Miserere Mei Deus is on my Favourite Music list

The Sistine Chapel
I pet-sit for a living which means I stay in people's houses and look after their pets when they go away. Yesterday I headed down towards the south coast of England to care for a rescue whippet with separation anxiety for a lovely lady who was due to have some serious tumour surgery this morning. She left for the hospital but was back in a couple of hours - they refused to operate at this time due to complications. She was devastated and obviously very emotional. No sooner had I packed all my stuff back into my car when I got a call from my agency. They needed me urgently to cover for another pet-sitter who had hurt her back.

So I quickly sped up the motorways and during the couple of hours driving I listened to my favourite radio program Classic FM. As I was pondering the uncertainty of life and still feeling the emotional trauma that my poor client was suffering, a piece of music was played on the radio. Miserere Mei Deus by Gregorio Allegri. It had the most tranquillising effect on me and I felt I just had to share this beautiful music and the most amazing story behind it......

You can click on this clip below and listen as you read the rest if you like. This is sung by The Sixteen, an incredible choir.

I'm not religious at all and consequently find the words sung a little daunting, but the purity of the music simply elevates the soul. Miserere Mei, Deus means "Have Mercy on me, Oh God" and is based on Psalm 51. The rest of the lyrics are subtitled in English on the clip for you to follow.

The Italian composer, Gregorio Allegri, composed this during the 1630's to be sung in the Sistine Chapel for the Tenebrae Service which would start around 3am. As the service went on candles would be extinguished one by one until only one remained. It was forbidden to write down or perform this music outside of the Sistine Chapel, punishable by excommunication.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Courtesy - Wikimedia Commons

However, young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at age 14, listened to the music at a Wednesday service during a visit to Rome. Later that day, he wrote the music down from memory and attended the Friday service to perfect it. He gave the piece to British historian Dr Charles Burney who took it to London where, during 1771, it was published.

As was to be expected the Pope summoned Mozart to Rome, but instead of excommunicating him, he praised him highly for his musical brilliance. The ban was lifted and we can be grateful to Mozart for liberating this incredible music for us to enjoy.

If you found this interesting you may like to read my post "Can sound heal?" I feel that this glorious music certainly falls into the category of healing sound.

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