Music the universal language @ WYD

29 Jul 2008

By The Record

SYDNEY ( – Over 150,000 pilgrims were treated to a feast of music and praise with a line-up of popular artists after the Opening Mass on July 15.

Pilgrims enjoy a concert by US band Scythian at a World Youth Day concert on July 16. The band from the Washington, DC, area specialises in high-energy Celtic music. Band members pictured on stage are Josef Crosby and brothers Alexander and Danylo Fedoryka. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

The acts included first-rate artists such as Tap Dogs, Fire Dancers, The Australian Girls Choir, and nationally acclaimed singers of the official WYD theme song, Guy Sebastian, Gary Pinto and Paulini Curuenavuli.  
It ended with a spectacular display of fireworks which shimmered off the harbour, adding extra shine to the already smiling faces.
Organisers of WYD insisted that contemporary music with a Catholic flavour was playing a key role in conveying the messages WYD sought to present.
Tongan-Australian singer, Paulini, who performed with her band, identified why this is the case.
“Music is something that everyone loves and it brings them together,” she told ZENIT.
Composers of the official theme song of WYD agreed. Guy Sebastian and Gary Pinto told ZENIT before the piece what an honour it was to witness the potency of the Gospel when presented in song.
Sebastian, past winner of Australian Idol, hoped that the song “will further help to cement the message of this amazing event into people’s hearts” and that “through singing ‘Alleluia, receive the power,’ the youth will know that it is not through our own talents that we do this, but by the power of God. … Nothing is impossible to his Holy Spirit.”
Pinto extended an encouraging hand to all young Catholic musicians and artists consistent with the call of John Paul II in his Letter to Artists (1999), saying that as musicians “we are in the vocational service of beauty. What greater beauty to be presenting to people than that of God? It’s so humbling and spiritually rewarding to be able to give the gifts he gave us back to him.”
And other groups have stepped up to the call in turn – not just the big names. Another group the Emmanuel Worship band is a group of musicians from Brisbane, Queensland, who performed their pieces in a special Queensland gathering during WYD and are providing music ministry for a youth meeting – whether it be highly liturgical or punk rock. The troupe has been involved in spreading the World Youth Day message around Australia, via the animation of a series of events with the cross and icon journey.
Patrick Keady, keyboardist and composer in the Emmanuel Worship group, told me: “In music ministry, what we are trying to do is communicate an age-old message, which has seemed dead, but it’s not; it is fresh, alive and vibrant.
“Music is a universal language that everyone gets. When you speak this language, it helps the transition from an old generation to a new generation who need to rise up and take their place in history. And it does it in a way that they understand.”
As Christian bands producing a similar sound to that of popular culture, they seek to take advantage of particular styles of music to help others experience Jesus.
“The beginning point definitely has to be a personal relationship with Jesus,” said 23-year-old Bernard Drumm, guitarist from another performance group – Mass Revival.
These two Christian bands, as Catholics, also try to allow people to see another face of Catholicism.
“A lot of young Catholics have been brought up with many misconceptions about the Church and its teachings,” said Drumm, a seminarian.
“They think that it’s something from yesterday that doesn’t relate to today.”
“As Catholics,” he continued, “we seem to spend a lot of time defending our beliefs and trying to explain ourselves into oblivion … rather than just allowing the joy we find in it to inspire the core of the hearts of others so they may begin their own search for that Truth which is the source of our joy.”
The drummer for the Mass Revival band, Michael Campbell, said that “the sense of sharing that music provides is representative of what’s here at World Youth Day when you have so many people from different cultures and languages coming together, singing and dancing in the Lord.”
Lead singer of Mass Revival, Daniel Foster, added: “World Youth Day shows you are part of a huge Church and that this is an event showing that we are one Church holding an event for our young people in Australia, and even non-Catholics will see that this is really something.
“So as each of us musicians and artists use our gifts in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, in God’s name and for his sake, we pray that he use us to assist in refreshing and reviving our Church here in this great southland and across the world.”