Mount St. Mary’s Abbey 1962 album to be re-released

The singing voices of the nuns at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham will be heard again soon, available online at iTunes and Amazon as well in music stores. 

An international music group based in Paris is rereleasing the abbey’s 1962 recording, “Christmas in the Cloister.” The CD, which couples traditional Gregorian chants with well-known carols such as “Silent Night,” will be for sale again starting Tuesday.

“Christmas in the Cloister” was rediscovered by Jade Records, which has released Gregorian chant albums for 30 years. Stefan Karrar, Jade’s head of US acquisitions, said he came across Mount St. Mary’s Abbey while searching for Gregorian chant ensembles in this country.

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The nuns’ chant on “Christmas in the Cloister,” he said, “is absolutely perfect. It’s unbelievable. That’s what blew us away.”

Jade Records and the abbey talked about making a new CD for the holiday season. But the recording is still in the works, and couldn’t be completed in time for this year. So, the company decided to rerelease the 1962 recording, in a development first reported by a local community newspaper, the Wrentham Times.  

Jade “tries to promote Gregorian and monastic music,” said Mother Maureen McCabe, the abbess of the community of Cistercian nuns. “It doesn’t matter too much when it’s done, as long as it’s beautiful.”

McCabe, who has been at the abbey for 40 years, said a few of the nuns who sang for “Christmas in the Cloister” are still singing at the abbey. The Gregorian chant on the album is “immortal music,” she said.

Mount St. Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1949 and is now home to 41 nuns. McCabe said the sisters sing “a lot,” and record CDs occasionally for their own gift shop.

The new CD being produced by St. Mary’s and Jade will be made up of all Gregorian chants, and should be ready for release in the spring, according to Karrar.