Bemusterung: Die Priester
"Music opens Heaven's door, and that is exactly what these heartfelt songs want to achieve. Songs as prayers and prayers as songs, expressed as hymns, psalms and melodies. The often repeated call to God confers mystical dimensions onto these songs, an inkling of the glory of the Heavens." (Die Priester, August 2012)
Die Priester – How it all began
In 2011, the music enthusiast Abbot Primate Dr Notker Wolf in Rome and the Cistercian monk Karl Wallner at the monastery Stift Heiligenkreuz had an idea: using modern music that nonetheless is aware of its roots in Church tradition to tell others about God. The aim was a modern, a different approach, both musically and in terms of the lyrics. Looking for suitable singers and personalities, they quickly came across Father Vianney Meister, Abbot Rhabanus Petri and diocesan priest from Vienna Andreas Schätzle. Three priests whose everyday lives are marked by prayer and church work and whose hearts beat for music and singing. And the music project "Die Priester" was born!
Today, more than 100,000 CDs sold and sold out church tours demonstrate that the public received this kind of spiritual pop music with great enthusiasm. The project's proceeds are donated to charity. 50 cent from each CD of the album "Spiritus Dei" sold was used in aid of orphaned children at the Mazizi Village – Bagamoyo in Tanzania. Currently, 79 children are living there in a miserable asylum in Dar Es Salaam. The money will now help them and an additional 60 children in their environment - including orphans, children living on the street, girls forced to work as prostitutes and AIDS victims.
Rex Gloriae – the King of Glory
This positive resonance and the priests’ enjoyment of music inspired and motivated them to return to the studio this year in order to record a new album together with producer Thorsten Brötzmann. The title is "Rex Gloriae" - and it bravely moves ahead this innovative musical concept embedded in church tradition. Sacred songs and works take turns with more secular tunes, and "Rex Gloriae" again creates its very own style - both archaic and modern, in German and in Latin.
Conceptually, this album presents a more mystical, religious side than its predecessor "Spiritus Dei". Die Priester's music penetrates both the head and the heart, gives solace and confidence, offers divine symbolism. It is based on 1,200 years of musical history, complex polyrhythms meeting rising Gregorian chants and powerful Orff-like sound constructions encountering modern dance beats. Audacious combinations that are entirely new to our ears, and yet in no way too much!
Compositions like a prayer
"We have devised and composed music and songs whose aim is to lead listeners to God like a prayer, conveying the contemplative and mystical side of Christian liturgy and ideas," Father Vianney explains the new album's motif. "Rex gloriae - this sovereign title is mentioned in Psalm 24. The author calls God the King of Glory, who wants to find His way into the City of Jerusalem. And Rex gloriae also wants to find His way to us."
The work opens with the orchestral title song "O Tu Rex Gloriae". Using the tune from the well-known wind section motif of Dvorak's "Symphony of the New World" as a powerful choral passage, it strikingly quotes the famous Psalm 23 to symbolise the entrance of Jesus Christ into people's hearts in a forceful marching rhythm. After this moving orchestral overture, the album's music mystically, floatingly turns into a well-known medieval choir song, "Ave Maris Stella" from the 8th century, expressing adoration of the Virgin Mary. With the help of star soprano Mojca Erdmann, this song works up to true heights bar by bar, dissolving in a vastness of contemplation towards its end.
"Rex Gloriae" can again boast many surprising style combinations: from the personal religious Latin lyrics to the German song "Über sieben Brücken musst du gehen" (in Latin: "Mea Vita") to the monumental version of "Monastery of La Rábida" taken from the film soundtrack of "1492 – Conquest of Paradise", which, under its Latin title "Domine", deals with the Benedictines' professed formula. It is worth taking a closer look at the album's contents, because not infrequently, they reveal a glimpse of everyday monastic life with its fixed rites.
