The Liturgy Has Need of Beauty

Made public yesterday afternoon were the words pronounced by Benedict XVI at the end of a concert given in the Sistine Chapel on December 20 by the Cappella Musicale Pontificia, also known as the Sistine Choir.

“On the night the Savior was born,” the Pope told members of the choir, “the Angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds with the words: Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra Pax hominibus. Tradition has always held that the angels did not simply speak as men do, but that they sung and that theirs was a song of celestial beauty revealing the beauty of heaven. Tradition also holds that choirs of unbroken voices can help us to feel the resonance of angelic song. And it is true that in the music of Sistine Chapel, in the great liturgies, we can feel the presence of a celestial liturgy, a small taste of the beauty by which the Lord wishes to communicate His joy.

“Indeed, praise of God calls for song,” said the Holy Father. “For this reason, your contribution is essential to the liturgy; it is not some marginal adornment, quite the contrary, the liturgy requires this beauty, it needs song in order to praise God and to bring joy to the participants.”

The Pope concluded: “I would like to thank you with all my heart. The liturgy of the Pope, the liturgy of St. Peter, must be an exemplary liturgy for the world. You know that today, through television and radio, many people all over the world follow this liturgy; from here they learn what the liturgy is and how it must be celebrated. That is why it is so important, not only that our masters of ceremonies show the Pope how to celebrate the liturgy well, but also that the Sistine Chapel should be an example of the beauty of song in praise of God.”

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