One of my favorite places to visit is the Abbey of Gethsemani where Thomas Merton lived as a Trappist monk. The abbey is only about an hour’s drive from my house and I try to get down there at least once a month. I have had the privilege of playing concerts there and have become friends with Br. Paul Quenon (photo below), one of the monks who is a published poet and wonderful photographer. We actually did a CD together with him reading his poems and me offering a musical improvisational background.
The monks pray seven times a day, eight if you count the daily Mass and the Psalms are always at the center of their prayers. They sing several of the psalms at each prayer session and they are sung antiphonally. This means they are divided into two groups facing each other and each group alternates singing a line from the psalm. This creates a beautiful setting for prayer. The impression one gets from listening to the monks sing is that it is almost conversational.
I also invite you to go back to my blog from last week which is also on the Psalms.
Director of Music for Darkwood Brew