Music for a new Pope: Spotify's "Songs for the Conclave"

Spotify, U. of Notre Dame Prof, create virtual album to commemorate historic event. Photo: public domain

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 – As many believers and readers are already aware, Pope Benedict XVI has resigned from the Papacy—the first Pope in some 600 years to have done so. Later this month, the traditional Papal Conclave—the traditional gathering during which Cardinals from around the world will gather to select the next Pope—will meet in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, not to adjourn until the next Successor to St. Peter, and spiritual head of over one billion Catholics has been chosen. 

To honor this historic occasion, Spotify, the online digital music service, partnered with Tim O’Malley, the Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Liturgy and Concurrent Professor, Department of Theology; and Carolyn Pirtle, the Assistant Director of Notre Dame’s Center for Liturgy to create a playlist of hymns and choral music, choosing selections from the current Spotify catalog. 

In a recent news release announcing this special playlist—entitled “Songs for the Conclave”— Spotify provided Dr. O’Malley’s comment on these musical selections.

“The playlist,” he notes, “consists of motifs central to the Catholic imagination relative to the election of a Pope. It focuses upon certain themes, including the Church’s asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit during this time of transition; the Church’s crying out to God for mercy that we might be found worthy to receive a successor of Peter, who unites the Church in love; and praise for the God, who guides the Church through the twists and turns of history. The playlist is intended to give the listener a disposition of wonder, of contemplation, of prayer to the God who first loved us.”

The news release also provided the full list of tracks, which we reproduce below:  

Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina – Tu es Petrus: Tu es Petrus
Maurice Duruflé – Tu es Petrus: Tu es Petrus
Maurice Duruflé – Ubi caritas
Holst, Gustav – Holst: Nunc Dimittis - Nunc Dimittis
Charles Villiers Stanford – Beati quorum via, from Three Motets, Op. 38
William Byrd – Byrd: Sing Joyfully
Jörg Halubek – Lux aeterna: O Nata Lux
James MacMillan – The Lamb has come for us from the House of David
Thomas Tallis – O Lord, give thy holy spirit
Britten Singers – 2 Psalms: Psalm 148, “Lord, Who hast made us for thine own”
Francis Bardot – Veni Sancte Spiritus, K. 47 - Allegro
The Choir Of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge – O Thou Sweetest Source
The Sixteen and Harry Christophers – Veni creator spiritus (à 4)
The Collegeville Composers Group – Pentecost Sequence: Holy Spirit, Lord of Light
Antony Pitts – The Hymnes and Songs of the Church (arr. A. Pitts): No. 44. Veni Creator: Come Holy Ghost
The Choir Of Trinity College, Cambridge – Come down, O love divine
Tomás Luis de Victoria – Salve Regina a 8
Tenebrae – Miserere
Nashville Chamber Orchestra – Appalachian Spring: Suite
London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) – The Lark Ascending
London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) – Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’ Op. 36: IX.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Firebird Suite
Chanticleer – Tallis: If Ye Love Me
John Rutter – Love divine, all loves excelling 

This writer, a former church choral music director and conductor, is familiar with many of these selections. A great many carry with them the appropriate religious significance or mood. Others, while not directly pertaining to theological or spiritual content, are almost whimsically appropriate, as with the intentional association of the Holy Spirit with Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite

Taken as an organic whole, these interesting, themed selections are in many respects a better, more ethereal, more artistic way of approaching this key event in 21st Century Catholicism as opposed to the breathless horse-race celebrity-style reporting we’re likely to be reading over the coming month. 

To access the tracks in this Spotify playlist, simply click on the appropriate tracks below, scrolling down to access additional tracks.

Alternatively, if you already have Spotify on your computer, simply click the following link to begin playback of Dr. O’Malley’s selected tracks: 

Conclave:  Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame 

To download Spotify, click this link:

The Spotify service is currently available in 20 countries: USA, UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Portugal, The Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, Australia and New Zealand, with more than 20 million active users, and over 5 million paying subscribers. 


Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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