Sunday, January 06, 2019

Vespers: Miserere mei, Deus

The Tenebrae Choir sings Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere mei, Deus."

The Tenebrae Choir in London is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles renowned for its passion and precision.

This performance was filmed at The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, sometimes abbreviated to Great St Bart's, in the Church of England's Diocese of London . The building was founded as an Augustinian priory in 1123.

"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.

It is written for two choirs, the one of five and the other of four voices, and has obtained considerable celebrity. One of the choirs sings a simple fauxbordon based on the original plainsong chant for the Tonus peregrinus; the other choir sings a similar fauxbordon with pre-existing elaborations and the use of cadenzas.

Matins is the monastic nighttime liturgy, ending at dawn, of the canonical hours. Tenebrae (Latin for "darkness") is a religious service  held during the three days preceding Easter, and characterized by gradual extinguishing of candles, and by a "strepitus" or "loud noise" taking place in total darkness near the end of the service.

Gregorio Allegri (1582 – 1652) was a Roman Catholic priest and Italian composer of the Roman School and a singer. He was one of the earliest composers for stringed instruments. Most of his published music, especially the instrumental music, is in the progressive early Baroque concertato style. However, his work for the Sistine Chapel is descended from the Palestrina style. He is credited with the earliest string quartet. By far the best-known and regarded piece of music by Allegri is the "Miserere mei, Deus."

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