The Glorious Chant of "Angels and Saints at
Ephesus" | Christopher S. Morrissey | Catholic World Report
A beautiful new album from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, helps us make room in our lives for truth.
Everybody likes singing Sisters. I remember as a child hearing the music that my mother liked to play. They were vinyl records and sometimes my memory can still recreate the voices of those women religious.
Today the delivery method has changed. Direct digital downloads are now possible. Recently, some liturgical chants have been finding their way out from the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus and into the world by way of the digital path.
The Sisters there live a life of union with God in prayer according to the Rule of St. Benedict. They have a love for the traditional liturgy and devote themselves in a special way to prayerfully interceding for the sacred priesthood and to making vestments and altar linens. Founded in 1995, this young, monastic order of Sisters sings together eight times a day, chanting the Divine Office in Latin.
Their previous album with De Montfort Music and Decca Records, Advent at Ephesus, was a big hit last year. This week, their new album, Angels and Saints at Ephesus, is released. It contains a nice selection of hymns and chants from various liturgical occasions.
Nine-time International Grammy-winning producer Christopher Alder (from Germany) and two-time Grammy-winning engineer Mark Donahue worked together to capture the sound of the Sisters in their contemplative environment. Because the music comes forth from the genuine liturgical life lived by the Sisters, it has an authenticity and purity that gives it a special charm.
I think that if we make a deliberate effort to integrate this sort of music into our own daily practices, we can, when we listen to it, create a space in our lives that helps us replace ugliness with beauty. We can thereby dwell in a place where we become better able to contemplate truth and to grow in our understanding of truth.
The reason I emphasize this link between beauty and truth is because Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, when he was still a cardinal, made a very important speech on this theme. It was called, “Wounded By the Arrow of Beauty,” and it is still available in a book from Ignatius Press.
“The encounter with beauty can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the soul and thus makes it see clearly, so that henceforth it has criteria, based on what it has experienced, and can now weigh the arguments correctly,” said then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
Beauty thus serves a great purpose. It educates our perceptions in order that we may proceed to grasp truth better. As Ratzinger explained it, beauty “brings us into contact with the power of truth.” The danger, however, is that an album such as Angels and Saints at Ephesus becomes just another commodity in the marketplace. And if we are honest, we will observe that such has often been the case with previous instances of hit records of sacred music. (Anyone remember the Gregorian chant craze from a while back?)
The problem is that people sample an exotic new thing only for a while. They enter into its spirit only in a superficial way. They soon move on to something else that becomes a newer source of distraction or excitement in their lives.