Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Sunday of Lent

A couple of years back, I posted a video of the Tallis Scholars singing Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere mei, Deus", a polyphonic piece written for nine voices plus a tenth that chants certain verses. Here is the same work performed by a London vocal group, The Twelve; the chant verses are taken by the men of the main choir. It's very appropriate for today, as the psalm for today is, "Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I have sinned."

Allegri, like Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina before him (who founded the prima practica style of polyphony), arranged his pieces so that the choir could be split into separate positions, taking advantage of the acoustics of medieval stone-built churches. This is why the quartet is separated onto a balcony. The venue, according to one poster on YouTube, is St. Luke's in London, an old church renovated as rehearsal space for the London Symphony Orchestra.

3 miserere mei Deus secundum misericordiam tuam iuxta multitudinem miserationum tuarum dele iniquitates meas
Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
4 multum lava me ab iniquitate mea et a peccato meo munda me
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
5 quoniam iniquitates meas ego novi et peccatum meum contra me est semper
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
6 tibi soli peccavi et malum coram te feci ut iustificeris in sermonibus tuis et vincas cum iudicaveris
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.
7 ecce in iniquitate conceptus sum et in peccato peperit me mater mea
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
8 ecce enim veritatem diligis absconditum et arcanum sapientiae manifestasti mihi
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
9 asparges me hysopo et mundabor lavabis me et super nivem dealbabor
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
10 auditum mihi facies gaudium et laetitiam ut exultent ossa quae confregisti
Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
11 absconde faciem tuam a peccatis meis et omnes iniquitates meas dele
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
12 cor mundum crea mihi Deus et spiritum stabilem renova in visceribus meis
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
13 ne proicias me a facie tua et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me
Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
14 redde mihi laetitiam Iesu tui et spiritu potenti confirma me
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
15 docebo iniquos vias tuas et peccatores ad te revertentur
Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
16 libera me de sanguinibus Deus Deus salutis meae laudabit lingua mea iustitiam tuam
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
17 Domine labia mea aperies et os meum adnuntiabit laudem tuam
O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
18 non enim vis ut victimam feriam nec holocaustum tibi placet
For thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
19 sacrificium Dei spiritus contribulatus cor contritum et humiliatum Deus non dispicies
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
20 benefac Domine in voluntate tua Sion et aedificentur muri Hierusalem
Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
21 tunc suscipies sacrificium iustitiae oblationes et holocausta tunc inponent super altare tuum vitulos
then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on thy altar.