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"Allow this CD to transport you right past the malls and into the season's sacred mystery." —The Dallas Morning News
This Christmas, give the gift of music - the earliest, purest music of the church. Gregorian chant lifts us out of the ordinary stresses of life and invites us to contemplate the timeless and unchanging love of God. The Chants of Christmas presents some of the most beautiful Gregorian chants, including the Christmas Day Mass. Avoid the commercial frenzy of the season and enjoy this beautiful collection of peace and tranquility. This CD features the well known Introits: Dominus dixit and Puer natus, as well as the Christmas Day Mass and the Antiphons to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"The Christmas collection offers four different masses that celebrate different parts of the nativity story: anticipation of the holy birth, the traditional hour of Christ's birth, the dawning of Christmas Day, and the Missa in Die that ties it all together. Each mass differs in character and mood, according to its purpose. The Christmas Day mass is the most joyous of the lot. Two sets of medieval Marian antiphons are included, even though they are not strictly a part of Christmas liturgy...Plainchant, despite its outward simplicity, is not easy to sing properly. It has no set rhythm; the melody line follows the flow of the language, and dynamic variation follows its meaning. Coherent phrasing is a constant challenge, requiring much practice and close attention to the texts. Not even the most seasoned monastic group delivers it better than the Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola, a group that specializes in Gregorian chant. They sing in daily services and appear often in concert with (and as part of) the Gloriae Dei Cantores. Like them, the Schola singers are renowned for their smooth sound, rhythmic flexibility, and intense sacred sentiment."
Lindsay Koob American Record Guide November/December 2006
"The voices of the 16 members, who are dedicated to the singing of Gregorian chant, has been widely acclaimed. On this CD, the Schola chants the four major masses that constitute the celebration of Christmas. The listener will find that each has its own character and sound Ð from the Missam in Viglia, built on the anticipation of Christ's birth, to the Missam in Dei, a moving expression of the evangelical message, 'The Lord has made known his salvation. The Antiphons to the Blessed Virgin Mary, each with its own beauty, are included, although they are not liturgically part of the Christmas season. The antiphons, medieval in origin, were originally used before and after the chanting of a psalm or canticle."
Vicki Gray and Jerry James Episcopal Life December 2006
"In The Chants of Christmas, the ancient Gregorian melodies deliver a mystical aura that envelops the listener, and the mesmerizing impact is equally effective during the holiday season and throughout the year....the professionalism of this ensemble is self-apparent. The delivery is crisp and balanced, and the intonations move seamlessly as the chants rise and fall. When Gregorian chants are beautifully executed, as they certainly are here, the product provides a magic carpet ride of relaxation, yet stimulation. For me, this music provides the ideal backdrop for contemplation on a cold December night--or any night of the year, really. Every chant has a featured cantor who opens the piece before others join in. There is a lovely balance of male and female chants. Kudos to the Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola for their superb work on The Chants of Christmas. The talent required to deliver the tone quality and control demonstrated here is downright divine!"
Carol Swanson Christmasreviews.com
"If you feel quite certain that another chorus of Do You Hear What I Hear? will put you over the edge, try this alternative. The critically acclaimed masters of Gregorian chant perform four ancient Christmas Masses along with special antiphons in honor of the Virgin Mary. These are prayers in song, all in Latin. But you needn't know Latin or music history to appreciate the depth of this recording and its quiet moods, which range from solemn and meditative to tender and joyful. Instead of letting the holidays drive you crazy, allow this CD to transport you right past the malls and into the season's sacred mystery."
Mary A. Jacobs Dallas Morning News December 17, 2005
"This is what I would call a glorious retread...it is certainly worth it. We are given Gregorian chants corresponding to the Propers of the four masses that comprise the Nativity celebration: roughly, the Vigil Mass (evening before anticipatory in nature), Night Mass (done after the Night Office, reflective), early morning mass (at dawn, probably the most joyous of the four) and the Mass during the day (the most profoundly theological in meaning in terms of the Christmas proclamation). Rounding out the program are eight antiphons in honor of the Virgin Mary, not particularly wedded to the Nativity season, but certainly appropriate, and in practice found to be quite commonly performed during this time.
