I Don’t Know
First let me say I don’t know. Only God knows, and He doesn’t make it the most obvious, as is His Way. I just know I’m intrigued by the man, his apparent faith and life lived in his community, and with His God. I tried very hard to search the web and discover who picked the powerful music for the Easter 2020 “Songs of Hope” Bocelli sang to millions that day live, and many more millions since via YouTube. Apparently he did.
It started with a prayer written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century put to music, asking that the Bread of Heaven (figurative of Jesus the Son of God — our sustenance and power for living) Who Is “the end of all Symbols” Most Highly Exalted, the promised One — come help us on earth, we who are “poor and needy.”
There followed two songs praising Mary, the Mother of God, for responding to God’s messenger angel, “Be it unto me as you have said.” Accepting God’s offer of divine life to be birthed within her, as mysterious as it mush have seemed to her, and to us still.
There is within these two songs, a prayer to Mary, not dead, but living in heaven, that she would pray for us in this time of our very real need.
His fourth song with 4th century lyrics was a powerful anthem of praise and acknowledgment, of worship, to God the King of the Universe and His son Jesus.
“O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
O Lord the only-begotten Son,
The only-begotten, Jesus Christ!”
It ended with “Amazing Grace.” A humble acknowledgement that it’s in Him (by and in His grace) that “we live, and move, and have our being” as Paul told the first century stoic philosophers and men of Athens on Mars Hill (Acts 17). And it’s only by His grace that we behold God and know Him, “see” Him, as the African slave trader and ships captain, John Newton, discovered after almost destroying himself and others — then coming to faith and going on the write this song in England about the time of our Civil War in the U.S.. It’s one of the most telling, insightful, powerfully-true songs of all times. It is a fitting ending to humbly bow and acknowledge how needy we are and how gracious He Is. The ending says it’s only by His Grace we see. Amen.
Snippets from Wikipedia
“Doctors had advised the couple [Bocelli’s parents] to abort him, as they predicted that the child would be born with a disability. It was evident at birth that Bocelli had numerous problems with his sight, and he was eventually diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. He has stated that his mother’s decision to give birth to him and overrule the doctor’s advice was the inspiration for him to oppose abortion”
“Bocelli grew up on his family’s farm where they sold farm machinery and made wine in the small village of La Sterza, Tuscany, Italy, about 25 miles south of Pisa.”
“Bocelli showed a great passion for music as a young boy. His mother has said that music was the only thing that would comfort him. He started piano lessons at age 6 and later learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and drums.”
“At age 12, Bocelli lost his sight completely following an accident during an association football game. He was hit in the eye playing goalkeeper during a match and suffered a brain hemorrhage. Doctors resorted to leeches in a last-ditch effort to save his sight, but they were unsuccessful and he remained blind.”
“Since 1982, Bocelli has recorded 15 solo studio albums of both pop and classical music, … selling over 90 million records worldwide. His first compilation album, Romanza, is one of the best-selling albums of all time, while Sacred Arias is the biggest selling classical album by any solo artist in history.”
“In 1998, Bocelli was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People.”The Prayer” is his duet with Celine Dion for the animated film Quest for Camelot which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.”
“Celine Dion has said that “if God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli”, and record producer David Foster has often described Bocelli’s voice as the most beautiful in the world”
In other places I’ve read he was first married ten years with two sons, and since married several years with one daughter. In spite of a normal life in many respects and a good deal of suffering, or because of it, he apparently has a heart of sincere love for people and for God. Although a somewhat reclusive, multi-millionaire, his wife mentioned that he visits local nursing homes and sings for the residents. Telling, isn’t it?
In His Own Words
Bocelli said: “I will cherish the emotion of this unprecedented and profound experience, of this Holy Easter which this emergency has made painful, but at the same time even more fruitful, one that will stay among my dearest memories of all time. That feeling of being at the same time alone – as we all are in the presence of the Most High – yet of expressing the voice of the prayer of millions of voices, has deeply impressed and moved me. Love is a gift. Making it flow is the primary purpose of life itself. And I find myself once again indebted to life. My gratitude goes to all those who made this possible, the City of Milan and the Duomo, and to all those who accepted the invitation and joined in a planetary embrace, gathering that blessing from Heaven that gives us courage, trust, optimism, in the certainty of our faith.”
