[Today: Just chillin' with the benedictine monks...]
Gregorian chants are rooted in 6th century Rome, and were the creation of their namesake, Pope Gregory the Great. These chants usually assume the shape of a hypnotic series of monophonic, interweaving Latin choruses – typically performed by male choirs during Catholic Mass. Gregorian chants have fallen in and out of favor many times throughout history, both with the church and musical scholars. But they’ve enjoyed a tremendous (and unprecedented) popular revival over the last 20 years that goes well beyond the church, and into millions of hi-fi systems in homes across the country and around the globe.
Released in 1994 by Angel Records, Chant reached #3 on the Billboard charts, and sold triple platinum. The album is the work of the benedictine monks of the Santo Domingo de Silos Abbey, located in the Burgos province of northern Spain. After the album broke loose on the US charts, these monks found themselves in the unexpected position of garnering interview requests from television programs like The Tonight Show and Good Morning America. Chant reportedly sold more than a million copies in the United States within its first month of release.
Why all the fuss over an album of ancient chants that feature no instrumentation of any kind? Quite simply, this music soothes the soul in times of chaos. In 1989, astronomer Freimut Borngen named the asteroid 100019 Gregorianik in honor of the Gregorian chant – a fitting tribute to a music that stands as mankind’s most sublime artistic reach towards – and embrace of – the heavens.
Listen: Anon: Puer Natus Est Nobis