For the Monks of the Desert, chanting is not about singing, it’s a way to create inner peace and loving thoughts. With Blessings, Peace And Harmony, the Monks hope to bring others into a world in which peace, inner tranquility and an appreciation of beauty prevail.
Blessings, Peace and Harmony is the Monks’ first major label recording and their debut on Sony Masterworks.
The album compiles selections from the Monks’ four independent recordings of Gregorian chant, and also features four new chants recorded expressly for this new collection.
Named after Pope Gregory I, Gregorian chant involves the early Christian liturgical music that originated in medieval times and forms the roots of Western classical music. Consisting solely of melody, the chants are sung unaccompanied and generally by small choral groups – and through the ages have continuously supplied listeners of all circumstances with a soothing sense of solace.
Blessings, Peace and Harmony was designed to deliver a solid overall background of Gregorian chant. Two-thirds of the music comes from the Catholic Mass, the rest consists of various antiphons, or responsorial call-and-response choral formats.
The Monks of the Desert chose this particular repertoire on Blessings, Peace and Harmony because they reflect aspects of monastic life throughout the year.
From its beginning the monastery of christ in the desert, located in New Mexico, USA, has followed the Benedictine life with no external apostolates, but maintains a guesthouse for private retreats where men and women can share the Divine Office and Mass in the abbey church with the monks.
The brothers come from all over the world seeking a particular way of life, one that has no external work outside of the monastery. The purpose is to create an atmosphere of quiet and peace on which all of the inner energies can be focused on prayer or seeking God.
The Monks observe a strict daily prayer schedule called Divine Office or Opus Dei, which takes place seven times during the day and once at night, starting at 4:00am and ending at 7:30pm.
When not praying or studying, the monks run a multitude of self-sustaining businesses including light manufacturing, brewing beer (Monk’s Ale and Monk’s Wit), an on-site “hotel”, community thrift store and a retail store specializing in hand-crafted religious items, books, music, and folk art.
Their completely “off-the-grid” solar-powered monastry in northwestern New Mexico is surrounded by miles of government-protected wilderness assuring and promoting solitude and quiet for the religious life experienced by the monks.
In modern times, many people have been attracted to Gregorian chant. There is something ethereal, transcendent and deep about the sound, not so much as entertainment, but as a deepening of a life of prayer, inner peace, tranquility and sharing with others. The Monks believe that Gregorian chant is a way of touching hearts and minds. Notes Abbot Philip Lawrence, “It is always our hope that our singing will bring others to peace, inner tranquility and an appreciation of beauty. These values can help create a world in which peace and tranquility prevail.”