‘Miserere mei, Deus’ by the Italian Renaissance composer Gregorio Allegri is one of the most beautiful and haunting pieces of music ever written. It’s a setting of Psalm 51, in latin, and calls for God’s mercy.
It was originally written in the 1630s exclusively for use in the Sistine Chapel during the Tenebrae services in Holy Week. The services would be candlelit starting about 3am and the candles would be extinguished, one by one, until one remained alight and hidden.
This version is one of the best versions, recorded by the UK choral group ‘The Sixteen’. It also has subtitles. So on this Maundy Thursday, please use this as a prayer and let the amazing music wash over you.
Allegri’s Miserere became popular when, according to a popular and probably true story, the fourteen-year-old Mozart heard the piece during the Wednesday service when he was visiting Rome. He wrote it down entirely from memory (after hearing it once!), returning to the Chapel that Friday to make minor corrections. It was then published throughout Europe.
[Image via wikimedia]