In his own statement, Mayor of Milan Guiseppe Sala said, “I am happy Andrea has accepted our invitation. This year, Easter will be very different for all of us. The joyous serenity that usually comes with this day, has been greatly troubled by the pandemic we are experiencing. I am sure that the extraordinary voice of Bocelli will be the embrace we are missing these days, a strong, special hug, capable of warming the heart of Milan, Italy and the world.”
Once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Milan, Italy will mark Easter Sunday by staging a very special concert featuring Andrea Bocelli. At the city’s request, the famed opera singer will deliver a solo performance at the historic Duomo cathedral on April 12th. Though it won’t be open to the public due to the countrywide lockdown, the event — titled “Music for Hope” — will be live-streamed globally to promote a message of “love, healing, and hope to Italy and the world.”
Bocelli will be joined by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who will be playing one of the world’s largest pipe organs. The Easter Sunday concert will consist of “carefully selected pieces, specially arranged for solo voice and organ for the occasion,” including “the well-loved Ave Maria setting by Bach/Gounod and Mascagni’s Sancta Maria – uplifting sacred music repertoire on a day symbolic of the renewal of life.”
Andrea Bocelli performed a special online concert from the Duomo cathedral in Milan this Easter Sunday (12 April 2020).
Entitled ‘Music for Hope’, Bocelli’s concert was poignantly performed without an audience and instead streamed globally via Bocelli’s YouTube channel, in light of social distancing measures in place across the globe to stem the spread of coronavirus. Bocelli was joined – at distance, of course – by cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who provided accompaniment for his chosen pieces. Selected to communicate a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the rest of the world during this difficult time, the pieces included the popular Bach/Gounod setting of ‘Ave Maria’ and Mascagni’s ‘Sancta Maria’, as well as an arrangement of John Newton’s enduring ‘Amazing Grace.’
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It is Easter this Sunday. And in Milan, the renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will be sending a message of love and hope to the world, especially Italy, which has seen more death in this pandemic than any country.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PANIS ANGELICUS”)
ANDREA BOCELLI: (Singing in non-English language).
GREENE: “Panis Angelica” (ph) is one of the songs Bocelli will be performing Sunday at the Milan Cathedral, which is known as the Duomo.
BOCELLI: Many times, I’ve performed this piece also in front of the pope, for example. It’s a beautiful page of music.
GREENE: On Sunday, there will be no audience because of the pandemic, just Bocelli and his organist in the empty cathedral. He’ll livestream this concert on his YouTube channel for free. Bocelli joined me from his home outside Milan, where he and his family have been staying put, mostly. He says he knows how many Italians have been suffering through this. And he feels fortunate.
BOCELLI: For us – it’s very bad to say this, but I dreamed throughout my life to have a period to rest myself, to stay with my family, to speak with my sons, and I had. But anyway, I am privileged because I’m in my house with my families. And I’m – everything’s OK here.
GREENE: He was speaking to me along with his wife, Veronica. And as we were setting up, I could hear the tinkling of their piano. I mean, the idea of Andrea Bocelli playing for us in a moment like we’re in was a wonderful thought. Though, we were warned not to get our hopes up.
Who’s playing the piano?
BOCELLI: Me (laughter). It’s me.
GREENE: Yeah? Have you been playing a lot of piano during – while you’ve been home?
BOCELLI: Yes, yes. Many times during the day, I go to play the piano because it my first…
VERONICA BERTI: Hobby.
BOCELLI: Hobby (laughter).
BERTI: …And work. Work and hobby both go together.
GREENE: That’s great. Well, I want to hear about Easter Sunday. Andrea, you – the mayor of Milan invited you to do this show.
GREENE: Why did you decide to accept the invitation?
BOCELLI: Because I think that, in this moment, music can help. And in this moment, I think it’s very important to do our best to create positivity among the people. My idea – my will will be to help people don’t lose the hope.
GREENE: Well, I know the Duomo in Milan and the square would normally be very crowded on Easter Sunday. Is it going to be strange to be there and performing with almost no one else there?
BOCELLI: No. It’s not strange because this is not a concert. Basically, this is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening my singing can pray with me.
“This is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening … can pray with me.”
Sounds to me like someone who sees…. Amen?
Lord have mercy on our straying nation and world. Show us our blindness — help us see. Amaze us again, please, by your grace. Amen.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” II Chron 16:9
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7
Beautiful, sincere, and recorded previously in NYC — “The Prayer”