Miserere Mei Deus By Alegri
Miserere is a setting of Psalm 51 by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for the exclusive use of the Sistine Chapel.
The idea of using a solemn setting of the “Miserere mei Deus” psalm likely started during the reign of Pope Leo X (1513-1521). Contemporaneous accounts relate the use of the Miserere in this way in the year 1514. However, the earliest surviving setting is dated 1518 and was composed by Costanzo Festa (c. 1490- 1545).
Festa’s Miserere was sung in the “falsobordone” style, an ancient and relatively simple means of harmonizing on the traditional Gregorian chant.
The original translation of the psalm used for the piece was in Latin:
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.
Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci: ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum judicaris.
Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum: et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.
Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti: incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.
Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam: et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.
Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et omnes iniquitates meas dele.
Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: et spiritum 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 exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.
Domine, labia mea aperies: et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.
Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique: holocaustis non delectaberis.
Sacrificium Deo spiritus contributes cor contritum, et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.
Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion: ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem.
Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae, oblationes, et holocausta: tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.
‘Miserere mei, Deus’ English Translation
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.
According to unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies removes my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities, and cleanse me from my sin.
I knowingly confess my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee only have I sinned, and done evil before Thee: that they may be justified in Thy sayings, and might they overcome when I am judged.
But behold, I was formed in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, Thou desirest truth in my innermost being: and shalt make me understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Open my ears and make me hear of joy and gladness: and my bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.
Turn away Thy face from my sins: and remember not all my misdeeds.
Create in me a clean heart, O God: and make a righteous spirit anew within my body.
Do not cast me away from Thy presence: and take not Thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
I will teach those that are unjust Thy ways: and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.
Deliver me from blood, O God, the God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips: and my mouth shall spring forth Thy praise.
For Thou desirest no sacrifice, where others would: with burnt offerings Thou wilt not be delighted.
Sacrifices of God are broken spirits: dejected and contrite hearts, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
Deal favorably, O Lord, in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt Thou is pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with small and large burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon your altar.