This is more than a pious sentiment. It helps explain the numerous conversions to Christianity in Japan when conductor Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium performed a series of Bach Cantatas.
Some of the Pope’s views on music may occasionally seem too Platonic, but they are not. They are incarnational, because Logos became flesh: “Thus we come to the paradox that it can be said of Christ that ‘you are the most beautiful of all men,’ even when his face was disfigured. . . .Just in that disfigured face, the true and final beauty emerges; the beauty of love that goes to the last and shows itself stronger than lies and violence. . . .for together beauty and love form the true consolation in this world, bringing it as near as possible to the world of the resurrection.”
We should be “overpowered by the beauty of Christ,” which “is a more real and deeper perception than mere rational deduction. . . .(T)o have contempt for, or to reject therefore the shock of the heart’s encounter with beauty as the true way to perception impoverishes and makes empty faith as well as theology. We must find our way back to this way of perception – that is an urgent demand of this hour.”
Benedict XVI believes that music is the most profound medium for this encounter: “To sing with the universe means, then, to follow the track of the Logos and to come close to Him. All true human art is an assimilation to the artist, to Christ, to the mind of the Creator.”
To meet the demand of this hour, we must listen. To what? Not necessarily liturgical music.
The important thing can be found in the great secular compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner, and Mozart. There, as well, you will hear what St. Clement of Alexandria called “the New Song” of the universe, the base of all things.
When you hear it, you will know whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you belong.