During one of the first meetings with our friends, the Bonzes of Mount Koya, the heads of the largest and most ancient sect of Japanese Buddhism, the conversation
moved to song, and I asked them if they sang, if they liked to sing and what.
The eldest of them was keen to say that they sang, even Italian songs. We were all curious to know which Italian songs they meant. We always sing Neapolitan songs, they said, and one of them quoted “Torna a Surriento.” Instinctively
I asked, How is it that amongst all the songs of Italy you prefer the Neapolitan ones, and why particularly “Torna a Surriento”? The leader of the Bonzes turned to me and with his arms opened wide, said, Melancholy.
This is the word with which he unconsciously expressed what we call “religious sense.” We all recognize ourselves in that word; in this truth of mysterious
expectation we all easily recognize ourselves. The essence of the human heart is relationship with an expected happiness, whose ultimate nature and whose name is unknown to us. It is the expectation of a fulfilment to which we give a name: God.
(Excerpt from the introduction by Luigi Giussani to the booklet enclosed in the CD)