Christmas Music Recommends; Last Minute, but Still Time!

Christmas Music Recommends; Last Minute, but Still Time! December 20, 2013

Over at Lisa Hendey’s place, she is recommending some beautiful music.

This reminds me that I need to do that, too — that I’d promised a bunch of music recommendations for Christmas before utterly running out of steam after recommending gifts and then books and dvds!

Lisa’s recommendations are excellent — you can’t go wrong with Benedictine Nuns or Dominican sisters chanting!

But let us give a little attention to some of the menfolk. I love female voices in chant, but I must confess that male voices turning on the Gregorian has always taken me to a whole ‘nother place, and on that note, let’s give a hearing to some Dominican Friars coming to us from the Dominican House of Studies, Province of St. Joseph, in Washington DC. They’ve put together In Medio Ecclesiae: Music for the New Evangelization and you can listen to some of it, (and buy it if you like, here.

The chanting of the The Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz is so pristine as to seem otherworldly, and it’s gorgeous, but these Dominicans have an earthy, “feet on the ground” sort of sound. I like it. The difference in sound is reflective, perhaps, of the difference etween monastic monks who are charged, primarily, to pray, and mobile friars called to preach.

The Dominicans of the St. Joseph Province are mobile in another way — they’re growing like wildfire. I think they have something like 70 young friars in various stages of formation, and who knows what their next Vocation Weekends, scheduled for February 7-9, 2014; April 4-6, 2014, will bring.

Meanwhile, for something completely different, check out this spoken-word album by Father Claude Burns, also knows (on Twitter and elsewhere) as Fr. Pontifex:

You might remember Father Burns for his viral video, a spoken word response to a put-down of religion. Matt Swaim writes about Burns’ work, here:

. . .after Christian evangelist Jefferson Bethke’s spoken word video, Why I Love Jesus, but Hate Religion, began to rack up YouTube hits by the millions in the Winter of 2012, Fr. Pontifex felt compelled to team up with Spirit Juice Studios out of Chicago to craft his own spoken word response, Why I Love Religion and Love Jesus, which itself is approaching the million view mark.

That relationship with Spirit Juice Studios led to more spoken word videos from Fr. Pontifex on other controversial topics regarding the Church: atheism, homosexuality, the intercession of the saints, and more. His sophomore album, The Symphony and the Static, can be seen as an appropriate synthesis of the college radio rap of Ordained and the summer blockbuster soundtrack musical vibe of his spoken word YouTube efforts.

In fact, the opening track and first single, The Overture (see music video below), is almost evocative of the theme from AMC’s The Walking Dead, with its urgent string accompaniments and steady buildup that seem almost appropriate for an NFL night game intro montage. It crescendos seamlessly into the dramatic No Mercy, with string samples that set the tone for a project that portends to be something different than your average rap album.

I’ll leave you with this rap, about — what else — Idol Worship, which Fr. Burns talks about here.

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