The Psalm was written by King David around 970 BC: after meeting with Nathan the prophet, who rebuked him for the double sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband, Uriah, David, sings praises of God asking for His forgiveness.
Many composers wrote music to accompany the powerful lyrics, among them Giovanni Martini, Josquin des Prez, Orlando di Lasso, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni Gabrieli, Carlo Gesualdo, Johann Adolf Hasse, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach (in German, echoing the music of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater), Michael Nyman, Arvo Pärt, Saverio Selecchy (his version is performed during the Good Friday Procession of Chieti, considered the oldest in Italy).
Saverio Selecchy (born Sallecchia, Chieti, 1708-1788) was a musician and choirmaster, the author of a large body of sacred music; most of his production is lost, fortunately not his masterpiece, the "Miserere in G minor", composed in 1767. For centuries, the traditional Procession on Good Friday in the city of Chieti has been accompanied by the music of Selecchy's Miserere, played by an orchestra of 100 violins and a choir, through the streets of the historical center.
In 1954 maestro Carlo Mantini of L'Aquila prepared the piece for three voices for a male choir. The performance is traditionally entrusted to a choir of 150 singers, including tenor, baritone, bass and string orchestra with 20 violins. Since then, every year the Procession of the Dead Christ on Good Friday, in the city of L'Aquila,parades in absolute silence with the choir and the orchestra performing Mantini's version of Selecchy's Miserere.