The angelic voices of the Cistercian nuns from Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Massachusetts whose music I reviewed for the Christmas Season have returned in a new album entitled To Pray in Beauty: Gregorian Chant, Ever Ancient, Ever New. There is an abundance of exquisite beauty and splendor emanating from the voices of these cloistered nuns as they sing this glorious collection of Gregorian Mass chants. The chants reflect their praise, gratitude, and atonement to God, using words borrowed principally from the Psalms.
The CD contains 19 chants divided into three categories: chants centered on themes related to Cistercian Life, chants centered on the mysteries of Christ’s life, and “The Scrapbook of the Soul” (a selection of introits and one alleluia from various times during the liturgical year expressing a wide range of ways in which the human being turns to God). The CD contains an informative 20 page booklet, which gives: the history and background information on the Gregorian chant, as used by the Cistercian order, both the Latin and the English translations of the chants, a listing of the hymns, and photos of some of the nuns and their monastery.
The words and the melodies are meditative and soothing to the soul. While I found all of the chants to be very beautiful, I felt particularly drawn to those prayers which fell into “The Scrapbook of the Soul” category. There is much that I was able to personally ponder here, in relation to my own walk with God. “Voce Jucunditatis”, the Introit for the 5th Sunday of Easter was very appealing to me. The English translation is as follows:
Declare it with the voice of joy,
and make it known, alleluia; declare
it even to the ends of the earth:
the Lord has delivered His people,
Verse. Shout with joy to God, all the earth,
sing a psalm to His name,
give glory to His praise.
The closing hymn is one of my all-time favorites: “Ave Maris Stella” (Cistercian style). I highly recommend To Pray in Beauty: Gregorian Chant, Ever Ancient, Ever New.
When you purchase this CD, you will not only be giving yourself or someone else a treasured gift that draws that soul closer to God, but you will be helping to support a growing order of traditional Catholic cloistered nuns.
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