On June 2, De Montfort Music together with Decca Classics/Universal Music Classics will release BENEDICTA: Marian Chant from Norcia, the major label debut from The Monks of Norcia.
Based in Norcia, Italy, the community of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia is comprised of 18 men, half American citizens and the other half a diverse group of men from all over the world representing a variety of cultural backgrounds.
Monks and their devotional singing were not heard in Norcia for nearly 200 years, until 1998 when Fr.
Cassian Folsom, Prior, settled with his community in the monastery located on the ancient ruins of the birth-home of St. Scholastica, thus also becoming the site where The Monks of Norcia were born.
An American who was admitted to and studied at the highly competitive world-renowned voice program at Indiana University before joining the monastery, Fr.
BENEDICTA consists of songs dedicated to the life of Mary, Our Lady, including previously unrecorded chant versions of responsories and an original piece composed by the monks, "Nos Qui Christi Iugum," ("We Who Have Taken Up Christ's Yoke").
Some pieces on the album are sung by the entire group, some by smaller ensembles of monks and others by soloists, lending a vast range of sound and color to BENEDICTA. Basil Nixen serves as the music director for the project. Basil says, "The selections try to look at Our Lady's life by focusing on 7 mysteries, or defining moments, of her life and include pieces that many people would be familiar with and could connect with as well as some pieces that are a little less known and more musically challenging and complex but also very beautiful.
Many of these chants are familiar prayers that we sing often and that are very, very dear to us." Along with their offices of daily prayer, the monks work for their self-sufficiency – as Fr.
Cassian says, "We are not angels, we are men – so we have to eat." To that end, they operate a craft brewery at the monastery, Birra Nursia, where they produce a beer "pleasing to the taste and satisfying to the spirit." These blond and dark brews have gained devotees from distant countries, bringing new visitors to Norcia. Music is important to us, especially for the sake of the prayer.
"A lot of people have perhaps a romantic idea that monks sort of float around in the cloister all day long," says Fr. Even someone who listens to this without any background will be drawn to it, I think, by its pure beauty and its mystical quality.
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Cassian explains, "Music is essential to the monastic life…
chant is part of the air we breathe." For The Monks of Norcia, music is woven into a daily life of liturgy and industry.
With their daily monastic chant of the Divine Office, sung Mass and singing the prayers at table for mealtimes, the monks sing nine times per day.
As a young and ethnically diverse monastic community – the average age being 33 -- there is a youthful vitality to their adherence to the rule of St.
Benedict which is summarized by the motto "ora et labora," that is, by the alternation of work and prayer throughout the day, along with the togetherness of a community of brothers.
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In this seminar, we will be exploring this intersection between psychology and theology through a variety of sources—commentaries, liturgies, illustrated psalters and books of hours—across a variety of settings from the cloister to the home.
Final paper dealing with some aspect of psalm study (12-15 pages, double-spaced, 11 or 12 point font): Potential methodologies and themes include textual criticism, exegesis, liturgy, music, book history, iconography, political theory, social history, education, theology, poetry, contemplation, and penance (40%)., The Illustrated Psalter: Luxury and Practical Use, in The Practice of the Bible in the Middle Ages: Production, Reception, and Performance in Western Christianity, ed. Reilly (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), pp.
247-71 [John Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) [Regenstein 3rd Floor Reference, BV186.5.
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This music has been sung over centuries and centuries." Since 2007 when Aim Higher Entertainment was launched -- the umbrella company for De Montfort Music -- the label has wanted to provide and share a state of the art recording of the hidden Gregorian Chant of these humble yet talented monks.
Finally in late 2014, The Monks agreed to be professionally recorded on location at their monastery.