The singing of the praises of God is at the heart of the vocation of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. Not only do they offer that daily work on our behalf, but they also offer the lovely gift of their voices along with their desire to share the riches of what Advent has to teach us in their Advent at Ephesus CD.
The purpose in making their music available is wonderfully expressed in these lines from their website: “Each year during this season, we strive to unite ourselves to Our Lady in her joyful longing, her quiet and prayerful expectation of the Child Jesus’ birth. We hope this Advent recording will help many souls to enter into the mysteries of this holy season with Our Lady’s heart.”
The sixteen pieces included in “Advent at Ephesus” range from well-known folk carols to sacred music and chant in a mixture of Latin and English. I like the combination of familiar hymns and the sacred music I would like to know better. Although a variety of types of music are included, the sound remains similar throughout. Heavenly, eternal, and peaceful with glorious harmonies and perfect pitch, you can tell that this is a group that sings together in prayer every day!
I do prefer more lively renditions of some of the pieces. For example “O Come, Divine Messiah” is more often sung as a sprightly, lilting tune while the sisters do a contemplative version that is more in keeping with the tone of the rest of the soundtrack. At the same time, some selections such as “Like the Dawning,” “Angelus Ad Virginem,” and “Gabriel’s Message” are subtly bright and forward-moving without distinctively changing from the overall tone. I’ve found this to be a strength rather than weakness of the recording.
This is what I ask the kids to put on in those hectic moments when I’m making dinner, trying to keep track of the to-do list and supervising chores all at the same time. At those times to add music to the mix I need something soothing and consistent. It’s also the Advent music I select when I’m starting to feel a little tense or that I’m losing focus. Its prayerful, quiet beauty helps me to feel that Advent longing for the Lord along with the deep peace of knowing that He is coming!
Listen to a few samples by clicking this link.
You may also enjoy Mater Eucharistiae, a new recording of sacred music for the Christmas season just released by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.