Gorgeous harmonies, reflective chants, praise music and spiritual connection — the CD “Lean into the Wind” from the Carmelite Sisters of the San Gabriel Valley is the latest venture from the religious community perhaps better known for their teaching, nurturing and nursing.
The sisters recorded their first musical offerings 17 years ago, accompanying themselves on instruments. This year, assisted by Tom Weir of Studio City Sound, they teamed with professional musicians for a very polished sound in this, their seventh release, spearheaded by Carmelite Sister Mary Scholastica. The sisters wrote 12 of the 14 selections.
For the first time, the sisters’ CD will be available on Amazon and iTunes. “We have heard from people who have downloaded it and they tell us how much they enjoy it,” says Carmelite Sister Timothy Marie, community spokesperson. “We see the music as a gift to the world.”
Indeed, the songs come from the sisters’ deep souls; many composed melodies and lyrics during or after a silent prayer retreat. That reflective time, says Sister Timothy Marie, can unlock creativity, vision and music.
Many women who are joining the Carmelite community, in fact, come with a sense of musicality whether they are singers, songwriters, musicians or all of the above.
Being in a religious community doesn’t mean the sisters aren’t challenged with their day-to-day work. “We take care of people through their whole life span,” Sister Timothy Marie explains pointing to the Little Flower Educational Child Center (as young as six weeks old), the Sacred Heart Retreat Center (all ages), and Santa Teresita (assisted living for elderly).
Recording the CD, therefore, was a piecemeal process since the sisters had to find time around their different schedules and duties. Recording sessions on nights and Saturdays were necessary to complete the CD.
The selections from “Lean into the Wind” run the gamut: “Smile” has a soft rock and roll touch while “I’m Ready” is an upbeat meditation. Sister Timothy Marie is pleased that the CD includes the powerful chant “Gloria” from the Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, part of the Mass setting composed by Sister Mary Scholastica.
The Carmelite life of prayer and service combines a monastic approach with outreach to the community, offering peace and hope. “Look at the word Carmelite,” says Sister Timothy Marie. “It has the word ‘lite’ or ‘light’ in it, so we see ourselves as letting our light shine to the world.”
Music is one means of making that happen.
“All people go through hard times, days of testing and a longing for peace,” says Sister Timothy Marie. “Music touches the soul and can bring you out of the depths. People don’t want to hear music that’s too preachy, but inspiring. With this CD, we are putting our mission to music.”
All the proceeds from the sale of “Lean into the Wind” support Carmelite apostolates in healthcare, education and retreats. CDs are $15 or 4 CDs for $40. To purchase via Amazon or iTunes, visit www.leanintothewind.com.