Vatican City, Oct 24, 2016 / 03:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Liturgical music has the ability to communicate the love of God — and it's this message that gives it the power to help bring others to Christ, said the choir director of the Diocese of Rome.
“I believe music is a powerful tool to evangelize because evangelization is to impart in the heart of man the joy of Christ, the love of Christ,” Msgr. Marco Frisina told CNA Oct. 21. Music is like planting “this seed of joy in the heart, it is a great power.”
Msgr. Frisina, also a renowned composer, in 1984 founded the Choir of the Diocese of Rome for singing at the most important diocesan liturgies, many of which are presided over by the pope. It now comprises over 250 members. One of the speakers at a Jubilee of Choirs which took place at the Vatican Oct. 21-23, among those who participated were laity, priests, directors of liturgical offices, choir conductors, musicians, organists and diocesan and parish choirs.
Held in liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II, the goal of the event, according to the Jubilee of Choirs website, was “to focus on music as a tool of extraordinary communication and how to live the Liturgy as the highest moment of the expression of our faith and Christian culture.”
On Saturday, all of the participating choirs joined with the Choir of the Diocese of Rome to perform a concert in the Paul VI Hall dedicated to St. John Paul II and Divine Mercy. Friday the schedule included a training on the topic “Sing Mercy.” Speakers included Msgr. Frisina, Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, president of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and Msgr. Massimo Palombella, Director of the Choir of the Sistine Chapel.
Msgr. Palombella agreed that music can be a tool for evangelization, particularly by providing an element of unity between the different Christian religions. “Researching about the common source of the music we can find a lot of things that allow unity between Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran,” he told CNA. “So every year on the Solemnity of Peter and Paul there is a project which started with Pope Benedict, every year we sing together, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and the music is the element of unity.”
Msgr. Palombella said that the Choir of the Sistine Chapel, considered to be the oldest choir in the world, doesn’t go on tour in Europe and throughout the world to only “sing good music.” Instead, it is approached as a means of evangelization. This is possible because liturgical music, one of the sources of Western music, is able to attract and interest many people who love and care about music, not just those with a religious interest, offering a “cultural” approach to evangelization as well, he said.
The three day Jubilee of Choirs concluded on Sunday with a pilgrimage to the Holy Door, Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and the Angelus with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square. Msgr. Frisina emphasized that what makes music so attractive to people is the love of God contained in it. “The power of music, for liturgical music, is the power of love,” he said. To sing about the love of God is “to pray with our whole self.”