Maundy Thursday Musical Devotion

Maundy Thursday Musical Devotion

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Miserere Mei Deus

Around 1638, Gregorio Allegri composed Miserere Mei Deus (“Have Mercy On Me, God”) specifically for the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service. The Tenebrae takes place after dark. Over the course of the worship service, the candles are extinguished, leaving the sanctuary in darkness at the very end, symbolising the darkness of the tomb.

Miserere Mei Dues is a musical setting of Psalm 51. Here is the English translation of the Latin:

Have mercy on me, God
According to your great kindness
And according to the multitude of your mercies,
Erase my iniquities
Wash me completely from my iniquities
And cleanse me of my sins
For I know my iniquities
And my sins are always before me
To you alone, I have sinned
And done evil before you
That you may be fair in your speech
And justified in your judgement
Behold, I was conceived in iniquity
And in sin did my mother conceived me
Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts
And you teach me wisdom in the hidden places
Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow
Let me hear your joy and gladness
And my humble bones will rejoice
Turn your face away from my sins
And erase all of my iniquities
Create in me a pure heart, oh, God,
And renew your right spirit within me
Do not turn me away from your sight,
And do not take your Holy Spirit from me
Return to me the gladness of your salvation
And uphold me with a willing spirit
I will teach sinners your way
And they will be converted unto you
Save me from blood,
God, God of my salvation
My tongue will praise of your righteousness
Lord, open my lips
And my mouth will sing your glory
For you don’t delight in sacrifices, or I would do so
Nor do you desire burnt offerings
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit
A broken and humble heart
God will not despise
Do well before the Lord in your good pleasure to Zion
And build the walls of Jerusalem
Then you accept the sacrifices of righteousness
In oblations and burnt offerings
Then they will offer bulls on your altar.

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