By Sandy Zimmerman
(Photos by Monks of the Desert)
There is a new group entering the entertainment world called “Monks of the Desert”. This is not just a clever show business name they are Monks. The Monks live in a monastery, in the Chama Canyon wilderness in northwestern New Mexico near the Colorado border. The Monastery of Christ in the Desert located 75 miles north of Santa Fé and 53 miles south of Chama.
Their Sony Masterworks début album “Blessings, Peace and Harmony” brings the spiritual uplifting of Marian Hymns to the public. The Monks feel this ancient music from the Middle Ages calmed their spirits and helped them live in peace and are sharing these Gregorian Chants trying to raise money for the monastery.
This unique album is personal to the Monks as this is a peek inside their lives. Some of the Monks have lived at the Monastery for as long as 27 years and the oldest Monk is 90 years old.
The Monks allow the public to visit the Monastery and stay at their guesthouse. Nine single and three double rooms are available.
Visitors can share in the Benedictine way of life by joining the work assignments in candle and soap making, picking hops, cooking, baking bread, administrative tasks, cleaning,. There is a common room for the guests to communicate with one another. All the meals are held in silence in the refectory (the monastic dining room).
The Monks of the Desert schedule their prayers seven times a day from 4 am to 7:30 pm. During the rest of the day and evening, they attend to self-sustaining businesses of brewing beer (Monk’s Ale & Monk’s Wit), helping at an on-site hotel, a retail store featuring hand-crafted religious items, books, music and folk art, as well as a community thrift store in Santa Fé.
Abbot Philip Lawrence feels, “It is always our hope that the singing will bring others peace and inner tranquility. These values can create a world in which peace and tranquility prevail.
The most interesting part of the Gregorian chant in a monastery community is its ability to allow for everyone to sing and yet provide for opportunities for Monks who love music to become more or less specialists.”
The Monks used the music in their prayers and chants derived from the traditional version of Gregorian chant. They adapted many Gregorian melodies to fit the English language.
“Meet the Monks of the Desert”- Sony Music Entertainment, Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5YY684ZXDE
Sony and the Monks produced several “Dear Abbot” videos with Abbot Philip Lawrence, for complimentary online “Reflections”: http://christdesert.org/Ask_the_Abbot_Videos/index.html
Monks of the Desert, Monastery of Christ in the Desert Website: www.christdesert.org