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Musical Musings: Miscellaneous

Need for Preparation

by Pope John Paul II

The following is an excerpt from a homily Pope John Paul II delivered to 20,000 musicians celebrating the first centenary of the Italian Saint Cecilia Association.

The composition and performance of real music call for a specific preparation, both artistic and spiritual-liturgical. At this moment I cannot but praise all those initiatives which aim both at offering composers adequate aid, suggestions, and instruments, and at giving singers the possibility of dedicating part of their time to this form of expression, which is sacred music.

It is necessary, therefore, that in the liturgical music practice of the Latin Church, new importance should be given to the immense heritage that civilization, culture and Christian art have produced in so many centuries. The acceptance of forms and instruments typical of other civilizations and cultures will have to be carried out with discernment, in full respect for the genius of peoples, and with that healthy pluralism which is above all a safeguard of the characteristic values of an individual civilization and culture, which only in this way will be able to accept and assimilate, with the test of prudent and sifted experience, elements of other origins, which do not pervert its nature, but enrich it (cf. Gaudium et spes, n.44)

Beloved brothers and sisters! On this solemn celebration which sees you gathered rejoicing round the Pope, to thank the Lord for the hundred years of life of your Association, I say to you: Love the "Italian Saint Cecilia Association!" Follow it! Support it! Continue with renewed fervor in the magnificent work which is at once a synthesis of "art" and of "faith"! But precisely because "sacred" music is an expression and manifestation of faith -- of the faith of the Church and her members -- in your behavior as Christians, at the interior level and at the level of exterior witness there must be perfect harmony and real consistency between your singing and your life. "Those who sing to God -- Saint Augustine tells us -- live of God; those who psalmodize to his Name, act for his glory. Singing in this way, psalmodizing in this way, that is, living in this way, operating in this way ... you prepare the way for Christ, in order that the hearts of the faithful may be opened to him through the work of evangelizers."

If you are true Christians, with your singing you will be evangelizers, that is, messengers of Christ in the modern world! Amen!

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