In his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, Pope Francis concludes with the words: "Let us sing as we go." The Pope has taken his own words to heart, he has recently released his debut album entitled Wake Up! When Rolling Stones magazine premiered the Pope's title track (and the only one in English), "Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward," there was over a billion downloads. Not bad for a new "artist."
Producer and artistic director Don Giulio Neroni, who worked on recordings for the previous two pontiffs, told Rolling Stone he strove to be "strongly faithful" to the pastoral outreach of Francis, whom he calls "the pope of dialogue, open doors, hospitality."
Wake Up! is a diverse collection of eleven tracks containing the sacred hymns of the Christian tradition reimagined by contemporary artists and composers. Pope Francis' voice is heard through excerpts of his most significant speeches during his election set over an eclectic compilation of songs ranging from pop to rock, Latin music to Gregorian chants.
Wake Up! represents a harmonic link between tradition and modernism. In Italian, Spanish, English, and Portuguese we hear Pope Francis address universal issues such as peace, dignity, environmental protection, and aid for people most in need. With assistance from various global artists, Wake Up! is a diverse and poignant compilation.
The album's namesake "Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!" is a direct message to youth to move continuously onward in life and is set to extremely accessible electric guitar riffs, inspiring horn lines, and upbeat bass. "Cuidar El Planeta" combines classical guitar with Latin dance influences to bring to light the importance of environmentalism. Arranged with haunting choir vocals and evocative string accompaniment. "¿Por Qué Sufren Los Niños?" is a track filled with a message of empathy. The remainder of the album is as equally distinct while staying musically authentic.
Pope Francis is a forward thinking spiritual leader who has given the Catholic Church new energy. The Pontiff has millions of followers, all whom turn to him for prayers, requests, and intercession to which he responds personally and graciously. Now, this album will act as a connection between spirituality and the modern ideals by bridging faith and the common good through contemporary music.