MUSIC AS AN EVANGELIZING SOURCE, PLACE OF WORSHIP AND PRAYER – Hymns of praise

PHOTO CAPTION: In Macau, the Social Communication Centre of the Diocese (Centro Diocesano dos Meios de Comunicação Social) held its first Catholic Cantonese Sacred Song Composition Contest this year. The awarding ceremony was held last Saturday 24 November. There were 18 songs composed by different people with different religious backgrounds.

– Miguel Augusto

Music occupies a privileged place in our day to day life, transporting us often in time; connecting us to moments that awaken nostalgic and striking memories in our lives. Music is a real stage of emotions – joy, sadness, peace… In the spiritual field, music can elevate us, transform our prayer, and extend our love for God. When we praise God by singing and by music, we always praise with emotion, and as St Augustine said: “He who sings, pray twice.”

Anglo-Saxon pop music, which dominates the planet and the music industry, was catapulted in the 20th century by English bands such as The Beatles. British talents have brought to the world famous and legendary rock bands such as Rolling Stones, The Who and Pink Floyd. Radio and television have helped spread those emerging bands, and millions have become fans and messengers of future generations.

Apart from the excesses, vices and extravagances, each band had its charisma, and many of them grew for their genuine work, coupled with a musicality of their own.

Much has been written about the popular pop-rock music, now diversified in many branches. It is noteworthy that at present, this branch of music has become a great machine to produce musicians and bands, almost made in the laboratory, with purposes that serve only economic and ideological interests of minorities that dominate the global market. The lyrics of the songs, the aesthetic presentation of the artists and the bands, the abuse and exaggeration of the exposition of the woman’s body, among many other things, nothing – as we know – is done naively.

Sometimes we see ourselves, and our children imitate these celebrity “maids,” singing songs and lyrics some of which poison our souls, in a world plunging vertiginously into a social, economic, ecological and religious abyss. Jesus had warned us: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). We find comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul: “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20).

Many musicians seek only the fame, the prestige, the glory of this fleeting world in stark contrast to the eternity that God offers us at His side.

The Lord, when He knew that Lazarus was dead, wept because he loved that family – just as He loves us all – and for love brought him back to life, a miracle He hopes to do in many of us sitting in the tomb of sin, deaf to the cry of the world. We do not hear the sweet voice of Christ calling us out of darkness and deceit. Sometimes we hope to be ourselves the “miracle” in our lives, continuing to bite the “apple” of sin, and many thus sink into sadness and despair, into depression, for without God, happiness is climbing towards a high and unreachable peak. Why? Because we were created by God and to live in communion with Him. Outside of this communion and intimacy, we are in communion with the world where lies in the evil one “We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

Jesus asks us for faith the size of a mustard seed, capable of moving a mountain (Matthew 17:20), inviting us to walk with Him on the waters, just as He did with the apostle Peter, without a doubt that we can do it (Matthew 14:25-31).

Fortunately, when we seek, we find in that in various areas of life, there are people who shine like light in a world where darkness predominates.

In the field of music, there are also those who stand out for praising God, using music as an instrument of faith, prayer and channel of evangelization. These artists put God at the center of their lives.

Music can be a time of prayer, an encounter with God. It can be a medium that leads us to the Scriptures, arousing interest in them, and allowing the Lord speak to us. Many talented adults and young people have felt called by grace, using their talents as instruments of God. With their songs and lyrics – many of them inspired and taken from the Bible – the Lord touches us.

Some internationally known Christian groups, though they are not Catholics, inspire us, in what they sing, in their musicality, in the testimony of their lives and the living of the faith. These musical groups and singers, many of them born in their churches, have conquered the world, and gained a reputation.

On the Christian Catholic side, there are also musicians and religious who put their talents in the hands of God, in the service of their brothers in Christ and their communion with the Lord. Music often turns out to be an evangelizing prayer that gains a new dimension and projection, often through the use of new technologies such as smartphones and media, via the internet.

Some Catholic bands and musicians have been cited at  the 3rd annual Cecilia Catholic Music Awards recently released by Aleteia (https://aleteia.org/2018/11/22/the-top-30-catholic-music-artists-of-2018/)

One of the appreciated musicians is the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who recently released an exciting duet with his son, Matteo Bocelli, where he talks about family values in his new single Fall on Me. Andrea Bocelli defines himself as a fervent Catholic and defender of life.

We can also cite a Brazilian Catholic priest, Father Marcelo Rossi, who has gathered thousands of faithful with his songs, and for his example in the search for holiness.

There is much to be done, using the talents that God has given us, to those who seek to unite with the Lord. We pray that He may move us, touch us, and be present in us with His light; a presence to enlighten and to radiate into what we allowed Him to create throw us.

“Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth; break into song; sing praise. Sing praise to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and melodious song. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy to the King, the LORD. Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and those who dwell there”(Psalms. 98: 4-7).

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