Prior Puts Pauline Year to Music

Composes Reflections on the Apostle Paul

ROME, MARCH 12, 2008 ( Knowing a celebration isn’t complete without a theme song, the prior of the Abbey of St. Paul Outside the Walls has composed the official hymn of the Pauline Year.

Benedictine Father Johannes Paul Abrahamowicz composed both a hymn — “You Have Been Raised With Christ” — and a litany — “The Oil Flows Over” — for the Year of St. Paul.

The Pauline Year, called by Benedict XVI in 2007, will run from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, and will commemorate the second millennium of the birth of St. Paul.

Father Abrahamowicz explained to ZENIT the origin of the hymn and litany: “They are actually musical reflections; I don’t consider them my own work or composition in the strict sense.”

The Benedictine prior said he’s not a musician by training, “but ever since I was a child, I’ve been very receptive to music, and when I heard a prayer or I had a religious thought or really delved into a scripture passage, there was a echo inside of me, and then, at a certain point, I started writing music.”

Regarding the hymn and litany, he said both are available on the Web site for the Pauline Year: “This music does not have a commercial purpose. What’s more, all the songs are free; they can be downloaded for free.”


Father Abrahamowicz said that to understand the hymn of St. Paul, it must be seen in light of the larger composition he wrote in Italian on Paul titled “Il Figlio di Dio. Israel e i Cristiani” (The Son of God: Israel and the Christians).

“In that work I include what has struck me the most,” he said, “is the fact that Saul fell to the ground, and is practically holding in his hands the authorization to kill Christians; the Risen Christ appears to him and he realizes that the people around him don’t understand what is happening.”

The Benedictine prior continues: “They say, ‘This guy is acting like he’s blind,’ and [Paul] doesn’t even know at that point if he will recover his sight, but he practically says: ‘I’m blind, and I will be blind for the rest of my life; but the last thing I saw will help me see beyond.’”

Father Abrahamowicz adds, “Paul realizes that this authorization he has to kill Christians has become his own death sentence, so he has a momentary crises as he wavers between escaping or staying there by himself, but he decides: ‘I will believe in Jesus, who I have seen; I will proclaim Jesus; now others will try to kill me, precisely because I have this authorization that says whoever believes in Jesus will be led to their death.’”

“This is a fascinating theme for me,” said the composer. “So throughout the music the passage about Paul is present, where he will rise up and will say: ‘Kill me; the last thing my eyes saw will be the first thing I will proclaim in the new world: Jesus is the Son of God.’

“And then he began to preach about the Son of God, and this teaching is precisely the hymn of St. Paul.”

[Marta Lago contributed to this report]

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