When you hear a song on your phone or on the radio, how often do you stop and pray for the people who made that music? Do you ever wonder what pains and prayers are on their hearts that day? Do you ask for God’s grace to be with them as they navigate the difficult path they’ve chosen?
The Beauties and the Dangers of Working in Music
Music has the power to break our hearts and make them whole again. It can uplift us, strengthen us, and transform our attitudes and ways of seeing the world. Songs can stick with us for a lifetime, bring us together, and hold powerful meaning in our lives. Music can also help us reach out to God in prayer, expressing the deepest yearnings of our hearts or spurring us to intercede for others. It is one of the most powerful forms of media that God has given us, a way to touch heaven. In fact, the Bible often uses images of singing and playing musical instruments to illustrate what heaven will be like, and the famous line, “he who sings prays twice,” is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1156).
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That being said, it isn’t easy to have a career as a professional musician. We hear plenty of stories of music celebrities and their scandals and breakdowns. Forced to deal with the constant pressures of fame and the music industry, how many artists have died from suicide or drug overdose? Even those who make an effort to resist the toxic currents in that culture still make huge sacrifices of time and being away from their families in order to produce new music and go on tour. It can be taxing for them to put their most personal thoughts and feelings into music and then watch people tear their creations apart through mean-spirited criticism on social media and elsewhere. The push to always be popular and relevant can take its toll in more ways than one--and that’s just for those who make it big! Think about all the aspiring musicians who struggle to make a living or the artists who dedicate their time at the local level, not to mention all the workers in the music industry who have the less glamorous, behind-the-scenes jobs to produce music and make it available on a large scale.
Praying for those in the music industry, and particularly for the musicians that we listen to, is a powerful way to give something back to the artists who have made such a deep impression on us. We may never meet them in person, but we can intercede for them before God, and this has a very real effect on their lives. God never leaves any prayer unanswered.
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How to Pray the Saint Cecilia Rosary
One of my favorite ways to pray for those who work in the music industry is through something I call the Saint Cecilia Rosary. Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians, so she understands their pains and struggles better than most. Praying a rosary under her patronage unites her prayers with the Blessed Mother’s for those who have given their lives to share their gift of music with others.
Praying a Saint Cecilia Rosary is simple (and not all that different from a normal rosary). Here’s a quick guide:
- Choose a set of mysteries. I usually pray the Joyful Mysteries because they are full of song (the Canticle of Mary during the Visitation, the angels singing at the Nativity of Jesus, and the Canticle of Simeon during the Presentation in the Temple), but you could also choose the mysteries for that day or whichever ones the Lord places on your heart.
- Pray the introductory prayers as usual (the Creed, Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, and Glory Be).
- Before each decade, pray the Our Father for those who work in the music industry, particularly for those who are unable to recognize God as their father.
- For each 10 beads of the decades, call to mind a different musician, band, or artist and offer that Hail Mary for them. I usually choose one per bead, but if you feel that a certain person needs extra prayer, you could dedicate as many beads to them as you feel is necessary.
- At the end of the decade, pray the Glory Be in thanksgiving for the good that God has done through those artists and the positive effects their music has had on others. Then pray the “O My Jesus…” prayer in reparation for any harm or evil that may have been done through the influence of those artists.
- At the end of the rosary, say the Hail Holy Queen to entrust each of them to the Blessed Mother’s loving care. Then say your favorite prayer to Saint Cecilia, or simply, “Saint Cecilia, patron of musicians, pray for us.” Here is a short prayer to Saint Cecilia that you could use:
Saint Cecilia, intercede for all musicians and those working in the music industry. Help them to remain true to themselves and the creative gifts God has given them. May their music help others and do much good in this world, and, one day, may they join the eternal chorus in heaven forever. Amen.
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“But I can’t think of 50 bands...”
Praying for 50 different musicians might seem like a lot, but there are a lot to choose from. You could pray for your favorite artists or for the ones that drive you crazy. Pray for those that are in the news, or whose songs you don’t listen to because you disagree with the messages. I always make a point to pray for musicians who are already deceased, especially if their deaths were sudden or tragic. Think of the music that has been more significant to you throughout your life, the songs that have touched your heart or always get stuck in your head. Pray for Christian artists and secular artists, local musicians or the most famous bands. You could include singers and instrumentalists, choirs and orchestras. Pray for the musicians at your church, your music teachers, the aspiring artists you know. Pray for record companies and music stores and everyone who works behind the scenes of making music. There are so many genres of music out there, and so many people who devote their lives to bringing music to others. The Holy Spirit will help you choose which ones to pray for—and you could always say a second rosary if you can’t fit them all into one!
If music just isn’t your thing or you’re having trouble thinking of that many artists, you could also pray for those in the entertainment industry more generally. Add in actors, social media influencers, video game developers, or whoever else the Lord inspires you to bring to Him that day. Saint Genesius is the patron saint of actors; I don’t believe there is an official patron of video games yet, but Blessed Carlo Acutis was a video gamer and Blessed James Alberione is a good intercessor for all forms of modern media. Feel free to ask for their intercession as you personalize your rosary for the types of media you engage with most often.
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Bringing Our Media Culture to Jesus
Praying for those who work in the media is an important role for us as Christians today. We are each called to participate in our culture and let the Gospel penetrate it however we can. But we don’t just bring Jesus to our media culture. We also have to bring our media culture to Jesus through prayer. The simple act of praying a rosary on behalf of people who work in the music industry can be a huge source of grace for those artists who hold such great power and responsibility in our world today.
Our guest blogger is Sr. Allison Gliot (@sister_allison), a novice with the Daughters of St Paul. She is from Falls Church, Virginia, and has a degree in Theology and Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America. Saint Cecilia is her patron saint.