Sojourn, the Pope, and Artistic Excellence

It seems fitting on the same day that Sojourn Music releases it’s latest album, a Christmas project called A Child is Born, that Peter Leithart shares this word from the late Pope John Paul II:

“Today, as yesterday, musicians, composers, liturgical chapel cantors, church organists and instrumentalists must feel the necessity of serious and rigorous professional training. They should be especially conscious of the fact that each of their creations or interpretations cannot escape the requirement of being a work that is inspired, appropriate and attentive to aesthetic dignity, transformed into a prayer of worship when, in the course of the liturgy, it expresses the mystery of faith in sound.”

I was in a conversation recently about what constitutes art. I would propose that beauty, creativity, and actual talent and skill are all values of good art. The ability to create order out of chaos and to do it with an expression that shows a talent for the medium and a practiced and honed skill is truly a God-exalting gift to the world. Church worship leaders and musicians have an important role. While their excellence should never be the center of worship, it does assist in either pointing more fully toward the throne of Christ or distracting from it. I appreciate our musicians, songwriters, and worship leaders at Sojourn who time and time again have pointing me toward the glory of God and to Christ’s coming kingdom which will ring with full beauty. After one listen-through, this is so far not my favorite Sojourn album, but it is once again an example of a collection of artists using their skill, talent, and creativity to point to Christ through beautiful songwriting and performances.

(Illustration: Juan Gris, Violin and Guitar)