UPDATED: Edited for Grammar and corrections.
Discourse of His Holiness Benedict XVI
The Original in Italian from the Vatican Website
Via di Torre Rossa, Roma
Sabato, 13 ottobre 2007
Venerable Episcopal and Sacerdotal Brothers
Dear Professors and Students of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music!
On the Memorable day of 21 November 1985, my beloved predecessor John Paul II visited these "aedes Sancti Hieronymi de Urbe", where, since its foundation in 1932, by Pope Pius XI, an elect community of Benedictine Monks had busily worked for the revision of the Biblia Vulgata. It was a moment in which, by the will of the Holy See, the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music was transferred here, while retaining the head office in the Palazzo dell’Apollinare, the historical Gregory XIII Hall, the Academic Hall or the Grand Hall of the Institute, which is now called the “sanctuary” where the solemn academies and concerts are held. The grand organ, donated (given as a gift) to Pope Pius XI by Madame Justine Ward in 1932, has been integrally restored with the generous contribution of the government of the “Generalitat de Catalunya.” I am happy to greet at this time the representatives of the above-mentioned Government present here today.
I come with joy to the didactic seat of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, completely renovated. With this visit I inaugurate and bless the imposing restoration effected these last few years, initiated by the Holy See and with significant contributions from various benefactors, from which stands out the “Foundation For Music and Sacred Arts”, which took on the integral restoration of the Library. Ideally I intend to inaugurate and bless even the restorations effected in the Academic Hall where, on the stage, beside the abovementioned grand organ, was placed a magnificent pianoforte, a gift from Telecom Italia Mobile to the beloved Pope John Paul II for “his” Institute of Sacred Music.”
I wish to express my recognition of the Lord Cardinal Zenon Grochelewski, Prefect for the Congregation for Catholic Education and our Grand Chancellor, for the courteous inaugurations he extended to me on your behalf. I voluntarily confirm here and now my esteem and my pleasure for the work the academic body, together with the President, conducts itself with a sense of responsibility and appreciated professionalism. I extend my greetings to all present here: the families with children, and the friends who accompanied them, the officials, the personnel, the students, and the residents, as also the representatives of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae [International Consociate of Sacred Music] and of the Foederatio Internationalis Pueri Cantores. [International Federation of Child Singers]
Your Pontifical Institute is fast approaching the centenary of its foundation under Saint Pope Pius X, who erected, in 1911 with his short Expleverunt desiderii, the “Superior School of Sacred Music”; this, after successive interventions of Benedict XV and Pius XI, then became the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music by the Apostolic Constitution Deus scientiarum Dominus by Pius XI, actively engaged, even today, in the fulfilment of its original mission in the service of the Universal Church. Many students, who came here from all over the world for their instruction in the discipline of Sacred Music, became in the turn instructors in their local churches. And how many have there been in the course of nearly a century. I am pleased to extend a dear greeting to him who, in his splendid longevity, represents the “historical memory” of the Institute and personifies many others who worked here: The Master Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci.
It is important to me, in this Seat, to call to mind with reference to Sacred Music the Second Vatican Council: Moving inline with secular tradition, the Council affirms that it “constitutes a treasure of inestimable worth which excels all the artistic expressions, especially in the solemn liturgy” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 112). How rich is the Bibilical and Patristic tradition to underline the efficacy of chant and sacred music to move the heart and raise them up to and enter into the intimate of the life of God! Knowing this full well, John Paul II observed that, and it is true today as always, three characteristics distinguish Sacred Liturgical Music: the “sanctity”, “true art” and “universality”, ie that it can be proposed to anyone or type of assembly. (Cfr. "Mosso dal vivo desiderio" of November 22, 2003.) Precisely for this reason, the Ecclesiastical Authority must commit itself to wisely guide the development of such a exigent genre of music, not freezing the treasure, but searching to combine the legacy of the past with the worthy novelties of the present, to achieve a synthesis worthy of its exalted mission in Divine service. I am certain the that Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, in harmonious symphony with the Congregation of the Divine Worship, will not fail to offer its contribution for an “updating” appropriate to our times of the precious traditions abundant in Sacred Music. To you, therefore, dearest professors and students of this Pontifical Institute, I entrust this exigent and exciting assignment, with the knowledge that it is of great relevance for the very life of the Church.
In invoking upon you the maternal protection of Our Lady of the Magnificat and the intercessions of St Gregory the Great and Saint Cecilia; I assure you that I will consistently remember you in my prayers. While I hope that the new academic year, which is about to begin, will be full of every grace, to all I impart from my heart a special Apostolic Blessing.