Mozart and the Miserere

We've encountered true beauty. Will we share it? For the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, I'm John Stonestreet with The Point.

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Sitting solemnly in the Sistine Chapel, Amadeus and Leopold Mozart listened to the Miserere. Created from the 51st Psalm of David’s lament, the Miserere was adapted in 1638 by Gregorio Allegri. Kept under lock and key by Papal order, a threat of excommunication protected the choral masterpiece that was performed only in the Sistine Chapel twice a year during holy week.

The Amadeus father-son journey to Rome brought him face to face with the piece. Young Mozart transcribed the 12-minute piece from memory after hearing it the first time in the Chapel. The piece was later published by an English friend and is enjoyed by many throughout the world due to the brilliance of one fourteen-year-old boy and his desire to communicate beauty.

Mozart recreated the beauty he encountered during Holy Week in 1770. As we march through Lent, it’s easy to keep Easter’s beauty to ourselves. But we should follow the lead of this fourteen-year-old, bringing the beauty of Christ to those with ears to hear.


Further Reading

Miserere (Allegri)

London Mozartiana: Wolfgang's Disputed Age and Early Performances of Allegri's Miserere
The Musical Times | Summer 2011 | JSTOR


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