The Church’s celebration of Pope Benedict XVI’s 80th birthday concluded yesterday with a concert in his honor. The Holy Father thanked the various performers and those present and thanked God for the gift of music. Music, the Pope said helps us praise God, who is “the ultimate source” of the Good and the Beautiful.
The concert, which was held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, was given by the Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) of Stuttgart, Germany. The orchestra, directed by the Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, played pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli (1554/57-1612), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904).
At the end of the concert, the Pope thanked the conductor and musicians, expressing his conviction that music “truly is the universal language of beauty, capable of uniting men and women of good will all over the world, bringing them to raise their gaze to the Heights and aspire to absolute Good and Beauty, the ultimate source of which is God Himself.”
“In looking back over my own life,” he added, “I thank God for having given me music which, almost as a traveling companion, has always brought me comfort and joy.”
The Holy Father also expressed his gratitude "to the people who, from the earliest years of my infancy, introduced me to this source of inspiration and serenity. I thank those who unite music and prayer in harmonious praise of God and His works. They help us to glorify the Creator and Redeemer of the world.”
“This is my desire,” he concluded, “that the greatness and beauty of music may also give you, dear friends, a new and continual inspiration to build a world of love, solidarity and peace.”
After the concert, those present sang "Happy Birthday" to the Pope in Italian and German.