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Bring Advent at Ephesus home tomorrow

11/19/2012 - 8:44 AM PST

Catholic PRWire

ATLANTA, GA (November 19, 2012) - Just a few short weeks ago, the priory of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, became a modern, high-tech recording studio for three days. You and the world can hear the fruits of that transformation tomorrow (Nov. 20) as De Montfort Music/Decca releases ADVENT AT EPHESUS.

The 16-track CD, also available for digital download, includes hymns the sisters enjoy singing during Advent at the end of Mass; polyphony; traditional chants; and the original work Adjuvabit Eam. Early reviews suggest it could be one of the surprise hits of the year. It has tracked in Amazon's Classical Music top 10 for almost two weeks as preorders have poured in.

"It's difficult to find the right words to describe the angelically perfect sound of ADVENT AT EPHESUS," Royce Hood wrote recently at "The word 'amazing' is true but far from enough. The word 'beautiful' is also accurate and much closer to describing the sound. The word 'necessary' suggests the importance of sacred music in our secular world. Individually, none of the above words do ADVENT AT EPHESUS justice. Together the adjectives merely come close to describing the wonder that is to be available on November 20."

This is, indeed, high praise for the contemplative sisters, who sing together daily but not with any professional aspirations. "We're always singing," said Mother Cecilia, the order's Prioress. "So it was just natural that we make a CD so that we could give something of ourselves to people out in the world."

"Out in the world;" that probably sounds strange - until you consider life at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus, tucked into the rolling farm land of northwest Missouri. The sisters tend a small garden, and they have an orchard. They sew sacred vestments for priests as their primary apostolate. And they sing.

"Music is an integral part of our lives," Mother Cecilia said. "We're in the chapel eight times a day singing to God, and it's just something that comes naturally from our hearts."

"To be around these sisters is like a glimpse into Heaven," De Montfort Music co-founder Monica Fitzgibbons said. She and her husband Kevin formed De Montfort as a division of Aim Higher Media, and ADVENT AT EPHESUS is the label's first release. "When we heard their music, we knew that there was something really special going on there musically that would fit in with our mission for the label."

During a Nov. 10 visit with members of the Santa Cecilia Italian music association in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI suggested that the sacred music like that at the heart of ADVENT AT EPHESUS is a critically important element of prayer and evangelization in today's world. "Music ... is not solely an accessory to or external embellishment of the liturgy, but is itself liturgy," the Holy Father said. "... sacred music, with its great tradition belonging to our western culture can, and indeed does, have an important role to play in encouraging the rediscovery of God, a renewed approach to the Christian message and the mysteries of faith."

De Montfort enlisted Grammy® and Oscar® winning producer Glenn Rosenstein, who traveled to America's heartland; set up a mobile recording studio on the 260-acre property the sisters call home; and captured all of ADVENT AT EPHESUS in only three days. Rosenstein, who has worked with a host of international stars and whose projects have generated sales well in excess of 250 million units (with artists from U2 to the New York Philharmonic) calls this one of his 10 all-time-favorite recordings.

"Our way of life here is truly one of great peace and tranquility," Mother Cecilia said. "Since not everybody can come here - and since we're not going out into the world - ADVENT AT EPHESUS is a way that we can just give a little taste of our life and let people experience it and be part of it."

The sisters are truly gifted vocalists, and events leading up to ADVENT AT EPHESUS' release suggests that they could achieve incredible recognition. Although there's nothing necessarily unusual about that - "breakout artists" come along regularly - their outlook is definitely rare, if not unprecedented.

"We're not professionals," Mother Cecilia said. "It's just that we sing together ... all the time. We are singing on ADVENT AT EPHESUS - if it pleases God - for thousands and thousands of souls, maybe; to bring them comfort and to bring them joy - to lift their hearts to God."

ADVENT AT EPHESUS also represents a rare approach - one that focuses on music celebrating the quiet, introspective anticipation of the Nativity that is the foundation of the Advent season. Here is the full track list for the album; including their original composition Adjuvabit Eam:

1. Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth
2. Angelus ad Virginem
3. Regnantem Sempiterna
4. Gabriel's Message
5. Creator ...

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