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Chant – Music for the Soul

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Album Review

Chant: Music for the Soul is a series of 29 biblically inspired meditations sung by monks at the Cistercian Abbey near Vienna, Austria, where the order has existed since the year 1133. Recorded and released in 2008, the album hit number one on the Austrian pop charts and reached the Top Ten in the U.K.. Profits from sales, it is said, will fund scholarships for students from other countries who wish to study at the Abbey, known locally as Stift Heiligenkreuz. The chants, largely based upon Psalms and including the Canticle of Simeon from the Book of Luke, are grouped into four breathtaking rituals whose titles translate as "Into Paradise," "Mass for the Dead," "Night Prayer" and "Spirit of the Lord." The most striking qualities of this music are the gentleness of the voices and the spatial and acoustic dynamics of the edifice within which the chanting was carried out. Gregorian chant is sung in Latin and in unison without any instrumentation, so as to create a devotional conduit directly from a group of individuals to the deity. One very simple melodic line is sung without harmony. The chants are composed in what is described as "a free musical rhythm that rises and falls in accord with the inner meaning of the melody and the words." As is the case with a cappella sacred music from cultures all over the world, the listener might well experience a near-complete suspension of the sense of the passage of time. While conventional musicologists have often bent over backwards to deny it, the Cistercians themselves openly state that "the melodies have their ultimate roots in the Jewish Temple Liturgy." During the 1990s, a resurgence of interest in Gregorian chant took place when traditional plainsong recordings by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos began to sell in quantities usually associated with pop music. This surprising development eventually led to a series of weirdly inappropriate tribute albums to Elvis Presley, Elton John, ABBA, and Celine Dion wherein pop lyrics were incongruously filtered through the mouths of individuals who sang in the style of Gregorian chant, with instrumental accompaniment. While these crossover experiments (which corrupted the ancient formula and exploited the essence of the music) were perhaps inevitable, many feel that the results conveyed little more than shallow vulgarity and commercial debasement. Happily, and quite successfully, the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz have given the world a beautiful recording that is faithful to the humble dignity of authentic plainsong. It may be savored and appreciated by individuals of any social background or spiritual inclination. Listeners may find it at once tremendously moving and wonderfully relaxing. Twice during the proceedings the voices fall silent as the bells of Stift Heiligenkreuz reverberate throughout the ancient structure.

Customer Reviews

This is great!!!

I have to say that it's about time, in a good way, that someone thought this kind of music should be available to everyone and to guys like me, who like this genre but are bad with keywords in search tools. So thank you to the people that made this possible. The album is awesome.

Very relaxing music

I listened to some Gregorian Chant while I was having a dental implant procedure, and it was so relaxing, and soothing, I dozed off during the operation. I only had novocaine to ease the pain.

Great Album and Quick download

This is a beautiful album and is even better than the 2 Gregorian Chant albums that came out in the 1990s. This is very melodic and lush in sound. The monophonic sounds are tight and unified. If you want to listen to a female version of these monk then I would also recommend listening to The Anonymous 4. $7.99 for 30 tracks is pretty decent and of the 30 tracks 29 of them are less that 4.5 minutes in length. Only the last track is under 7 minutes. With all the tracks being short in length, this album is a quick download too.


Formed: Vienna, Austria

Genre: Classical

Years Active:

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...
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