For the second year in a row the Sistine Chapel Choir has recorded an album inside the chapel of its namesake, this year selecting pieces by Palestrina that focus on mercy in honor of the Jubilee.
Created in partnership with the classical music label Deutsche
Grammophon, the second album was released Oct. 7 and is titled
“Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli/Motets.”
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, who lived from 1525-1594, is an
Italian Renaissance sacred music composer, and is perhaps one of the
most well-known composers of sacred polyphony.
His most famous piece and the only one of his compositions dedicated
to a Pope is his “Missa Papae Marcelli,” which takes up the first five
of the 14-track CD.
It contains the music of the original printed edition of the Mass in
1567, as well as two previously unpublished motets, “Veritas mea et
misericordia mea” and “Iubilate Deo.”
The CD was presented Oct. 7 inside the Vatican's Press Office by the
Prefect of the Pontifical Household Archbishop Georg Ganswein, as well
as Clemens Trautmann, president of Deutsche Grammophon.
In his speech for the event, Archbishop Ganswein said the CD and
accompanying booklet make one immediately aware of “the spiritual
reasons for a music so refined and sublime.”
With this Mass Palestrina, “the prince of Roman polyphony” both tried
and succeeded “to respond to what the Council of Trent asked of
liturgical music, that is, the intelligibility of the text united to the
quality of the music,” he said.
Though Pope Marcellus II would never live to hear the Mass composed
in his name, having died after only 22 days as Pope in the middle of the
Council of Trent, his hope that music would be both “a vehicle of
beauty and a help in the elevation of the soul in liturgical prayer
without falling into self-reference,” would be accomplished by
Palestrina, the archbishop continued.
This challenge, he said, “remains relevant even today” in the effort
to compose music that both incorporates and respects the ancient roots
of sacred music, yet also experiments with “new ways of updating”
encouraged by the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council.
“So the purpose of this, which is presented and is a cultural
undertaking,” contributes in the communication of “the essence of the
mission of the Catholic Church, which is to evangelize, to announce the
Good News,” Archbishop Ganswein said, noting that this is also done
“All of this seeks to express that Church which goes out, of which
Pope Francis speaks to us, a Church that isn't afraid to speak the
language of man and of his needs, of which music is a high and universal
Also present at the presentation of the CD was Massimo Palombella,
director of the Sistine Chapel Choir. Formed of 20 adults and 30 young
boys, the Sistine Chapel Choir is the oldest choir in the world.
Palombella told journalists that the choir, having released their
first CD “Cantate Domino” last year, will record one annually, always
from inside the Sistine Chapel itself.
Proceeds from the CDs sold will,
as last year, be given to the papal charities.