Something for Friday

Today is one of those days that has gotten away from me, and things won’t be changing much in that regard this afternoon. Although I should have some interesting things to say and hopefully a photo or three to share later (which are connected in some way with this piece, hint hint).

Anyway, here is some music for your Friday meditation. This is the gorgeous piece by Allegri entitled, Miserere, a musical setting of the famous Psalm 51 (“Have mercy on me, O God, in your kindness; in your compassion, blot out my offense…”) – a psalm that I have had to say as a penance after confession on a couple of occasions, a better penance than just cranking out a few Hail Marys.

This performance is special not only because of the spectacularly-talented group that performs it – the Tallis Scholars – but also because of the place where they performed: the Basilica of St. Mary Major, with the singers stationed strategically in different parts of the church so as to take advantage of acoustical effects. Some of the singers – including those that have the most beautiful melodies (e.g., starting around 1:40 of the video) are in the chapel of the Madonna Salus Populi Romani, a very special Marian image for Rome that I have featured twice here on the blog (search).

So, enjoy this bit of musical meditation. It combines classical plainchant with renaissance polyphony, to say nothing of the beautiful art filmed in the Basilica. After the video immediately below, the text of Psalm 51.

A Psalm of David.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to thy steadfast love;
according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
and blameless in thy judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence,
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors thy ways,
and sinners will return to thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
O Lord, open thou my lips,
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
For thou hast no delight in sacrifice;
were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on thy altar.

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