On Friday, the whole world mourned for the victims of the brutal coordinated terrorist attack on Paris. The hashtag #PrayForParis circulated on social media, in a slight effort to describe and express the grief so many people felt. Despite its polarizing nature, the instinct to pray for Paris was echoed by Madonna, during her Stockholm show on Saturday night.
How do we sensitively express shock, grief, fear, sympathy, and solidarity? For Madonna, that way was to give a stripped-down performance of “Like A Prayer,” and to give an emotional speech about celebrating life, even as we mourn those who died.
Madonna prefaced her performance of the song with some thoughts about why the crowd was assembled together, having fun, while the rest of the world was in mourning. She said she was going to cancel the show, before having decided against it as a form of protest.
“It’s been very hard for me to get through this show up to this point. So I need to take this moment to acknowledge the tragedy, the tragic killings, assassinations, and the senseless endings of precious life that occurred last night in Paris. Why am I up here dancing and having fun when people are crying over the loss of their loved ones?”
Madonna broke down during this speech, as tears filled her eyes at the thought of so much senseless and brutal loss of life. But even though the terror attacks could not be ignored at the venue, Madonna asserted that to cancel the show would be satisfying to the terrorists.
“That is exactly what these people want to do. They want to shut us up. They want to silence us. And we won’t let them. We will never let them! Because there is power in unity and I do believe that as much chaos and pain and senseless violence and terrorism that occurs around this world—not just in Paris—as much as that does occur, there is more goodness in this world. We are here to prove it.”
She continued through her tears, asking the audience for a moment of silence to honor the victims and to reflect on the state of the world.
“Before we do go one, I would like to have a moment of silence . . . say a prayer for the victims who died last night in Paris and for the families of those victims. So, here’s what I know how to do . . . I hope that you will all join me and we will sing this prayer together.”
Madonna then launched into what began as an acoustic version of her now-classic song “Like A Prayer,” echoing the sentiments of millions around the world who sent their prayers to Paris and expressed their grief through social media.
Watch the speech and performance below: