The Sisters of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey

Monday, August 19, 2013

“Today, young people are drawn to a rich liturgical life which includes the singing of Mass and the Divine Office in Latin, the Church’s traditional language, and Gregorian Chant, its traditional song,” says Sister Mary David. “In the last year and a half, we have been blessed with a Solemn Profession, two First Professions, and two new entrants. Except for the most recent entrant, who is now a novice, all were in their twenties when they entered. One was only nineteen.”
Founded in 1882 in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, St Cecilia’s Abbey belongs to the Benedictine Order, part of the family of houses connected to the famous Abbey of Solesmes, France. The nuns live a traditional monastic life of prayer, work and study in accordance with the ancient Rule of St Benedict. At the heart of their life is the praise of God, expressed through the solemn celebration of the sacred liturgy.

The Sisters maintain ‘the truth of the hours,” singing the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours at the same times which have been kept by the monastic orders since ancient times. For example, the “little hours” (Terce, Sect and None), ‘sanctify the day and are a powerful help in “the return to God” that we make throughout the day,’ according to Sister Mary David.

Ceremony, a strong family spirit and pure contemplation are characteristic of the Solesmes Congregation, founded in 1832 by Dom Prosper Guéranger. For almost two hundred years, Solesmes and its daughter houses have worked to preserve what is called ‘plainchant’ in England and ‘Gregorian chant’ elsewhere.

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