Miserere, Saverio Selecchy

Year after year, during the Lenten period, Good Friday processions are accompanied by an ancient penitential hymn, the Miserere, sung in Latin to the merciful God by repentant sinners asking for forgiveness.

Miserere, Saverio Selecchy
The lyrics, whose opening words are "Miserere mei Deus" (Have mercy on me, O God) are derived from one of the seven penitential psalms of liturgy (No. 50 according in the Vulgate and No. 51 according to Jewish tradition) which expresses the moral weakness of the human being.

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.

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Miserere - Miserere - Miserere mei Deus,
secundum -secundum -secundum
misericordiam tuam.
Miserere - Miserere mei Deus.
Have mercy upon me, O God,
After Thy
great mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God
Amplius lava me
ab iniquitate mea:
et a peccato meo munda me:
miserere mei Deus.
Thoroughly wash me
From my wickedness
and from my sin cleanse me
Have mercy on me, O God
Tibi soli peccavi,
et malum coram te feci:
ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis
et vincas cum judicaris. Miserere - Miserere mei Deus.
Against Thee only have I sinned
and evil in thy sight I did:
that Thou might be justified in thy
and prevail when Though judge
Have mercy on me, O God
Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti:
incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae
manifestasti mihi.
Miserere mei Deus.
Here indeed Thou loved the truth
the hidden secrets of thy wisdom
Thou hast revealed to me.
Have mercy on me, O God
Auditui meo dabis
gaudium et letitiam:
et exultabunt ossa humiliata.
Miserere mei Deus.
Thou will give to my ears
joy and gladness;
and broken bones will rejoice.
Have mercy on me, O God
Cor mundum crea in me Deus:
et spiritum rectum innova in
visceribus meis.
Miserere mei Deus.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
renew a right spirit
inside my body.
Have mercy on me, O God
Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui:
et spiritu principali
confirma me.
Miserere mei Deus.
Give me back the joy of Thy salvation,
and make me stronger
in steadfast spirit.
Have mercy on me, O God
Libera me de sanguinibus Deus,
salutis meae:
et exultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.
Miserere mei Deus.
Deliver me from blood, O God,
Of my salvation:
And my tongue shall exalt Thy justice.
Have mercy on me, O God
Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium,
dedissem utique holocaustis
non delectaberis.
Miserere mei Deus.
Since if Thou had wanted a sacrifice
I would surely have made it
Thou will not delight in burnt-offerings.
Have mercy on me, O God
Benigne fac domine:
in bona voluntate tua Sion:
ut aedificentur muri Jerusalem.
Miserere mei Deus.
Be favourable O God
unto Sion with Thy love ,
so the walls of Jerusalem will rise.
Have mercy on me, O God