If you love Advent and Christmas as much as I do, you may have experienced the same frustration I do every year when you try to find good Advent music to listen to. Christmas songs abound, but Advent tends to get short shrift on seasonal albums. My iTunes advent playlist consists mostly of different versions of the same five or six songs in different versions and languages, plus a few that are close enough to Advent in their spirit (if not in their lyrics) to merit inclusion. My Christmas playlist, by contrast, tops 1500 songs, from the silly to the sublime.
So, if you have the same experience, I bring you tidings of great joy, which is for all Advent fans! The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles are going to release a CD of Advent songs! OK, I admit that my lack of Advent music is probably because I have not bought any real Advent albums (which really do exist), but beyond a doubt, the best way to remedy that is to start with this CD. I have two other albums by these contemplative nuns – “Echos of Ephesus” and “Christmas at Ephesus” – and they are just beautiful.
Although they are not professionals, the nuns sing well together, and their voices are imbued with devotion and grace. Their songs are all of a fairly traditional style – including Gregorian Chant and polyphony, English and Latin, all a capella – which I greatly appreciate. Their calming and ethereal yet joyful feminine tones on the Christmas album make a good counterbalance to Straight No Chaser’s all-male a capella antics and Bryn Terfel’s orchestra-accompanied baritone, not to mention all the other genres which inhabit my Christmas playlist.
They have not published the full list of songs on the new Advent album (which will be available on November 20), although there are some sample clips on their website, and I have full confidence that this album will be as good as the others they have produced. The CD does not come cheap at $20, but we all know that when we buy products from monastic communities, we are making a donation well beyond the cost of production. Yes, you can get the album cheaper through Amazon.com and other sources. However, I’d rather pay more and make a bigger donation to their community. (Although it strikes me now that it might actually be helpful for them if we by the album through Amazon.com, getting them a higher ranking on the website and possibly generating more sales… Hmmm…. Oh well, too late. I already ordered three copies through their website – one for me, and two as Christmas gifts for others. If I need more copies I might get them through Amazon.)