Top Ten Monks

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The Cistercian monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz Abbey in Austria, have been praying the psalms for 900 years. But lately their prayers have made them famous. Their CD, “Chant: Music for the Soul” (known outside the U.S. as: “Chant: Music for Paradise”) was in the top 10 for two months on Britain’s pop charts, and has sold nearly a million copies worldwide. One blogger writes that she keeps a copy in her car’s CD player to keep her “blowing up” while negotiating Los Angeles traffic).

Recently the monks were featured in an HBO documentary “Top Ten Monks.”

Its ironic that men dedicated to silence and prayer, who withdraw from the world to experience prayer and silence, get more than their share of the “fifteen minutes of fame” so many desire. But they didn’t seek fame; fame sought them.

On February 28th 2008 a London-based friend of the monastery sent an e-mail to Father Karl Wallner, who is in charge of the Abbey’s website. “Quick, Quick, Karl!” it said, and gave him a link to a notice about Universal Music’s search for Gregorian singers.

Father Karl did not take the matter seriously. He hadn’t even heard of Universal and didn’t know what it is. But the following day—the last day of the competition—he sent an apologetic e-mail to Universal with a link to the Gregorian chant samples on their Abbey’s website,

After hearing the samples and watching a clip of Heiligenkreuz on youtube the people at Universal got very excited. And the rest is best selling “Gold” and “Platinum” history. Though the monks didn’t seek their fame, they see it as the hand of God who gave them a unique opportunity to give Him glory. On their website they write, “Since the beginning was so providential we decided to carry on with the project; we have no desire to become music stars; we will remain monks.” And will keep praying the psalms.

For more on the “Top Ten Monks” and their HBO documentary watch

To hear their Gregorian chant:

2 Responses to “Top Ten Monks”

  1. admin says:

    Thanks for the wonderful and tender story about your family.

  2. Fred says:

    Thank you! I loved this post.

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