New Christmas music CD recorded by Benedictines
By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Although you just looked out the window and saw people in T-shirts and shorts, the Christmas season is drawing near. Pop the new “Christmas at Ephesus” CD by the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles in the player, close your eyes and you are transported to a stable on a snowy night in Bethlehem. Crystalline voices, woven harmonies, and medieval chants bring that first Christmas into the room.
A little taste of Christmas joy at the Priory of Ephesus.
The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles are still new to the Kansas City Catholic community, invited here by Bishop Robert W. Finn in 2006. A traditional monastic community of women who desire to emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary by living in quiet seclusion at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus, encouraging, praying for and supporting priests, they are a joyful group who sing while at work, at prayer or at play.
Last year the sisters recorded their first CD, “Echoes of Ephesus,” described by the prioress, Mother Therese McNamara, as a window into the life of the community. “People didn’t know about us,” she said. “But since that CD, they’ve been bringing us their prayer requests, for priests and for vocations, and priests have been coming to us for retreats.”
They recently broke ground for an ambitious new monastery near Gower. The proceeds from the Christmas CD will go toward that building plan. The sisters have been encouraged by the success of the CD released last year. Nearly 60,000 copies were sold or given out. For this recording, the sisters began with 60,000 copies. Their music and charism caught the attention of Ian Byrne, a Kansas City businessman and lead singer for the local Irish band The Elders. Through Byrne, the sisters connected with Steve Phillips, a recording engineer and musician with the local Irish band. With his assistance, the CD was recorded at Conception Abbey, where the acoustics are just right. Production costs were reduced by packaging the discs in cardboard cases.
Mother Therese is pleased with the results. “A lot of the arrangements are our own,” she said. “We recorded Silent Night as it was originally performed. You know, the church’s organ was broken so composer Franz Gruber played the accompaniment for Stille Nacht on his guitar.”
Some of the songs are familiar carols; others are original compositions by the sisters. Almost every day, one of the sisters is inspired to write a song, Mother Therese said. “We’re not professionals,” she said. “We just love to sing.”
The CDs, Christmas at Ephesus and Echoes of Ephesus, can be purchased for $20 online at the community’s website, www.benedictinesofmary.org/page-musicalrecordings.html.