(Vatican Radio) A new album from a group of traditional Catholic priests has been sitting atop the Billboard charts for classical music for four weeks. “The Requiem,” by members of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), focuses on the traditional Gregorian chants sung at funerals in the Roman Rite.
The Fraternity is a society of apostolic life dedicated to the formation and sanctification of priests in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, and to the pastoral development of the priests in the service of the Church.
It may seem strange an album of Latin chant music, sung by priests dedicated to the ancient form of the liturgy, should achieve such wide renown. To find out more about the popularity of “The Requiem,” Vatican Radio spoke with Father Zachary Akers, a young priest of the Fraternity.
“I think people are drawn to beauty, whether it be in the Catholic Church, or even the secular world,” Fr Akers told us. “People are drawn to the transcendence of this ancient form of singing, which is the heritage of our Church, so I’m very happy to see that it’s been well received, not only in the Catholic world, but even in the secular classical music world as well.”
Father Akers also spoke about the attraction of Gregorian chant for young people. “I think young people like to be part of something that's older and bigger than themselves. You see in the college and university life that people want to be part of a fraternity or sorority that their father or grandfather was part of. And I think we see this in the liturgy as well, there’s a great hunger and desire to return to something that was held so sacred and important to our forefathers.”
He also noted the contrast with other popular forms of music. “What we’re doing,” Father Akers said, is “re-presenting this beautiful music, which is not just musical composition, but it's a prayer. And so I think it's a wonderful way to light a candle in the darkness of this world, by showing the beauty that the Church has to offer.”
Young people, he continued, “are thirsting for the truth -- and so it’s no surprise to me that we are in a culture where people are searching for more depth, and so they are drawn to give their life to God.”
“And so we pray that this album, maybe, might have some part in restoring the sense of the sacred, especially in liturgical music.”
Listen to the full interview of Father Zachary Akers, FSSP, with Devin Watkins: