Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Sacred music "is not an embellishment of the liturgy, it is liturgy" and is a tool that can help new evangelization as it "may have, and in fact has an important task, to encourage rediscovery of God, a renewed approach to the Christian message and the mysteries of faith".
Benedict XVI, known to be very attentive to the liturgy and a music lover - he also plays the piano - took the opportunity of the meeting this morning with the participants in a meeting sponsored by the Italian Music Academy of Santa Cecilia to highlight the role and tasks of sacred music He also underlined the "great tradition" of Gregorian chant and polyphony. "If in fact faith is always born from hearing the Word of God - a listening not only of the senses, but that passes from the senses to the mind and heart - there is no doubt that music and especially singing can give the recitation of the psalms and biblical canticles greater communicative power. "
The Pope highlighted two aspects of sacred music. First, as stated in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, in line with the tradition of the Church, "the combination of sacred music and words, forms a necessary and integral part of solemn liturgy" (no. 112). "Why," necessary and integral "? Certainly not for aesthetic reasons, but because it cooperates to nourish and express faith, and thus to glorify God and sanctify the faithful, who are the ends of all sacred music (cf. ibid.). I would like to thank you for the valuable service provided: the music you perform is not an accessory or embellishment of the liturgy, but the liturgy itself. You help the whole Assembly to praise God, to his Word deeply into their heart: by singing, you pray and you help pray, and participate in the singing of the liturgy and prayer that embraces the whole of creation to glorify the Creator. "
"The second aspect that I propose for your consideration is the relationship between sacred music and the new evangelization. The conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy points to the importance of sacred music in the mission ad gentes and urges us to enhance the musical traditions of the peoples (cf. n. 119). But even in traditionally Christian countries, such as Italy, sacred music can have and in fact has an important task in order to facilitate the discovery of God, a renewed approach to the Christian message and the mysteries of faith. Consider the famous experience of Paul Claudel, who converted through listening to the singing of the Magnificat at Vespers one Christmas in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris: "In that moment - he writes - the event took place that now dominates my entire life. In a single instant my heart was touched, and I believed. I believed with such a force of adhesion, with such an elevation of my entire being, a conviction so powerful, with a certainty that left no room for doubt that, thereafter, no reasoning, no circumstance of my hectic life have ever shaken or touched my faith. "But, without resorting to famous people, let us think about how many people have been touched to their depths by listening to sacred music, and even more to those who have felt drawn to God by the beauty of liturgical music like Claudel. And here, dear friends, you have an important role: strive to improve the quality of liturgical chant, without fear, to restore and enhance the great musical tradition of the Church, that has two of the highest expressions in Gregorian chant and polyphony, as stated by the Second Vatican Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116). And I would like to emphasize that the active participation of the entire People of God in the liturgy is not only speaking but also listening, in welcoming to the senses and the spirit of the Word, and this also applies to the liturgical music. You, who have the gift of song, you can sing to the hearts of many people in liturgical celebrations. "
With the hope that "the liturgical music reaches ever greater heights, to worthily praise the Lord and to show how the Church is a place where the beauty is at home."