When Pope Francis took up the mantle of pope, he championed the poor and Joe Zambon heeded the call.
Joe Zambon is a Catholic musical artist who brings his faith to his craft in humble, easily accessible terms. We’ve featured him on Aleteia before, for his wonderful song “Jesus, I Love You,” released for Holy Week, 2015. Now we’ve taken note of another older piece he wrote that was too pretty to pass by.
Zambon released this beautiful prayer, “Remember the Poor,” on his 2014 album Brothers. The tune is minimalist in form, utilizing a solitary piano accompaniment of block chords as the artist layers vocal lines to create a solemn setting for the simple, faithful plea, “May I never forget the poor, for I am poor.” Lyrically, it is very repetitive and almost chant-like.
In an explanation video that he released along with Brothers, Zambon reveals that the tune was inspired by Pope Francis’ election to the papacy. He told his fans:
“When [Pope Francis] was in the conclave and he reached the number of ballots that would mean he would be the next pope, one of his Brother Cardinals leaned in to him and said, ‘remember the poor’ … So all this talk about the poor started making me reflect and it made me think about how the poor are there to remind us of our identity. We are all poor beggars for God, in need of him. This is why Jesus says, ‘The poor will always be with you.’… “The thing I think that is also equally important and the reason we are to remember the poor is, as [Father] Henry Nouwen, says we are to become like the father in the Prodigal Son story, where we embrace, welcome, and give to those who are in need. This way we share the heart of God, who is Love itself.”
Zambon’s catalogue of music ranges from the deeply spiritual to exciting fun. In 2017, he took his folk style and flipped the script with a pop-infused love song about the importance of patience, in the song “O Little While.” The music video he made for it is particularly charming and brought together all his friends and family for the interesting visuals.