Singing Together as Community   Leave a comment

Here’s a short excerpt from a wonderful interview by Terry Gross of NPR. What he says about singing is so on target! I’ve made those parts bold…


If you’re just joining us, my guest is Henry Quinson. He’s a monk who used to be a currency trader. He is the monastic adviser for the new film “Of Gods and Men,” which won the Grand Prix, the second-highest prize, at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. And it’s based on the story of French monks in Algeria who worked with poor people in a rural Algerian village. Seven of the monks were kidnapped in the monastery by Islamic extremists in 1996, and were later beheaded.

So you spent six years in a monastery in which the monks were expected to spend a lot of the day in silence. But about four hours a day were spent singing as a group, singing hymns and spiritual songs. What is the importance of singing in that order?


Yeah. Four hours is a lot. Some people told me that people who – singers, professional singers do not actually sing four hours a day. Something like – I think it’s 15 percent of the words that you can actually hear in that movie are songs. So I think it’s an experience, a human experience – not necessarily a religious one, but a human experience that people can actually share in, that if you sing together, there’s a harmony, there’s a unity that is physical. I mean, you are actually breathing together. And so a community is going to be stronger if every day, you’re able to sing together. Of course, in the case of monastic life, singing together is also a prayer. But the fact is that it’s at the same time, a human experience. Singing together is a human experience and the same time, it’s sharing in what really brings you together. And that’s, I think, one of the major points, both in the real life of the monks of Tibhirine and also in the movie.

The full interview is at :

Posted March 21, 2011 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

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