The Vatican Would Have Had Your Balls On A Plate If You Dared To Play This Song Back In The Day

by • April 8, 2012 • History, MusicComments (0)2303

Last Friday I made the gruelling 9-hour drive from Montreal to Nairn Centre, Ontario, to visit my family for Easter.  For a total of 18 hours I made the most of my iPod by listening to as much amazing music as possible.  The highlights would have to be a cluster of exceptional remixes courtesy of SUN GLITTERS — most notably the “Mix 4 T M I Radio ARA” which you can listen to on SUN GLITTERS’ Soundcloud.  About halfway there I found myself in North Bay, Ontario, and took a break from SUN GLITTERS to tune into SHIFT With Tom Allen, one of the best damn classical music programs on Earth (the first half is classical and the second half is filled with singer-songwriter/pop).  I’m not big on the second half of his show, but the first part is always phenomenal.  Each classical selection comes with a fascinating backstory courtesy of Tom, one of which was last Friday’s story about the iconic composition “Miserere Mei Deus, Psalm 51”.  Before pressing play, Tom proceeded to tell the story of how waaaaaaaay back in the day when people were actually afraid of the Vatican’s power, there was one piece of music that was specifically reserved for the Easter ceremony inside Saint Peter’s Basilica.  The song was so exclusive, as a matter of fact, that if anyone was caught trying to copy/replicate it in a live performance outside of Saint Peter’s walls, they would be excommunicated immediately (or worse).  The song was performed performed only one time each year, and at one very precise moment in particular: over the course of the long ritual, a series of candles were extinguished very slowly, and as the silence grew ever more deafening, one final candle was left alone.  Even though I’m not Catholic by any stretch of the imagination, I can still appreciate what it must have felt like to be inside that extraordinary space at the height of the worship when that one, solitary candle remained — being the only source of light inside Michelangelo’s gigantic (and jaw-dropping) church — and having this song erupt from the choir.  Religious or not, it’s a profound song.  I, myself, have decided to run a bath now that I’m home from my 1,800km / 18-hour-long trip, spark up a candle, press play on this clip below, and pray to the gods at AVIS Rent-A-Car and thank them for upgrading me to that brand new (and amazing) Volkswagen Golf that I got to enjoy all weekend long.  I worship thee, thy divine German auto engineers!  To learn more about the history of “Miserere Mei Deus, Psalm 51” CLICK HERE.

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