A new video of world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli singing “Amazing Grace” to fans in New York City’s Times Square has attracted more than one million views.
Bocelli, a Catholic, delivered his performance on March 23 as part of the official launch for the movie “The Journey: A Music Special from Andrea Bocelli,” which hits select theaters during Holy Week, April 2-9. He later shared a video of the performance on his Facebook page.
Why ‘Amazing Grace’ was chosen
His wife and executive producer of the upcoming film, Veronica Berti Bocelli, shared why “Amazing Grace” was chosen for the launch with Our Sunday Visitor.
The song “is a classic of the musical tradition worldwide, it is one of the most engaging songs of all time: a timeless prayer, composed in the 18th century but which is still able to speak to the hearts of all of us today, with unchanged intensity and emotion,” Veronica, who is also Catholic, said.
“It is the story of a conversion, it is the voice of a person who has chosen the Good,” she added. “The illuminated linearity of the melody reminds us that it is precisely by pursuing simplicity and genuineness that we can get to understand the complexity, and maybe even the meaning of our existence.”
An ancient pilgrimage
In the new film, the camera follows Bocelli and Veronica as they travel 200 miles on horseback through Italy, including portions of the Via Francigena — an ancient and historical pilgrimage route used by Christians journeying to Rome.
“Even during our pilgrimage, more than once ‘Amazing Grace’ was sung by my husband and by our guest artists,” Veronica remembered. “Among the most intense memories of the voyage, I keep the performance of this song at the abbey of San Galgano: an ancient, marvelous Tuscan church with no roof and with a very strong sacredness.”
In addition to Bocelli, the musical documentary features a blessing by Pope Francis and includes musical performances by artists such as Michael W. Smith, 2CELLOS, Tori Kelly, Clara Barbier Serrano, Tauren Wells, TAYA, 40 Fingers and Katherine Jenkins.
The moments that define us
The film’s description promises “world-class musical performances with intimate conversations across the awe-inspiring Italian countryside” in a film that is an “exploration of the moments that define us, the songs that inspire us, and the relationships that connect us to what matters most.”
Veronica described how she hopes the film will impact Christians and Catholics during Holy Week.
“Holy Easter celebrates faith in life, in the love that conquers all. And nature reminds us of it, because — if you know how to read it — resurrection is wherever you look,” she began. “I hope that our modest proposal can contribute to a reflection on the sweet mystery that we, tenants of the earth, share.”
Focusing on what’s important
She continued by emphasizing the importance of focusing on what is most important in life.
“[T]he frenetic pace of everyday life too often risks confusing our ideas, distracting us from life’s real priorities,” she said. “Andrea and I felt the need to get back into real and intense contact with nature, with silence (an element that my husband has taught me, over the years, to understand and appreciate) and with the ancient practice of praying ‘as you go.’ We have so much to learn, from everyone, and very little to teach.”
The film, she hoped, would share their experience with others.
“With this film we would like to offer our experience of faith, joyful and intense, enlivened by the beauty of music, nature, monasteries and sacred places to those who want to follow it,” she concluded. “Remembering that we are all pilgrims on earth, and that this is actually wonderful news, because, afterwards, we will all return to our Father’s house and love.”
Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.