Listen with the Ear of the Heart

Music and Monastery Life at Weston Priory

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Maria S. Guarino
  • Suffolk, England: 
    University of Rochester Press
    , May
     214 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Far from being a long-silent echo of medieval religion, modern monastery music is instead a resounding, living illustration of the role of music in religious life. Benedictine monks gather for communal prayer upwards of five times per day, every day. Their prayers, called the Divine Office, are almost entirely sung.

Benedictines are famous for Gregorian Chant, but the original folk-inspired music of the monks of Weston Priory in Vermont is among the most familiar in post-Vatican II American Catholicism. Using the ethnomusicological methods of fieldwork and taking inspiration from the monks' own way of encountering the world, this book offers a contemplative engagement with music, prayer, and everyday life. The rich narrative evokes the rhythms of learning among Benedictines to show how monastic ways of being, knowing, and musicking resonate with humanistic inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Maria S. Guarino received her PhD in critical and comparative studies in music from the University of Virginia. She specializes in ethnography, religious life, Benedictine monasticism, and contemplative practices.


Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.