Fr. Robert Lebel has released 20 albums, his latest to benefit persecuted Christians around the world. Photo courtesy of Fr. Robert Lebel

Quebec priest hits right note in aid of persecuted Christians

By  Alan Hustak, Catholic Register Special
  • January 29, 2017

MONTREAL – A Quebec priest best known in English Canada for composing the anthem for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, has released the second edition of a CD to draw attention to the plight of Christians who are being persecuted for their faith.

Fr. Robert Lebel, known primarily in Quebec and parts of Europe for his devotional songs, has compiled 12 of those French-language songs to raise money for the Canadian branch of Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity that gives aid to repressed and persecuted Christians. The first edition of the album, called Consolez mon peuple (Console my people), sold out.

According to the Centre for Studies on New Religions, more than 90,000 Christians, most of them in Africa, were killed for their faith in 2016 and millions more, largely in the Middle East, were displaced.

“The music was written to nourish the human spirit,” said Lebel, who makes his home in Thetford Mines, 240 kilometres east of Montreal. “I was deeply moved by this project.

“The lyrics of the songs chosen address those who suffer in the name of Christ, and serve to remind us that Christ is with us and gives us the courage and the strength to make a difference and change things.”

Lebel believes music can unite people, “no matter what language we sing.”

“It is a shared emotional experience no matter what our culture or language,” he said.

Every church choir in Quebec has a few of Lebel’s songs in its repertoire and a number of his songs are used during liturgical services. He often goes on concert tours, and he has a following among French-speaking congregations across Canada.

Lebel is perhaps best known in English Canada for “You Are The Light of the World,” the anthem he composed for World Youth Day in 2002.

Lebel, 66, started writing poetry when he was 13 and growing up in Richmond, Que. He was a folk singer before he joined the Assumptionists and was ordained to the priesthood in 1976.

His first album of singable melodies, Printemps de dieu (God’s Springtime), was recorded in 1979, followed by Peuple de pèlerins. He has recorded more than 20 albums, selling about 150,000 total copies.

Lebel says he has been inspired to continue writing by Pope Francis, who recently encouraged musicians and artists to “be custodians of beauty” and create works that have the capacity to move the soul.

Consolez mon peuple is available for a suggested donation of $20 from Aid to the Church in Need (acn-aed-ca.org) or from www.robertlebel.com.

Aid to the Church in Need was founded in 1947 to address the post-war material and spiritual needs of Germany, later expanding to countries around the world where Christians are suffering.

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