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Mesmerising chant from the medieval Pluscarden Abbey

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Mesmerising chant from the medieval Pluscarden Abbey

Ed Scolding

Monks feature on BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 

Pluscarden Abbey features on BBC Four and a BBC Radio 3 series this week, in 'Slow TV' and 'Slow Radio' programmes exploring the deep peace and serenity of the life in the community of monks living in this medieval monastery hidden away in rural Scotland. 

The wordless, daily rhythms of Benedictine monks provided the most relaxing television that the “slow TV” trend has ever managed
— Review in The Times

The BBC Four programme follows a typical day in the life at Pluscarden Abbey, from waking for the first service at 4.15am through to compline, the final service of the day before the monks retire to bed.

The BBC describes the programme: "filmed with an eye to the beauty and peace of the ancient surroundings, the film has a painterly quality that creates a feeling of restfulness and quiet contemplation. And by focusing on the natural sounds of nature and the peace of the abbey we have created a meditative soundtrack that adds to this unique experience.

Beautifully and unobtrusively filmed, this was an exemplar of its type, a universe away from the gratuitous celebrity, gratuitous music and gratuitous editorialising that crowds in on so many other programmes.
— Review in The Independent
 

BBC Radio 3 series

The radio series is made of five 'slow radio' soundscapes, featuring themes from monastic life, including silence, meditation, and prayer. 

"The programmes allow the listener to appreciate life at a monk's pace, reflecting the gentleness and calm of monastic life. Listeners will hear musings from the monks themselves, interspersed with their singing and sounds from the natural world." - BBC

Listen at the BBC website.

 

Music of Pluscarden Abbey monks 

Every day of the year the monks gather and sing together several times, using Gregorian chant in the original Latin. Their intimate understanding and practical application of the music is captured in records remastered and released by Ffin Records.

The recordings have been praised as "flowing and graceful, and never clinical or cold" and as having "a high level of musical as well as spiritual sensitivity."