Ancient order of 13th century nuns turn their hands to music

I knock on the heavy front door of their convent, and as it swings open I see Sisters Clare Rouva, Graca and Gabriel are waiting inside. 

Suddenly they are in demand! The Poor Clares of Arundel, part of an ancient order of nuns founded in the 13th century, spend their days in prayer and contemplation.

The convent in Arundel in Sussex allows visitors seeking a retreat, but of course for the past eight months, the pandemic has meant that has stopped.

Well used to a life of solitude, the lockdown has, other than that, not brought the sisters too much out of the ordinary.

Credit: ITV

But well aware of the terrible hardships many are facing right now, the stresses and demands of life right now, they are hoping an extraordinary venture they agreed to, will offer something in the way of spiritual nourishment and relaxation.

Music producers James Morgan and Juliette Pochin, hearing about the power of the sisters’ music, have now created an album, Light For The World.

The producers recorded the plainchant, the ancient psalms set to music, that are a part of the nuns’s worship, and added some new melodies. 

The sisters may have taken some persuading that their voices were worthy of an album, but they are overjoyed at the positive reaction so far. 

The chants, they feel, bring them closer to God, can bring a sense of calm they hope, and perhaps a chance to meditate amid the noise of modern life. 

Credit: ITV

Few will need convincing of the power of music, particularly over the past eight months, and the sisters maintain they are not seeking the fame or exposure their album is bringing, rather that they want people to share something of their life.

They say proceeds from sales of their album will benefit charities, but seem rather amazed at the prospect of Light For The World becoming a hit. 

I suspect, for now, they are going to have to get used to the limelight.