The Monks of Norcia


The Monks of Norcia
BENEDICTA: Marian Chant from Norcia
Decca Records

I am by no means and expert on traditional chant and I think I own less than a handful of CD’s of this type. However, I can appreciate the art and history behind the genre. In this case the history of the monks is particularly interesting. Through history, the medieval town of Norcia had been the home of monks until the Napoleonic reign that suppressed and eventually caused the closure of the monastery in 1810. It was not until 1998 before the monks would return to the Norcia monastery. Their history in Norcia and beyond is one of devotion, study, prayer and service. A calling that cannot be taken lightly. The music is a natural outpouring of their liturgy and prayer set to traditional chant.

“BENEDICTA” is an awesome recording sonically, with a traditional chamber sound and a rhythmic and poetic lyrical drift. The theme of the recording is focused around the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The compositions include a full choir, smaller groups, solos, and instrumentals giving the recording a nice flow and variety. On the surface it’s purely enchanting, but if you dig deeper into the words of the chants there is much to be learned. Even if you may disagree with their doctrine or preference, there is still a core worship of God that we can all relate to.

While I thought at first that it might go against their practices to be so public, I think I might just be a bit misinformed about their lifestyles. As it was stated in their press release, “We are not angels, we are mean – so we have to eat.” The monks therefore work for their daily needs and are quite self-sufficient and they know what can get peoples attention. Be it that be traditional chant or the craft brewery they run at the monastery! Either way, the monks are bringing attention to an ageless tradition that is steeped in spiritual depth.

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– Ken W.

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