(LONDON GUARDIAN) A monastery of Benedictine nuns living in seclusion in southern France has opened its doors to allow recordings of its Gregorian chants to be made available to the outside world.
In what is believed to be the largest recording project ever conducted, the US musician John Anderson followed the 45-strong order for three years. He installed microphones in the abbey church of Notre-Dame de Fidélité de Jouques near Aix-en-Provence in southern France and captured the nuns singing their eight daily “offices”. The result is thousands of chants, the entire Gregorian repertoire, about 7,000 hours long.
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The Gregorian chant originated in the 8th century and spread throughout Europe. It accords to St Benedict’s “rule”, in which the day is divided into balanced divisions of manual and intellectual work, prayer and rest, starting at 5am with the chanting of matins, and concluding with compline at 8pm, followed by the “great silence” of night.