For some background to this song, here's what Wikipedia has to say:
Miserere (full title: Miserere mei, Deus, Latin for "Have mercy on me, O God") is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the exclusive Tenebrae service on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday of Holy Week.
Description and use
The Miserere is written for two choirs, one of five and one of four voices, and is an example of Renaissance polyphony. One of the choirs sings a simple version of the original Miserere chant; the other, spatially separated, sings an ornamented commentary on this.
The Tenebrae service where the Miserere would be sung normally began at dusk, hence the name (tenebrae is Latin for "shadows" or "darkness"). During the ritual, candles would be extinguished one by one, save for the last candle which remained alight and was then hidden. Gregorio Allegri envisioned the setting of the Miserere to be the final act within the first lesson of the Tenebrae service.Thanks to Wikipedia again for providing the lyrics. First, here they are in Latin:
Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.Now, for the english:
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 hysopo, 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 contribulatus: 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.
Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodnessAccording to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offences.Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin.For I acknowledge my faults: and my sin is ever before me.Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.Behold, I was shapen in wickedness: and in sin hath my mother conceived me.But lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness: that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.Turn Thy face from my sins: and put out all my misdeeds.Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.O give me the comfort of Thy help again: and stablish me with Thy free Spirit.Then shall I teach Thy ways unto the wicked: and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou that art the God of my health: and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness.Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord: and my mouth shall shew [show] Thy praise.For Thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it Thee: but Thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise.O be favourable and gracious unto Sion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with the burnt-offerings and oblations: then shall they offer young bullocks upon Thine altar.(Who says Wikipedia is full of garbage?)
Holy Week is still a ways off, but seeing as we are in the middle of Lent, this is good music for the soul. Amidst the pains and lamentations of this penitential season, in a prayerful way, let the beauty of this rendition of Miserere lift your heart and mind to the Lord.