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The original hymn, in latin, was written in the 13th century and is based upon the New Testament prophecy by Simeon that a sword would pierce the heart/soul of the mother of Jesus. (Luke 2:35)

Many hold that the composition/arrangement by Pergolesi is the most beautiful and emotive of all.

The first verse roughly translates as "The sorrowful Mother stood, crying, by the cross from which her son was hanging"

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