Monday, November 3, 2014

O Day of Resurrection! (Jade Music)

Big Sur, California is known for its natural beauty, so much so that it has been the inspiration for artists and authors alike. It has also become a sort of haven for hippies and beatniks, trying to escape the concrete jungle. However, in 1958, the Camaldolese established the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California. This is a perfect example of being in the world, but not of the world.  What is a hermitage? A hermitage is "a community of hermits, each living in an individual cell enclosed by a garden, but praying together." This prayer includes not only the Mass, but the Liturgy of the Hours. The New Camaldoli Hermitage has released a CD, entitled O Day of Resurrection!, which is a recording of the monks’ Sunday chants of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The CD has 27 tracks and is divided into four sections - Vigils, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. If some of these sections sound unfamiliar to you, they are the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer, respectively. These are the major hours of the day. The minor hours Terce (Three), Sext (Six), and None (Nine) are not on this CD. If you are unfamiliar with how the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed, you will notice listening to this CD that it is a lot of Psalms, and a lot of Canticles.

The style of singing can best be classified as plainchant, but you will notice some Byzantine influence, especially in the Trisagion, which happens to be one of my favorite prayers. Other tracks/prayers you should recognize include the Benedictus, Magnificat, Our Father, and Salve Regina. What is missing is the appropriate readings for each office. This is because those change Sunday to Sunday (and day to day, but this a CD for Sunday). So, while you could just listen to this album and sing/pray along with the monks, you would be better served getting a little Liturgy of the Hours book or going to a website, pausing the CD at the appropriate time, and reading the proper readings at the proper time.

This CD spoke volumes to me. The music was bone-chillingly beautiful. I have heard or said these prayers hundreds of times, and to my discredit, sometimes glossing over them. However, hearing them chanted, they spoke to me on a deeper level. I won't say I had a favorite track as the whole album is a beautiful prayer. I will say pay close attention to the closing Troparia (Tracks 6 and 13), as they will provide you with excellent material to meditate on until you arrive at the next hour. I leave you with a behind the scenes video of the monks.

This CD was provided to me for free by Carmel Communications in exchange for an honest review. If you are looking for more information on the New Camaldoli Hermitage or perhaps have an interest in a vocation there, please click here.