Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chant: Sacred and Secular working to mutual benefit

There are by now hundreds of chant CDs for sale in all the usual venues, and most are quite extraordinary and highly recommended. I can't imagine that another entry into this field could cause much of a splash but yesterday's release of Chant: Music for Paradise, by the Monks of the Cistercian Abbey Stift Heligenkreuz, has caused precisely that. Amazon offers it for $46 and right now the site says that it is temporarily out of stock. [Fr. Z links to this American edition that is in stock] Arkiv is also out of stock. It does seem to be available through something called CD Wow and at a decent price.

I can't help but marvel at the promotional campaign of Msi Music, which managed to get the news of this release out to every wire service and ever major paper, announcing long before there were any sales figures that this CD was going to make these quiet and contemplative monks international stars. A risky strategy, but, indeed, it all seems to have come true. And quite frankly I can see the charm here. The monks themselves sing incredibly well. The spokesmen for the monastery are humble and authentic. You can watch a great video interview on the Amazon UK site. The music itself -- well, it will probably always remain the greatest music that exists.

The CD selections look outstanding:

1. Antiphon "In Paradisum" et Psalmus 121 (122)
2. Responsorium "Subvenite"
3. Responsorium "Libera Me"
4. Stift Heiligenkreuz Bells
5. Missa pro defunctis: Introitus "Requiem aeternam"
6. Missa pro defunctis: Kyrie
7. Missa pro defunctis: Graduale "Requiem aeternam"
8. Missa pro defunctis: Tractus "Absolve Domine"
9. Missa pro defunctis: Offertorium "Domine Iesu Christe"
10. Missa pro defunctis: Sanctus
11. Missa pro defunctis: Post Elevationem: "Pie Iesu Domine"
12. Missa pro defunctis: Agnus Dei
13. Missa pro defunctis: Communio "Lux aeterna"
14. Ad Completorium: Deus in adiutorium
15. Ad Completorium: Hymnus "Te lucis ante terminum"
16. Ad Completorium: Psalmus 4
17. Ad Completorium: Psalmus 90 (91)
18. Ad Completorium: Pslamus 133
19. Ad Completorium: Lectio brevis
20. Ad Completorium: Responsorium breve

Take a look at this video to see what we are dealing with here.

And here is a wonderful and more casual introduction to their music and work:

Can anyone doubt that this cooperation between the monastery and this CD producer has done wonderful things? The whole enterprise of work and prayer is very inspiring.

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