Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Five Favorites - My Favorite (Devotional) Music

See, St. Cecilia liked devotional music, too.
She has a super-cool, hand-held pipe organ.
I think she was a music nerd, too.

I'm hanging out with the cool kids again over at Moxie Wife. Thanks for hosting, Hallie!

Okay. I am a church musician.  And I listen to devotional music, for fun, all the time.

I know. That blows a lot of people's minds.

My kids, who are now 18 and 21, had no idea that other people listened to normal things, like the radio, when they were kids. Their lives were filled with music from the Shaker tradition, Spirituals from the time of the Revolutionary War, chant, polyphony, Irish folk music, German folk music, and the occasional U2 album. (Because I like U2, that's why - I'm showing my age, aren't I?) When they went to school (after homeschooling for a few years) they were shocked that their peers didn't know songs like "Simple Gifts" and "The Wren Song".

When I am listening to music, it really has nothing to do with research. It's mostly just about enjoying the music.  Occasionally, though, I find a CD or piece in a collection that I can incorporate into the Mass. But, most of the time, this music is strictly for my own consumption and devotional purposes - and for the sheer joy of the music itself.

So here's the stuff that sits in my CD carousel/iPod memory most often:

Voices of Ascension: Beyond Chant 
(I have borrowed heavily from this one for Mass)

This is the one that started it all. I love this album and I'd say I've done about 50% of these pieces with choirs I have conducted or sung with. There's not a stinker on the whole album. The music is beautifully chosen and beautifully performed. You will not be sorry for the investment in this one.

Boston Camerata: Travelin' Home

This collection of music is collected from post-Colonial American primary sources and is a lovely portrait of how the music you hear in Church developed. He includes songs that were used as the basis for hymns later on and even includes some that were penned by non-English speaking communities who were, nevertheless, very American. My favorites: "Confidence" and "Invocation"

The Chieftains: Bells of Dublin

This is one of my favorite albums of all time. And, yes, I know it's not Christmas, but I just love the music. The Chieftains collaborate with several well-known starts of music and film to create a masterpiece of Irish Folk music that celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus and the colorful traditions that surround the Irish celebration of Christmas.

Boston Camerata: Simple Gifts

This is apparently a collectible album. I had no idea (as I reflect that it rides around in my car everyday). It's my favorite cleaning music. Yeah, no kidding. I can't use a single thing from this album at Mass, but it's a fascinating album to listen to. Not only will you hear a lot of folk music influence from the British Isles, you will learn a lot about the Shaker movement which has all but died out.

Yes. I am a music nerd. That's probably the reason that Joel Cohen is one of my go to artists. His liner notes are amazing. If you buy any of his albums, get a real live copy because you will want to read all his historical background notes.

The Benedictines of Mary: Angels and Saints at Ephesus
(I have used things from this one for Mass)

This CD changed the way I look at music for the Mass and is one of the most relaxing CDs I possess. It's simplicity is inspiring. I actually like it much better than their debut album "Advent at Ephesus", but that time of year is coming. If you're looking for Advent music, I recommend the nuns' recordings.

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