He is a liturgical traditionalist who is known to favour the Latin mass with all its ancient trimmings. But when it comes to finding a song that will appeal to young worshippers, the Pope has opted for rap.
The committee overseeing Pope Benedict’s itinerary in Britain next week announced today that they have chosen a hip-hop track to be the official “youth anthem” for his three day visit.
“Heart’s Cry”, by Catholic trio Ooberfuse, is a world away from the type of soaring hymnals usually associated with Catholic services.
The band, who all live in London, sent their track to Father Andrew Headon, a member of the Papal Visit Organising Committee which chose the song to represent young worshippers. It will almost certainly be played to the faithful during the Pope’s prayer vigil in Hyde Park, an event which is specifically aimed at appealing to younger Catholics.
Ooberfuse’s track bears a passing resemblance to Black Eyed Peas’ breakthrough single, “Where is the love?” and open with extracts of a speech by Pope Benedict proclaiming that “evil will never reign in the hearts of men again.”
Cherrie Anderson, the trio’s 24-year-old lead singer, told The Independent that her band wanted to move away from the stereotype that modern Christian bands only ever played soft rock.
“We are hoping to be more relevant and reach out to a younger generation,” she said. “We wanted to break the stereotypes surrounding religious pop music and play music that would instantly appeal to young people today.”
The band is made up of Miss Anderson, on vocals, 33-year-old rapper Hal St John and DJ Cornel Sorian.
Although evangelical Protestant and Baptist congregations have long embraced modern music as a way of reaching out to younger audiences, the Catholic Church has been far less willing to branch away from its traditional musical roots.
It wasn’t until the mid-1960s, during the Second Vatican Council, that the church finally allowed mass to be said in a language other than Latin, allowing millions of Catholics worldwide to finally understand what was being said.
Reformers have long argued that embracing modern music is vital way of adapting to younger audiences, but traditionalists are often bitterly opposed to such moves.
Mr Sorian, who was born in Romania and works as a music producer in London, said: “We hope people will break out on the dance-floor to the sound of Il Pappa gently proclaiming (with characteristic German accentuation) that ‘‘Hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again’ and that we should courageously ‘give voice to that cry’, the cry of Love treading with dove’s footsteps in the ‘mysterious and inscrutable’ depths of our hearts.”
Click here to listen to the track.