The Sixteen – Miserere mei, Deus

This is one of those pieces that once you hear it, you can listen to it over and over and over again on repeat without ever losing interest. I was first exposed to this by way of a compilation album in 1997, called Agnus Dei. I had forgotten about it for years and then some time between last year and now, I found it again and completely fell in love with it again. London-based The Sixteen completely do this piece justice and are one of my preferred performers.

Originally composed by Gregori Allegri (1582 – 1652), this piece originally could only be performed in the Sistine Chapel (unless you wanted to face excommunication). Writing it down was also forbidden. Allegedly, Mozart copied it from memory in his youth.

If you have not been blessed to hear it live, you must if you ever have the opportunity to do so. The high C performed will send chills up your spine. St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati was host to this glorious piece as part of their Tenebrae service (performed by their AMAZING in-house choir) and it was, for lack of a better word, epic. They perform this piece every year so keep March 27 marked in your calendars for 2013.

Below is the performance by The Sixteen that includes the English translation from the original Latin in captions. I would highly recommend their album, Sounds Sublime, which includes Miserere. You can also just buy the Miserere album.

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Lyrics (click more):

(English is pretty much Psalm 51)

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 munda me.

Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco,
Et peccatum meum contra me est semper

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibilla.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando judex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus!

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulcra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.

Mors stupebit et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
Judicanti repsonsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus judicetur.

Judex ergo cum sededit,
Quidquid latet apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum misertunc dicturus?

Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix justus sit securus?

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibilla.

Tibi soli peccavi,
Et malum coram te feci;
Ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis,
Et vibcas cum judicaris.

Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum,
Et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.

Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti;
lncerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.

Asperge me hyssopo, et mundabor,
Lavabis me, et supernivem dealbabor

Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam,
Et exultabunt ossa humiliata.

Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis,
Et omnes iniquitates meas dele.

Cormundum crea in me, Deus,
Et spiritus rectum innova in visceribus meis.

Ne proiicias me a facie tua,
Et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me.

Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui,
Et spiritu principali confirma me.

Docebo iniquos vias tuas,
Et impii ad te convertentur

Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus,
Deus salutis meae,
Et exultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.

Domine, labia mea aperies,
Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.

Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique;
Holocaustis non delectabens.

Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus;
Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.

Benigne fac, Domme, in bona voluntate tua Sion,
Ut aedificenturmuri Jerusalem.

Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae.
Oblationes et holocausta;
Tunc impotent super altare tuum vitulos.

Rex tremendae majestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.

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