It was performed for Pope Benedict and a private audience at the Vatican by the Irish Radio and Television Orchestra and the Dublin Cathedral Choir.
The lengthy performance climaxed when the Pope and the audience stood during the famous “Hallelujah” rendition. It’s a sign of respect that dates back hundreds of years, when King George II of England made the same gesture the first time he heard the piece being performed.
At the end of the concert, Benedict gave a word of thanks to the performers, and highlighted the piece as a form of art where music and faith come together.
Once again it seems clear that music and song, thanks to their skilful intertwining with faith, can be of high educational value in religion. Music as art can be a particularly great way to announce Christ, so that can make visible the mystery with his eloquence.
Benedict also spoke about the importance of Vatican City State’s autonomy and its establishment back in 1929, highlighting the 80th anniversary’s theme, ‘Small territory for a great mission.’