The psalm's opening words in Latin, Miserere mei, Deus, have led to its being called the Miserere Mei or even just Miserere. It is often known by this name in musical settings.
The New King James Version of the Bible introduces it: To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
But the Hebrew linguist and scholar Robert Alter identifies an additional jagged sharpness and translates it: ...a David psalm, upon Nathan the prophet's coming to him when he had come to bed with Bathsheba. He comments: 'The Hebrew verb used for both Nathan and David is "to come to [or "into"]," but in the former instance it refers to the prophet's entering the king's chambers, whereas the latter instance reflects its sexual sense.'
The superscription in the Septuagint reads: "For the End: A Psalm of David, When Nathan the Prophet Came unto Him, When He Went in unto Bersabee (Batheshba) the Wife of Urias."
As a penitential psalm, Psalm 50 (using the Septuagint numbering) is one of the most frequently used psalms in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite. It is typically included during the Mystery of Repentance (corresponding to the sacrament of confession), in personal daily prayers, and many of the liturgical services. The various services of the Daily Office may be combined into three aggregates (evening, morning and noonday), and are so arranged that Psalm 50 is read during each aggregate.
In Western Christianity, Psalm 51 (using the Masoretic numbering) is also used liturgically.
In the Roman Catholic Church this psalm may be assigned by a priest to a penitent as a penance after Confession. Verse 7 of the psalm is traditionally sung as the priest sprinkles holy water over the congregation before Mass, in a rite known as the Asperges me, the first two words of the verse in Latin. It also is prayed in Morning Prayer every Friday in the Liturgy of the Hours.
One of the best-known settings of the Miserere is the 17th century version by Roman School composer Gregorio Allegri. According to a famous story, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, aged only fourteen, heard the piece performed once, on April 11, 1770, and after going back to his lodging for the night was able to write out the entire score from memory. He went back a day or two later with his draft to correct some errors. That the final chorus comprises a ten-part harmony underscores the prodigiousness of the young Mozart's musical genius. The piece is also noteworthy in having numerous high C's in the treble solos.
Orlando di Lasso: Prachthandschriften und Quellenuberlieferung; aus den Bestanden der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek Munchen.
Dec 01, 1995; With the help of historical perspective one could argue that the Netherlander Orlando di Lasso, and not Richard Strauss, was...
JOHANN CHRISTOPH BACH: Herr, werde dich und sei mir gnädig. Mit Weinen hebt sich's an. Wie bist du den, o Gott. Der Gerechte, ob er gleich zu zeitlich stirbt. Ach, dass ich Wassers g'nug hätte. Fürchte dich nicht. Es ist nun aus mit meinem Leben. Meine Freundin, di bist schön
Mar 01, 2012; JOHANN CHRISTOPH BACH Herr, werde dich und sei mir gnädig. Mit Weinen hebt sich's an. Wie bist du den, o Gott. Der Gerechte, ob...