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Disc reviews: The Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, ‘Chant: Into the Light’

Chant: Into the Light

The Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz

[Obsculta Music]

Four stars

Since 1183, seven times a day starting at 5:15 a.m., the monks at Austria’s monastery of Heiligenkreuz have been singing Gregorian chant, in unison and in Latin. They recorded this disc, they write, “to facilitate a deeper experience of the mystery of Easter.” They do so also in the hope that more people will be inspired to explore this traditional music of the Roman Catholic Church, and incorporate it into worship. These particular chant melodies are often heard at traditional Latin masses around the world, including hear here in Buffalo at Latin masses at St. Anthony of Padua Church and, in Cheektowaga, in the beautiful little chapel of Our Lady Help of Christians.

To hear these monks sing the chants of Holy Week and Easter, though, gives a special feeling of timelessness. They have it down to a science after all these centuries, and their voices blend seamlessly, creating a kind of curtain of sound. The monks sound on the young side, and they are, judging from the photos showing them in their sweeping white robes. The disc begins with the Missa Beatae Mariae Virginis (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and continues with chants involving Christ’s Passion and death before concluding with the Easter Jubilatio. The monks have recorded several chant albums since 2008, when Universal Records approached them and talked them into the first one. All of them have been “hits,” popular with traditional Catholics, people interested in medieval music and still others who class themselves as “spiritual” and are simply seeking calm.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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