Readers familiar with my reviews of this ensemble know that I am a big fan, and I find the comprehensive approach, thoughtful dynamic shadings, and generally robust and fully piety-riven performances to be models of their kind. The Schola has done a number of chant recordings, all worth seeking out, and their approach to this music is anything but doctrinaire or dogmatic, ever seeking to breathe new life and a modern freshness into this ancient music that refuses to not speak to contemporary audiences. The pared-down Gregorian melodies are just the thing to allow one to reflect on the original Christmas meaning sans ornaments, decorations, and candy canes, and you might find that this release inspires you to captures anew the spiritual and cultural essence of the season....the sound is terrific."
Steven Ritter Audiophile Audition December 6, 2010
"This recording...is a remarkable success. The music consists of the Mass Propers for the four Masses of Christmas (including the vigil Mass) along with the four final antiphons of the Office in both solemn and simple melodies...Textually, these chants follow the latest edition of the Graduale Romanum, and the final antiphons are taken from the Antiphonale Monasticum, a better edition than the Liber Usualis. As a program it's cohesive, yet it combines familiar chants with the less frequently recorded Vigil and Dawn Masses. About half of the pieces are sung by the men, the rest by the women, with no octave singing; the verses of all the Mass pieces (except for the Offertories) are sung by solo cantors of uniformly high ability. The engineering is expert, favoring clarity. The notes are informative, with texts and translations printed."
J.F. Weber Fanfare November/December 1992
"The propers for four Gregorian masses for Christmas are sung here, plus two sets of antiphons to the Virgin Mary. The singers are led by monastic cantors, and many are themselves monastics. They certainly know and love this music...and alternating men's and women's voices makes a more attractive program than most Gregorian ones."
Donald Vroon American Record Guide November/December 1992
"In this CD, the Gloriae Dei Cantore Schola presents the Gregorian chant Masses of Christmas. There are four such Mases to be sung Christmas Day, each with its own style and sound. The Missam in Vigilia, celebrated before the Night Office; the Missam in Nocte, which occurs at the hour when tradition has it that Jesus was born; the joyful Missam in Aurora, celebrated at dawn; and the daytime Missam in Die. These four solemn Masses are a far cry from more familiar Christmas music; they offer a grave and reverent addition to happy-all-the-time seasonal fare, an alternative to turn to when you're longing for something more soulful and demanding than White Christmas. On the same CD put out by Paraclete Press are antiphons to the Blessed Virgin Mary, appealingly ethereal."
Margot Patterson National Catholic Reporter December 16, 2005
"This disc contains the Propers of the Masses for Christmas Day along with 8 Antiphons to the Blessed Virgin Mary...The Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola is...dedicated to singing Gregorian Chant. They have been singing plainchant regularly since 1976, both the daily Benedictine Monastic Offices and the Ordinary and Proper of the Mass. They sing in an admirably flexible manner with beautiful diction. "
Robert Hugill Music Web International August 2003
"These works explain and proclaim the Mother of Jesus in the Scriptures, in popular devotion and in hymns of praise. Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant begins with an analysis of the Gospel texts on Mary's life, in order to uncover their meaning in the light of the whole of Scripture and the living tradition of the Church...From the written word we move to hymns of praise offered us by the Schola of the Gloriae Dei Cantores, a choir skilled in sacred music of all periods of history, from Gregorian Chant to contemporary choral. On this compact disc, the Schola presents the Gregorian chants that make up the Propers for the four Masses of Christmas, followed by the Marian Antiphons, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Caelorum, Regina Caeli and Salve Regina. All are rendered with a simple grace and elegance."
Spiritual Life Winter 1992
Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola is dedicated to the singing and study of Gregorian chant. Its expertise and experience come from daily chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours as well as the Ordinary and Proper of the Mass at the Church of the Transfiguration. The Schola also conducts chant workshops and performs in concert with Gloriae Dei Cantores. Years of study with the late Dr Mary Berry, CBE, founder of the Schola Gregoriana in Cambridge, England, and the monks of St. Peter's Abbey, Solesmes, France, also contributes to the Schola's passion for Gregorian chant as a vibrant and living form of sung prayer.