Pope Benedict XVI on the importance of music

Back in April 2008 the Holy Father spoke on “the spiritual value of the art of music which, in a special way, is called to infuse hope into the human soul, marked and sometimes injured by its earthly condition. There is a profound and mysterious relationship between music and hope, between song and eternal life”, he said. “It is no coincidence that Christian tradition shows the spirits of the blessed as they sing in chorus, captivated and enraptured by the beauty of God. But true art, like prayer, is not foreign to everyday reality, rather it calls us to ‘irrigate’ that reality, to make it sprout that it may bring forth fruits of goodness and peace.

He went on to discuss the “the universal importance of artistic heritage”. In this context he mentioned the young, who can draw “new inspiration” from such heritage “in order to build a world founded on justice and solidarity, putting the multiform expressions of world culture to good account at the service of mankind”.

Benedict XVI mentioned the importance of “educating people to recognise true beauty has for the formation of the young”, and he explained how art “contributes to refining their souls and leads towards the construction of a society open to the ideals of the spirit.

Italy, [and we might say, the Church (TL)] with is exceptional artistic heritage, can, in this regard, play an important role in the world”, he concluded. “The quantity and quality of monuments and works of art the country [the Church (TL)] possesses effectively make it a universal ‘messenger’ of all the values which art, at one and the same time, expresses and promotes. In the same way, the festive nature of song and music are a constant invitation to believers and to men and women of good will to commit themselves to giving humanity a future rich in hope”.

Below are the news articles from which I gathered the quotes.


Pope lauds “spiritual value” of music

Vatican, Apr. 25, 2008 (CWNews.com) – After attending a musical concert staged in his honor on April 24 by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Pope Benedict XVI (bionews) remarked that he saw the event as “a further sign of the great affection the Italian people nurture for the Pope.”

The Holy Father sat with President Napolitano and his elder brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, as a program of works by Berio, Brahms, and Beethoven was presented by the Giuseppe Verdi orchestra in the Paul VI auditorium of the Vatican. The concert was arranged by the Italian president to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election. (That anniversary actually occurred on April 19, while the Pontiff was in New York.) After the musical performance the Pope spoke of “the spiritual value of the art of music which, in a special way, is called to infuse hope into the human soul.” He added that Italy, “with its exceptional artistic heritage,” has an important role to play in helping to inform the souls of the world– and particularly of the young– with the benefits of artistic vision and truth. The Pope reminded the audience in the Vatican auditorium that the Church has traditionally portrayed the joy of heaven by depicting the blessed souls in chorus, singing the praises of God. That image, he said, underlines the connection between musical harmony and religious truth.

POPE-MUSIC Apr-25-2008 (290 words) xxxi

Pope says music can bring hope to wounded world

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Music can bring hope to a wounded humanity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

At the end of an evening concert held in his honor April 24 to mark the third anniversary of the start of his pontificate, Pope Benedict said there is “a mysterious and deep kinship between music and hope, between song and eternal life.”

The musical arts, therefore, have enormous spiritual value and are called to “instill hope in the human spirit so scarred and at times wounded by earthly life,” he said.

Milan‘s Giuseppe Verdi symphony orchestra and chorus performed works by Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven and Luciano Berio in the Vatican‘s Paul VI hall to a large audience that included the pope’s elder brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

Italy‘s President Giorgio Napolitano, who sat next to the pope during the performance, offered the concert to the pope as a gift.

Pope Benedict told the audience the joy music and song bring is “a constant invitation to the faithful and people of good will to dedicate themselves to offer humanity a future rich with hope.”

Any “authentic art” is just like prayer and never represents escapism from reality, he said.

Rather the arts, like prayer, prompt people to improve the world and cultivate it so that it can bear the fruits of peace and goodness, he said.

Pope Benedict praised Italy‘s rich cultural and artistic heritage, urging the country to be an example to the rest of the world.

Young people need to learn about “authentic beauty” and have the opportunity to let art “refine their soul and guide them toward the building of a world that is open to spiritual ideals.”




Paul VI Audience Hall
Thursday, 24 April 2008

Mr President,
Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the end of this splendid concert, I am pleased to address a cordial greeting to all of you who have taken part: Civil and Military Authorities, distinguished Figures and friends who have come to share this moment of high cultural value. I would especially like to express my deep gratitude to the Honourable Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic, who on the occasion of the third anniversary of my Pontificate has wished to offer me this gift, accompanying it with courteous words which I much appreciated. Thank you, Mr President, for this respectful and caring gesture which I welcomed with deep pleasure! I see it as a further sign of the great affection the Italian People have for the Pope. I extend my greeting to your gracious wife and to your collaborators.

Certain of interpreting the sentiments of everyone present, I address my heartfelt congratulations to the “Giuseppe Verde” Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Milan, beautifully conducted by Mr Oleg Caetani, who have played and sung with extraordinary talent and effectiveness. I likewise extend my appreciation to the conductor of the Choir, Ms Erina Gambarini. I express a cordial thought of gratitude to the directors of the praiseworthy “Giuseppe Verdi” Foundation, encouraging them to continue on the prestigious path of art and culture on which they have set out, whose value, as I know, is also enhanced by their commitment to bring music to alleviate situations of human difficulty, such as those that occur in hospitals and prisons. My gratitude is naturally addressed to all who have contributed to the organization and realization of this evocative event, supporting it in different ways.

We have had the joy of listening with attentive participation to demanding compositions by Luciano Berio, Johannes Brahms and Ludwig van Beethoven. I would like to emphasize that the music of Brahms enriched with religious trust Hölderlin’s “Song of Destiny”. This factor introduces consideration of the spiritual value of the art of music, uniquely called to instil hope in the human spirit, so scarred and sometimes wounded by the earthly condition. There is a mysterious and deep kinship between music and hope, between song and eternal life: not for nothing does the Christian tradition portray the Blessed in the act of singing in a choir, in ecstasy and enraptured by the beauty of God. But authentic art, like prayer, is not foreign to everyday reality although it requires us to “water” it and make it germinate if it is to bring forth the fruit of goodness and peace.

The masterful interpretations we have heard also remind us of the value and universal importance of the artistic heritage. I am thinking especially of the young generations, who can approach this heritage with ever new inspiration in order to build the world in accordance with works of justice and solidarity at the service of humanity, by employing the multiform expressions of world culture. I am also thinking of the importance for young peoples’ formation of education in authentic beauty. Art overall helps to refine their minds and orients them to building a society open to spiritual ideals.
In this regard, Italy, with its exceptional artistic heritage, can play an important role in the world: in fact, the quantity and quality of the monuments and artworks it possesses make it a universal “messenger” of all the values that art expresses and at the same time promotes. The festivity of song and music are likewise a constant invitation to believers and people of good will to commit themselves to giving humanity a future rich in hope.

Mr President of the Republic, thank you again for the wonderful present you have wished to offer me and for the sentiments that have accompanied it. I reciprocate them, assuring you of my remembrance in prayer that the Lord may protect you, your gracious wife, the Authorities and the entire People of Italy. With these wishes which I entrust to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel, I invoke God’s Blessing on all those present and on their respective families. Thank you and good evening to you all!

© Copyright 2008 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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