The P Speaks: Chant & Be Merry


Monks generally do good things. Some of them brew fine Trappist style ale, and I thank them for that. And other monks sing, which can be equally intoxicating.

In the childhood house of P, music was ever-present. Designed well ahead of its time, the walls of our house intentionally didn’t reach the ceiling, so music was unavoidable – it wafted from room to room. And that worked out just fine for me: one sibling blasted the Paul McCartney, another Carole King or Three Dog Night. And my father just turned the volume up a little louder on the classical offerings…

Gregorian chants crept into the earways of our house near the end of November, just as soon as we’d all recovered from Thanksgiving. If you aren’t wearing robes and upholding the Rule of St. Benedict (pax, ora et labora) Gregorian chants may be an acquired taste.

Given the season, I thought it would be interesting to see what’s topping the charts in Gregorian chants as this art form celebrates its 10th century…

Chant cover

Chant I + Chant II – Performed by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos in Northern Spain. Originally released on vinyl in 1974 (Santa?), this is the best-selling album of Gregorian chant ever released. Another worth a listen from the same abbey is The Mystery Of Santo Domingo De Silos – Gregorian Chant From Spain.

Music For The Soul

Chant Music for Paradise – Featuring the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkruez (near Vienna), this album was released in the last year to great acclaim. Their PR monk sent a weblink in to a competition sponsored by Universal, and they won a record contract without ever having to soil themselves in front of Simon Cowell. World fame followed – here is their Dancing With The Stars video

Meditative Gregorian Chants

Lost in Meditation: Meditative Gregorian Chants II by Capella Gregoriana. Released in 1994.

Gregorian Chant
Salve Regina: Gregorian Chant – Performed by Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of St. Maurice & St. Maur of the Abbey of Clevaux, France. This recording is unadorned and – to its credit – sparsely produced. Highly recommended by Gregorian purists, it came out on vinyl in the 60’s and was released on cd in 1990. 

Eternal Chant  

Eternal Chant – This French three-disc box set features a variety of performers, um, I mean monks, including Les Ambrosiniens of the Fontenay Abbey, Venance Fortunate Ensemble, Chevilly Choir of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit, Children’s Choir of the Dijon Cathedral. It’s a bit of a mishmash, and not all Gregorian. What’s up with the cover art? I’ve placed it last for a reason…

So get in touch with your inner Latin-speaking choirperson and have yourselves a Kyrie or two…

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