Miserere mei Deus: Psalm 51

Miserere mei Deus (“Have mercy on me, O God”) by Gregorio Allegri, using the words from Psalm 51, is one of the most beautiful compositions ever written. In 1638, Allegri composed the Miserere. It was sung during services traditionally on Good Friday of Holy Week, but only in the Sistine Chapel. The pope forbade anyone from transcribing it, and its exact composition was kept secret for over 100 years.

But when fourteen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart heard the music at the Vatican and transcribed it from memory, it was published in 1771. In 1831, Felix Mendelssohn made a transcription in a higher key, which became the accepted version. Mendelssohn’s “high note” is now the defining moment of the most famous and moving passage of the piece.

Share

More Book Minute Features

July 06, 2020

Mary Jones's Bible

For Welsh children of years past, the story of Mary Jones and her Bible is legendary. In 1563, Parliament passed a law allowing for the translation of...
June 29, 2020

Mendelssohn’s Fifth— Symphony for the Reformation

The Augsburg Confession of 1530 defined the theological beliefs of Martin Luther, becoming one of the most important documents of the Protestant Refor...
June 22, 2020

Quoting the Bible -

“Cleanliness is next to godliness! A verse often quoted from the Bible—but one that isn’t IN the Bible! It's sound advice, but we often use wise...