World Youth Day Music Extravaganza

Matt Maher was one of the musicians slated to perform at World Youth Day.


Pilgrims to World Youth Day ( had the opportunity to listen and watch 300 musical acts from countries as diverse as India, Costa Rica, South Korea, Germany, Argentina and the United States — with a special emphasis on Brazilian music.

"We want to translate the desires of young people as a whole, of the Church," said Father Renato Martins, executive director of the WYD Main Events Department, in a July 5 WYD Rio news release. "Let’s show the image of a young Church."

The official hymn of World Youth Day is called Hope of the Dawn. The lyrics include: "From the east to the west, our house is open, has no door; our land has no fences; there are no limits to our love." The chorus has Christ inviting the faithful to come to him, to be his friends and to be missionaries.

The opening Mass featured the 100 singers of "Coral Carioca JMJ" (WYD Rio Choir) from different areas of the Rio metro area. There was also a "Priests Concert," with nine Brazilian priest-singers.

The music at the WYD Stations of the Cross was influenced by Ludwig Van Beethoven — apparently Pope Francis’ favorite composer.


Diversity of Sound

Miriam Marston is the assistant director of theological programs at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization, an entity of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass. She also is an active composer and performer for piano and voice. She listened to some of the WYD artists from their links on YouTube, including Cardiac Move from Germany. Marston said she liked their sound, noting that it was not "like every pop band out there."

She said the lyrics "were not so obvious," and "the listener is actually more challenged."

Rex Band from India also caught the ear of Marston: "They were incredibly dynamic," and "there was something in the energy of their music that was particularly compelling."

The group’s name derives from the Latin phrase Christus Rex (Christ the King).

Another WYD artist, Martin Valverde from Costa Rica, has a song, Nadie Te Ama Como Yo (No One Loves You Like Me), with more than 6.3 million views on YouTube.

Another group, Ministerio Missionario Shalom ("Missionary Ministry Shalom"), which has a reggae sound, was one of the many Brazilian acts, which included the Symphonic Orchestra of Barra Mansa, Rio de Janeiro. On July 25, every region in Brazil was represented by artists of that region, including a choir of nearly 60 children singing in Guarani, an indigenous language of the country.

Slated to play July 25-26 was a popular musician to American audiences: Matt Maher. Maher took on a fundraising initiative to bring his band to Brazil.


John Paul’s Musical

Blessed John Paul II’s play The Jeweler’s Shop has been adapted into a musical called Matrimony: The Jeweler’s Shop, which was performed on July 25 as part of an accompanying Youth Festival at WYD Rio; it was free of charge to pilgrims and volunteers that day. The show ran through July 28 at the same location with an admission fee.

The musical, looking at different impressions of love through three generations of women in one family, should be a relevant connection to Blessed John Paul II, who started World Youth Day in 1984.

"The show talks about complicity, partnership, generosity, honesty in relationships and in love," said the artistic director and designer of the show, Roberto Lage, in a WYD Rio news release.


Building Tomorrow

On July 27, the "Show of Tomorrow" kicked off for a full day of music and testimony, with a break for prayer with the Holy Father at a vigil.

Testimonies from pilgrims and volunteers before the concerts addressed the topics of love, hope, marriage, the future and faith, as did video recordings from young people.

Though Miriam Marston did not attend WYD Rio, she said the music points to the "universal nature of the Church" and that having artists "from all over the world is key to understanding how broad the mission field is."

Justin Bell writes from the

Boston area.