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James Martin, S.J.November 16, 2009

Lately, when I find it hard to pray, or am distracted, or can't settle down interiorly, I've started to use musical settings of the psalms and other religious music to help quiet my soul.  It's a wonderful entree into prayer, and sometimes can even become prayer itself, as you let the music and the words express your own feelings and desires to God.  The two resources that I've found the most helpful, and which I would like to recommend, are recordings from two groups.  The first is Gloria Dei Cantores, based in Orleans, Mass, who have several CDs out that use traditional chant and chorale music, and the second, the music of Schola Ministries.  Gloria Dei's website describes them as follows:

Singled out by the American Record Guide for "performances which are impeccable and deeply moving," and by Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe for having "a quality that lies beyond words," the internationally renowned 40-voice choir Gloriæ Dei Cantores (Singers to the Glory of God) holds a passionate dedication to find and express the most authentic and compelling interpretation of sacred choral music spanning two millennia."

My favorite from all the three CDs I have is "His Love Endures Forever," selections of which you can listen to here.

Also Schola Ministries, which centers around the work and music of Kathleen Deignan, CND, uses a wide variety of traditional and newly minted music, much of it by Sister Kathleen.  Here is how they describe their ministry: 

Welcome to Schola Ministries, a cooperative venture in service of the contemplative and liturgical arts that provides a ministry platform to produce and share the musical compositions and creative works of Kathleen Deignan, C.N.D. and other Schola artists.  Since its founding in 1977, and re-founding in 1997, Schola Ministries has grown into a multi-faceted sacred arts company that has produced thirteen recordings of Deignan’s music, providing support for her work of spiritual animation in concert with a host of gifted friends.

Better than reading the above is listening to a sample of their beautiful music, some of which is taken from favorite prayers, selections from Scripture or psalms (as well writings by St. Teresa of Avila or Thomas Merton).  My current favorite is "I am Thine."  Listen to it here.  Another favorite is Beloved City, which I've listened to over and over.  And their version of the Ave Maria is stunning.

I hope both groups help with your prayer!

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Joe Garcia
12 years 6 months ago
I want to give an unsolicited musical plug (or, "shout out" if you'd rather) to the recordings of Gregorian chant led by the very redoubtable Fr. Hubert Dopf, SJ, which are available on the Philips label on CD. Brilliantly arranged and gloriously recorded.

Gabriel McAuliffe
12 years 6 months ago
Prayer - a much needed resource (espcially after reading through this blog)!
God bless you Father, and God bless every one of us who reads America.
12 years 6 months ago
Thanks for the music.  One I like is from the Moon, Sun & All Things: Baroque Music from Latin America by Ex Cathedra, the British Choir/Baroque Orchestra .... Hanacpachap Cussicuinin.  I saw a video of it (by someone else) at YouTube  -
Carolyn Disco
12 years 6 months ago
Re: ''when I find it hard to pray, or am distracted, or can't settle down interiorly,'' yes, that is certainly familiar ground. Thank you for the suggestion of music.
To complement efforts at centering prayer...

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