Miserere Mei, Deus

The above title is Latin for “Have mercy on me, O God,” a phrase from Psalm 51.

It is also the title of a stunningly beautiful piece of music composed by Gregorio Allegri sometime around the 1630’s.  It was intended for exclusive use in the Sistine Chapel during the morning services of Holy Week.  These services typically began around 3:00 AM, and during the rituals, candles would be extinguished until only one remained.

At some point, it became forbidden to transcribe this music and was allowed to be performed only at the services described above, adding to the mystery surrounding it.  However, in 1770, a fourteen-year-old Mozart was visiting Rome.  Hearing the piece for the first time during the Wednesday morning service, he left the chapel to write it down from memory.  It is said that he returned on Friday for a second listen to make some minor revisions.  He published the piece a year later, effectively ending the “ban” and earning him surprising praise from the Pope, who was understandably astounded at the musical genius before him.

When your schedule today will fifteen minutes of listening, press “play” on the video below and be blessed by this once mysterious, ever-majestic creation, dedicated to the Creator and Redeemer of all.


Sacred Spaces and Cracks for Creativity

The times they are a-changing.  And so are the ways we think… and don’t.

Interruption-free space is sacred. Yet, in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the Internet, people, and other forms of distraction. Our cars now have mobile phone integration and a thousand satellite radio stations. When walking from one place to another, we have our devices streaming data from dozens of sources. Even at our bedside, we now have our iPads with heaps of digital apps and the world’s information at our fingertips.

There has been much discussion about the value of the “creative pause“–a state described as “the shift from being fully engaged in a creative activity to being passively engaged, or the shift to being disengaged altogether.” This phenomenon is the seed of the break-through “a-ha!” moments that people so frequently report having in the shower. In these moments, you are completely isolated, and your mind is able to wander and churn big questions without interruption.

However, despite the incredible power and potential of sacred spaces, they are quickly becoming extinct. We are depriving ourselves of every opportunity for disconnection. And our imaginations suffer the consequences.

The above comes from an article titled, “What Happened to Downtime?”  It contains some fascinating reflections on the distractions of the digital age and the hit that human creativity and focus are taking in the process.  It’s a short read, but the whole article can be viewed HERE.