Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The sound of eternity

In advance of the American release of Stift Heiligenkreuz's "Music for the Soul," the New York Times offers this interesting article, which takes for granted that chant sounds like eternity. If it is so obvious, one wonders why it continues to be a controversial proposition that chant should be integral to Catholic worship.

HEILIGENKREUZ, Austria — As noon draws near, the monks glide into the church, their white cowls billowing behind them. They line up in silence, facing each other in long choir stalls. Wood carvings of saints peer down on them from the austere Romanesque nave.

Bells peal and the chant begins — low at first, then swelling as all the monks join in. Their soft voices wash over the ancient stones, replacing the empty clatter of the day with something like the sound of eternity.

Except, that is, for the clicks of a camera held by a photographer lurking behind a stone pillar.

It has been like this since last spring, when word got out that the Cistercian monks of the Stift Heiligenkreuz, deep in the Vienna woods, had been signed by Universal Music to record an album of Gregorian chants.

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