Advent at Ephesus
They live a hidden and austere life in the rolling farmland of northwest Missouri but the Benedictines of Mary have still managed to attract the attention of two major record labels with their captivating voices.
They are confined to Missouri but their voices will be taken to the world with their new album, Advent at Ephesus, out from Decca and De Montfort Music on 20 November.
The album is a varied collection of 16 tracks ranging from traditional English and Latin hymns, polyphony, Gregorian chants and medieval harmonies. The album also includes Adjuvabit Eam, an original work of the sisters.
The musical focus is on celebrating the quiet, introspective anticipation of the Nativity that is the foundation of the Advent season.
Prioress Mother Cecilia is a graduate of The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston and was a horn player in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio before giving up her seat to enter religious life. She arranged the songs on Advent at Ephesus.
"We are delighted to be a part of this collaboration with De Montfort Music and Decca," she said. "From the very beginning, we knew that if the venture was pleasing to God, it would be made clear. And so it was, especially in the unheard of ease with which everything was carried out to make this CD possible."
The album was produced by Glenn Rosenstein, who set up a mobile recording studio in the 260-acre grounds of the priory. The entire album was recorded in only three days.
"From the very first note we heard from the Benedictines of Mary - through the recording of their first major international release - we believed in their captivating musical talents," said De Montfort Music chief executive Kevin Fitzgibbons. "It is representative of artistic beauty and truth across the ages. This music is timeless."
"It is an honour and a blessing to have the sisters signed to De Montfort Music and in turn, we are excited for the opportunity Decca has provided us to help release this music, a hidden gem, to a broader audience."
Decca Records has a long tradition of supporting sacred music and vocal artists, so Advent at Ephesus is a natural fit.
"We are thrilled to be distributing De Montfort Music," said Decca General Manager Paul Foley. "Our first collaboration will be with the Benedictines of Mary, a young order of Benedictine contemplative nuns whose bell-like singing and sophisticated harmonies - combined with an impeccable selection of ancient pieces - is in keeping with Decca's rich, longstanding tradition of vocal artistic greatness."
Mother Cecilia said the sisters "only desire the salvation of souls" through the music.
She said: "Though we did not go in search of big distribution, we are thrilled that providentially we ended up with Decca, who has distributed music from the Holy Father as well as other great works of chant and sacred music."
The full track list for the album is as follows:
1. Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth
2. Angelus ad Virginem
3. Regnantem Sempiterna
4. Gabriel's Message
5. Creator Alme Siderum
6. Hayl, Mary
7. Rorate Caeli
8. Praeparate Corda Vestra
9. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
10. Benedixisti Domime
11. Maria Walks Amid the Thorn
12. Alma Redemptoris Mater
13. Adjuvabit Eam*
14 O Come Divine Messiah
15 Vox Clara
16 Like the Dawning
* Original composition