It’s Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week for Christians. This is the week of Christ’s passion and death, preceding Easter. I want to mark today by sharing a piece of music that’s timely and remarkable:
This piece is Psalm 51, but first set to music by Allegri around 1630. It is one of the finest and most popular examples of renaissance polyphony. It is often heard in Churches of the apostolic Christian tradition…
Miserere mei, Deus is Latin for Have mercy on me, God. I think this transports the listener.
A 2008 NPR interview brings out some of the history of this piece:
Composer Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere” is a piece of choral music so powerful that a 17th-century pope decreed it could be played only during the week leading to Easter—and then only in the Sistine Chapel. Jesse Kornbluth of HeadButler.com talks about the “Miserere” with Jacki Lyden.
It’s also available on YouTube, by the same performers as the above clip: