entirely from memory, returning to the Chapel that Friday to make minor corrections. Some time during his travels, he met the British historian Dr Charles Burney, who obtained the piece from him and took it to London, where it was published in 1771. Once the piece was published, the ban was lifted; Mozart was summoned to Rome by the Pope, only instead of excommunicating the boy, the Pope showered praises on him for his feat of musical genius.
The Miserere is written for two choirs, one of five and one of four voices, and is an example of Renaissance polyphony surviving to the present day. One of the choirs sings a simple version of the original Miserere chant; the other, spatially separated, sings an ornamented "commentary" on this. The piece is an example of the stile antico or prima pratica; however, its constant use of the dominant seventh chord and its emphasis on polychoral techniques certainly put it out of the range of prima pratica[citation needed]; a more accurate comparison would be to the works of Giovanni Gabrieli[citation needed]. See also http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1kpcQm/...

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