Saturday, February 13, 2016

Music For Lent & Easter

As we are in the Lenten season that will lead us to the cross and the resurrection, here are some suggestions of five different albums you can purchase to help prepare your thoughts and soul in prayer, praise, and reflection.

St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is one of Bach's greatest masterpieces. As Madeleine L'Engle said of this work that if affirms the loving presence of God. Bach was a composer of great and deep faith whose St. Matthew Passion opens the door for the listener to the numinous and the sacred.

Make thyself clean, my heart, 
I will myself entomb Jesus. 
For he shall henceforth in me 
For ever and ever 
Take his sweet rest. 
World, begone, let Jesus in! 

Passion by Peter Gabriel. There are those who will balk at my suggesting the soundtrack for the controversial film The Last Tempation of Christ (recommending the soundtrack, not the film) but the music is not only stirring but conjures up many emotions as one listens to the tracks of this album. This work builds from love to pain to gloom to glorious resurrection by using centuries-old Armenian, Egyptian and Kurdish motifs. Indeed, much of the pain one feels comes from listening to the middle-eastern singing. Gabriel himself sings very little on this record, but when he does its to sing the chorus, "Open your eyes! Let in the Light!" 

Lent At Ephesus by Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. St. Benedict believed that life should be a continous season of Lent centered around the cross. During a time when we are to give our lives to Christ as he gave us his own, the Sisters' voices move gracefully and passionately through each of the songs on this album. They live lives dedicated to prayer and this music is a beatiful album to use in prayer. 

Easter At Ephesus by Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. There is a beauty and peace to their albums that come from deep within their souls. The Sisters let their joy and their reverence show and remind us of why Saint Augustine said that "to sing is to pray twice."

Fortunate Fall by Audrey Assad. Assad describes this album as “part praise and worship, part liturgically influenced meditation”, with a “framework that is definitely built for prayer, whether that be personal, alone in the car, or Friday night prayer and worship”. She also said that it's the result of her exploration of the idea that “there’s something mysteriously fortunate about the Fall of Man that afforded us the chance to know Christ as our Redeemer”. It owes a lot to Saint Augustine's statement that "God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist."  The quiet, reflective music allows one to meditate on Christ and his love for us. As the album starts, she sings as though at the Easter Vigil Mass:

O happy fault - o happy fault
That gained for us so great a Redeemer

What more true words can one sing during this season?

Those are my selections, what are yours? What music do you listen to during the Lenten season?

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