Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Project’s “Mystic Chapel” for Christmas


 

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#BlessedRomero #MartyrOfMercy

The latest offering from The Project—the artists that brought us the album “Martyrs’ Prayers” and the standout song (and video) “Romero”—is a new album called “Mystic Chapel.”  I consider this post my Christmas gift to English language readers, and I suggest that the actual CD makes an elegant Christmas (or New Year’s) present for your friends, or just for yourself.
 
One song from the new album, “We Sing With Angels” [audio here] has become an instant holiday staple around my home.  To my mind, “We Sing With Angels” is everything a real Christmas song should be.  Please don’t misunderstand: there are no soft, muffled jingle bells on the track, and the lyrics fail to reference snowmen, reindeer, or—gasp!—shopping.  Instead, the song is a lovely, Spartan snapshot of Mary as she begins her life as Mother of God. 
The solemn but delicate tune has the simplicity of a Medieval canticle, and the melodic plucked guitar style accentuates this effect, leaving one with the impression that one is hearing a timeless Advent hymn—one that may have once been heard in a Cistercian monastery, accompanied by a lute.  The opening lyrics extend the effect: “Lonely in the temple/Life in the holy place/Filled with faith and wisdom/You see the angel’s face.” This cloistered Mary is very much the Queen envisioned by Blessed Oscar Romero, who always liked to emphasize that the young virgin was not a wilting flower, but a prophetess ready to proclaim the Magnificat!
Then the chorus bursts like a blossoming rose:
Holding the Eternal
(We sing with Angels)
Blessed to bear the light
(We sing with Angels)
Virgin without ceasing
(We sing with Angels)
Three stars burning bright
(We sing with Angels)
Note the unapologetic—yet, not over the top—religious and even theological preciseness of the song.  This is a “Merry Christmas” (not “happy holidays”) way to praise the newborn king.  The rest of the album consists of another eight, equally forceful numbers.  Of these, “Holy Father” was another early standout for me, a sweet, loving tribute to God the Father, that would have been as at home on the B-side of the Beatles’ double “White” album as on a Christian rock album such as this.  Listening to it, I imagine that I am at the closing ritual of the Second Vatican Council, where they are unveiling the post-conciliar sequel to the “Veni Creator.”
As we cross through the Holy Door into the Year of Mercy, The Project’s “Mystic Chapel” is the perfect antechamber into the infinite mercy of the Father: “The bread is on the table/Forgiveness is the gift/Evil will not harm us/To thee our hearts we lift.”
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