This musical mixture of tradition and modernism is rounded off with the beautiful recessional hymn "Adoro Te Devote" with lyrics by Thomas Aquinas from the 13th century. In his verse, Thomas Aquinas reveals the secret deeper sense of the Eucharist. The Eucharist's liturgical celebration is the repetition of the Last Supper of Jesus and his followers before his arrest and crucifixion. It deals with the realisation without bloodshed of Jesus' sacrifice. Only those who take the broken bread into their bodies can perceive with all their senses Jesus in his might. It deals with the general commitment to God and to His incarnate son Jesus Christ.
Songs to the glory of God alone
"The songs on our new CD want to open hearts, allowing God to arrive," is how the priests explain their musical world. And anyone interested in a-thousand-year-old Church music even today cannot help but discover these or similar reasons. Just like Bach used to write under his compositions: the music is written "to the glory of God alone". Anyone who has spent even a few days at a monastery will know that there is no place where this credo is lived any more deeply and honestly than in the world of brotherly togetherness in the belief in the one God...
Video "Making of Ave Maris Stella"
Video "Care Project Mazizi Village – Bagamoyo" in Tansania"
The priests in person
Abbot Rhabanus Petri
Abbot Rhabanus Petri has been living at the Schweiklberg monastery in Vilshofen on the Danube since June 2007. The abbot's tasks not only comprise spiritual leadership of the community. They also include keeping an eye on the monastery's many tasks, such as marketing the drink Schweiklberger Geist, the secondary school (Realschule) and its workshops. Abbot Rhabanus plays the organ and the tuba and in "Die Priester" sings the second voice and backings. He entered the novitiate of the Upper Bavarian archabbey St. Ottilien in 1982 and studied theology at the Cistercian higher education school Heiligenkreuz near Vienna and in the Swiss Fribourg. The abbot's motto is: "Porta patet – magis cor." The door is open - more so the heart. And his heart is open. He laughs a lot and is a cheerful person. You can feel this cheerfulness when he says: "I live for singing."
Benedictine Father Vianney Meister
Father Vianney Meister is the chief cantor at the monks' choir in St. Ottilien, and as an experienced chorister has performed Gregorian chorals in many concerts and has recorded several CDs. He plays the trumpet, the tuba and the guitar. He is the head of the monastery's boarding school and especially helps students when studying Latin. His easygoing, joyful and optimistic manner inspires the children and his two singing partners alike. "For me, our CD is a sung prayer," he comments on the project, wishing to make God and church life more accessible and also to offer solace in difficult times. "Anyone appreciating music obtains a great treasure! For me, the great composers' tunes and the words sung on this CD reflect something of the heavens' treasures."
Diocesan priest Andreas Schätzle
Andreas Schätzle is a German priest in Vienna and has been involved in much youth work, including as part of his Loretto community, a young church movement. Music is also very central to his life: He studied music in Mainz and in Vienna, and plays the trumpet, the guitar and the piano. He has been writing his own songs for many years. As a result, his appointment as the program director of the Christian radio channel Radio Maria Austria was a logical consequence to the delight of many. He comments: "A program is good if it moves hearts and offers people real nourishment for their lives." It is important for him to use music to spark joy in people, describing his motivation for the album thus: "Life means encounters - encounters which are excitingly expressed in these songs. Our music aims at finding new ways for people today to encounter God."
The album "Rex Gloriae" (Order no. CD 3711350) will be on sale from September 28, 2012. You can find more pictures and information on www.journalistenlounge.de.
Video "Spiritus Dei"
Das Debüt-Album „DIE PRIESTER - SPIRITUS DEI“ (VÖ: 21.10.2011) wurde mit Gold ausgezeichnet und war über 20 Wochen in den Charts. Im Frühjahr 2012 gingen DIE PRIESTER mit diesem Programm erstmals auf Kirchentournee – ausverkauft.
Promotion Management: Heiner Peschmann (Heiner.Peschmann@umusic.com)
Press: Stefan Kahé (Stefan.Kahe@kaheprdialog-home.de)
Online: Florian Grimmer (Florian.Grimmer@umusic.com)