The Cistercian Monks of Stift HeiligenkreuzView in iTunes
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Based at the Abbey of Stift Heiligenkreuz, in the Vienna woods area of Austria, the Cistercian Monks came to the attention of the pop music and classical crossover-buying audience with the release of the album Chant: Music for the Soul -- (the album was entitled Chant: Music for Paradise in Europe) in 2008. The album, a collection of the monks participating in the "sung prayer" that is Gregorian chant, was a hit the world over, bringing a fair amount of attention -- not to mention financial windfall -- to the centuries-old order. Founded in 1133 by St. Leopold III, the abbey at Stift Heiligenkreuz has survived a number of harrowing circumstances, including the Turkish invasion of the 17th century, and the rise (and fall) of the Nazi regime in neighboring Germany. As of the time of release of Chant, the order numbered around 80 monks, most of whom live in the Abbey. In 2008, Universal Records, looking to release another collection of Gregorian chant, contacted the monastery in Austria, and after some prayer, consultation, and negotiation, an agreement was hashed out, and the monks agreed to record the album. The recordings featured 17 of the monks, who recorded the work in their church, according to the traditions that have been around since pre-Christian times. The album was a huge hit, debuting at number one on the Billboard charts in the United States upon its release. In 2011, the follow-up Vesperae: Baroque Vespers at Stift Heiligenkreuz arrived, along with Chant: Amor et Passio, while in 2012 Chant: Stabat Mater was released. ~ Chris True