Renew Music in Light of Tradition, Pope Exhorts

“Sacred Polyphony Must Be Maintained Alive”

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2006 ( Benedict XVI has called for an authentic updating of sacred music that takes into account the tradition of the Church.

“Sacred polyphony,” the Holy Father said Saturday after a concert held in his honor by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation, “especially the so-called ‘Roman school,’ is a legacy that must be carefully conserved, maintained alive and made known.”

It will be of “benefit not only to scholars and enthusiasts, but to the ecclesial community as a whole, for which it represents an inestimable spiritual, artistic and cultural heritage,” the Pope said, after the concert in the Sistine Chapel.

“An authentic updating of sacred music cannot occur except in line with the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian Chant, and of sacred polyphony,” the Pontiff added.

“This is why,” Benedict XVI said, “in the musical field, as well as in that of other artistic forms, the ecclesial community has always promoted and supported those who investigate new expressive ways without rejecting the past, the history of the human spirit, which is also the history of its dialogue with God.”

Prayer for the Pope

The concert, directed by Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci, 89, included a selection of motets composed by the permanent director of the Sistine Pontifical Musical Chapel, alternated with compositions by Giovanni Pierluigi of Palestrina (1525-1594).

In honor of Benedict XVI, Monsignor Bartolucci included “Oremus pro Pontifice Nostro Benedicto” (“Let Us Pray for Our Pontiff Benedict”), a composition he wrote in April, 2005, as a prayer for the Petrine ministry.

In memory of Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Auschwitz, the monsignor also included “Super Fulmina,” a composition he wrote as a seminarian, which recounts the desolation of the Jews who wept during their exile in Babylon.

The Bishop of Rome said in his words of gratitude that “the spirit spontaneously points out the need to praise, bless, give thanks” to the Lord, “supreme beauty and harmony, who has given man the capacity to express himself with the language of music and singing.”

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