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Sunday, 1 August 2010

The future's bright - but not with orange vestments

While looking up material for the post I wrote yesterday about the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation and their recording contract with Decca, my interest was piqued by the subtitle of the CD "Chant from Avignon." Later this month, Fr Briggs and I will be travelling down by Eurostar and TGV to stay in Avignon for a few days. I thought that it might be possible to find the Abbaye de Notre-Dame and go to hear the nuns singing Vespers.

Looking them up, I felt rather silly. We have already planned to take a day out to visit Le Barroux; and in fact, the nuns are next door to the Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine and they celebrate the Liturgy according to the usus antiquior. That detail slipped past many of those who wrote about their deal with Decca.

Here is my translation of the text at the Barroux website concerning the nuns:
The community of Benedictine nuns of Our Lady of the Annunciation was born in 1979. Four young girls were gathered around Mother Elizabeth and, following Dom Gerard, they also wanted to have "the experience of tradition". After moving to different places, they were able to find in their turn a place in the town of Barroux in 1983.

In 1987, after the first phase of works it was possible to move in, though the foundation was still precarious. The monastery was recognized canonically by the Holy See in 1989 and erected as an abbey in 1992. Mother Elizabeth received the Abbatial Blessing from Cardinal Mayer. The founder relinquished her office, and in 2000 Mother Placide was elected to succeed her. She brought the works to their conclusion, particularly the Abbey Church, which was consecrated on May 12, 2005 by Cardinal Medina who came as special envoy of Pope Benedict XVI.
It's all rather poignant really. Those who have been trying to make money from liturgical music by promoting pop ditties, jealously guarded by copyright restrictions and favoured status, now have the galling prospect of  traditionalist nuns singing Gregorian chant, set to make shedloads of cash that will provide all the material security they need for their monastic foundation - and probably many others founded from it. The future is bright, but it does not lie in twangeroo and orange vestments, I'm afraid. Ask the market.

Now for the video I promised yesterday. I found it at the French site for Gloria TV: at 43'56" it can only show highlights from the six hour ceremony of the consecration of the Abbey Church:

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