The Angelsí Song


It was dark. It was cold. It was Christmas eve, 1996. The Abbey Church was a black blob in the midst of the debris that had been dragged from its deep recesses. It had been over six months since the voices of the monks had been heard within it. A whispering band of shadows moved across the path from the Archabbey entrance to the church. It was a covey of romantic monks who wanted to sing the angels' song in the Abbey Church on this Christmas night in the year we were exiled from its walls. We stood, the eight to ten of us who were there, in the plank covered passageway under the choir. A nervous flashlight was the only light we had. With faces turned up to try to fill the upper spaces, we entoned the lovely melody of the Angels' Song, Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bone voluntatis. The melody, by the way, is presumed to have come from Einsiedeln. Copies were lost in the fire in 1887. The story is that Fr. Anselm Maier,O.S.B wrote down the melody from memory. In any case, the song has been sung in the monastery corridors by members of the schola each Christmas since.

It would be nice to report that the sound reverberated beautifully off the walls of the church. The truth is, the sound was swallowed up by a giant fan that blew hot air with a mighty roar. It was the thought that counted. The little group moved back to the monastery, not exactly elated, but happy for the romantic effort, made in the cold, dark night of Christmas, to praise God in the sacred space so important to their lives as monks.

Copyright © 2003 Saint Meinrad Archabbey