In April of 1964, Paul VI addressed a plenary assembly of Italian bishops. Below are a few excerpts from his remarks.
The first point clearly is religion in life. This must be our dominant interest, taking precedence over every merely civil issue, however relevant, of our nation’s life. “Seek first the kingdom of God.” The liturgical reform provides us with an excellent opportunity in this regard: it calls us back to the theological view of human destiny that the action of grace, and thus of the life of the sacraments and prayer, has primacy. The liturgical reform opens up to us a way to reeducate our people in their religion, to purify and revitalize their forms of worship and devotion, to restore dignity, beauty, simplicity, and good taste to our religious ceremonies.
Without such inward and outward renewal there can be little hope for any widespread survival of religious living in today’s changed conditions. We take it on ourself to make but two pertinent recommendations. The first is that you take the greatest pains over the sanctifying of days of precept, devoting all your energies to the end that the celebration of the Sunday and holyday Mass with the word of God and the participation of the people will be an occasion of the most intense involvement for all.
The second is that you promote sacred song, the religious, congregational singing of the people. Remember, if the faithful sing they do not leave the Church; if they do not leave the Church, they keep the faith and live as Christians.