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Grab your tissues, this “Psalm 50” will make you cry

Trio Mandili - "Psalm 50"

Trio Mandili - Fair Use via YouTube

J-P Mauro - published on 11/17/23

Fr. Bit-Kharib’s performance of this hymn for the Pope was excellent, but in the end, the song may sound even better with the trio of female voices.

There are few things that can pierce the stone wall around the emotions of a millennial man in his mid 30s, but this writer will admit that he wept like a babe throughout this stunningly remarkable rendition of “Psalm 50.” This phenomenal hymn, expertly performed by Trio Mandili – a Georgian musical group that specializes in Gregorian chant – is one of the finest pieces of religious music we’ve ever heard

Performed from an unnamed chapel, with four uncredited male vocalists supplying the drone, Trio Mandili (Mandili referring to the headscarves they wear) sang their “Psalm 50” with a desperate tone that perfectly suits a Psalm that begs the Lord for mercy. Singers Tatuli Mgeladze, Tako Tsiklauri, and Mariam Kurasbediani make for an exceptional trio, blending beautifully together and standing out extraordinarily on their solos. 

The song was popularized by Father Seraphim Bit-Kharib, a Georgian Orthodox priest and talented vocalist. Aleteia previously featured Fr. Bit-Kharib’s performance of the Psalm for Pope Francis during his 2016 visit to Georgia. Fr. Bit-Kharib’s displays an enthusiastic and crisp tenor voice, but in the end the song may sound even better with the trio of female voices featured above. 

While Trio Mandili cites the hymn as “Psalm 50,” and Fr. Bit Kharib’s rendition is cited as “Psalm 53,” the translation of the Aramaic lyrics provided by Trio Mandili in the video’s explanation actually points the origins of the tune to Psalm 51. The provided translation reads: 

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy kindness:
According to the abundance of thy mercies, blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in thy sight:
So that You are justified when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy kindness:
According to the abundance of thy mercies, blot out my transgressions.

Trio Mandili has been active as a musical group since 2014 and the group has four full albums under its belt. Their fine offerings of chant in a variety of languages – including Aramaic, Polish, and Hindi – are available to hear on Spotify and Apple Music. Be sure to follow them on YouTube to keep up with all their latest releases. 

Catholic MusicHymnOrthodoxy
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