Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Josquin Des Prez: Miserere mei Deus

Nathan confronts David with his sin: the occasion for Psalm 51
    For centuries Catholic artists have been creating beautiful things to honor God.  We have accumulated a treasury of works of unequaled loveliness – including a veritable horde of the most beautiful music ever conceived.  Sadly, most of it is rarely heard.  I’m not going to take this opportunity to complain about the contemporary music that is used in the liturgy today, although I certainly could point out that most of it is banal, trivial, and, sometimes even heretical.  No, I’m simply going to point out that in its place we could be praising our Lord with something truly magnificent.

     Case in point: Josquin Des Prez’s setting for Psalm 51.  Allegri’s “Miserere” (which I’ve posted more than once) is the most famous musical treatment of this Psalm; yesterday I posted another, Pergolesi’s version.  Des Prez makes a contribution worthy of their company: