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Showing posts from June, 2018

Monastic Family of Bethlehem

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The Monastic Family of Bethlehem offers another window into the world of contemporary chant. The full title is the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno. Founded by some French pilgrims in Rome in 1950, the reference to St. Bruno lets you know that their spirituality is Carthusian. The contemplative nuns were founded soon after and the brothers, in 1976. I have two CDs of their chant from the monasteries in Israel with chants in Arabic and Hebrew and Latin. They are quite unique and beautiful. Interestingly, several of the newer French-originated orders are strongly influenced by the iconography and practice of the Eastern church.

If you’re looking for them in the USA, there is a monastery of nuns in Livingston Manor, New York. The late Cardinal John O’Connor gave them an old summer camp. Here’s their website. Of course, this is the French language site, but a translation in English is also available.

VOCES8 Sing Arvo Part’s Nunc Dimittis

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You may need to crank the volume on your device to really enjoy this because so much of Part’s music features very quiet bass lines - and turn off the washing machine or you’ll just hear your own spin cycle. While most videos I select feature the singers themselves, I rather like pictures of natures once in a while.


As you undoubtedly know, Part (and yes, there’s supposed to be an umlaut over the “a”) is an Estonian composer of minimalist religious music.  He is Eastern Orthodox and his music has been compared to the spare style of Orthodox iconography. If you want to know more, why not visit theArvo Part Project which is based at St. Vladimir’s Seminary or read Peter Bouteneff’s book, Out of Silence. 

Or you can just enjoy the music for its depth and meditative quality.

VOCES8 is a fantastic octet from the UK, with a sound that reminds me of the King’s Singers when I liked them in the old days - only multiplied by two and with a fantastic repertoire. And lots of videos (as well as CD…