‘This Music Is Truly a Prayer’: LA Carmelites Sing Beloved Hymns of Adoration
The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles have released a new CD.
The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles have recorded a CD perfectly timed for the Eucharistic Revival in the United States: Adoration From Carmel: Eucharistic Hymns From the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.
The sisters sing such selections as Domine non sum dingus (“Lord, I am not worthy”), O Sacrament Most Holy, Let All Mortal Flesh, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Font of Love, Soul of My Savior and Panis Angelicus (“Bread of Angels”).
Sister Gianna Heinemann, the community’s music director, composed many of the music arrangements for this recording that the sisters sing both a cappella and with a chamber ensemble. Sister Gianna was interviewed about the Eucharistic album and her vocation by the Register via email.
Why did the sisters decide to make this album, and where was this beautiful album recorded?
A few years ago, our sisters were leading the singing for a Eucharistic procession during a Catholic conference up in Napa, California. Charlie McKinney from Sophia Press was present and was moved by our singing and approached us regarding an album. We were delighted to record songs around the theme of Eucharistic hymns, especially since our U.S. bishops have called us to a three-year National Eucharistic Revival. We sisters were also delighted because they wanted to do the recording in our beautiful, resonant St. Joseph Chapel in Duarte, California.
Why do people find this style of singing so appealing — especially from a community that lives this music and the lyrics that go with it?
This music is truly a prayer and not a performance. As you might imagine, singing on a stage is not our preference, but it’s another one of the ways God is using us to touch souls. Singing is praying twice [as St. Augustine said], and that’s how we see it. We pray [that] this style of singing draws people into peace and feeling closer to God. As our foundress, Venerable Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, says, “Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament wants to be your Confidant, your Friend, your Consoler. He wants to fill your soul with His Love.”
What is your background with music?
I began at age 8, with piano lessons from our church organist, who really imparted a love of music to me, especially music of worship of God. I also studied flute and some organ. Only in the convent have I discovered a God-given gift of vocal arrangement and composition. I love writing music with my sisters’ unity of voice in mind and what will bring beauty and draw souls to the Lord.
How did your community choose the songs you recorded?
We were asked to choose traditional hymns that are familiar to many. So we went down the list of the many Eucharistic hymns that we sing often in our daily life and tried to choose a nice balance of old, new, chant, contemporary, English, Latin, orchestral and a cappella. Many are used to a mixed genre of music, as our past albums reflect this mix. We see it as a myriad of ways to connect with whoever might chance upon our music.
What makes Adoration From Carmel: Eucharistic Hymns so distinct?
What you hear on this CD is quite ordinary for us, though, for the listener, it would be extraordinary, in that many do not usually have an open ear to our regular rhythm of life, which includes singing throughout our times of prayer. Often, it’s in the ordinary that we experience the extraordinary. We are inviting you to step inside our chapel and listen and join your hearts to ours that vibrate in praise and worship of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Even the soft jingling of our rosary beads adds to the flavor of what you’d hear!
What was it like to work with classical producer Brad Michel, who has won multiple Grammys?
Brad Michel was a joy to work with and had a stamina and simple, humble way about him that made the two full recording days so easy and enjoyable.
Please share a little of your vocation story. How and why did you choose to become a sister here?
I chose to become a sister because of the Lord’s invitation, first and foremost, an interior call that I heard at World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany. This was the first time I saw young, vibrant, joyful sisters in all different colors of the holy habit, and their life baffled me at the same time that it attracted something deep within me to belong totally to Jesus and become his spouse and mother of souls. God called me to Los Angeles to our Carmelite community, and I am blessed to have made my final profession of vows in 2019.
What are the sisters’ hopes for this album, in how it will affect listeners, promote Eucharistic adoration and increase Eucharistic reverence?
We truly hope this album is an offering for the fueling of what God is doing with the National Eucharistic Revival in our country. May it be one more way for souls to find their ultimate purpose and receive the love the Father has for them.
How will the proceeds help your community?
All proceeds from this project support our mission, which is to accompany souls in their encounter with the personal love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus through our work in education, retreats and eldercare.
Do you have any plans for another album?
We will see what the Holy Spirit has in mind! He is the writer, director and producer of all our music projects, our “side” hobby, as we say, for our primary apostolate is the witness of our consecrated life and our service to the Church.
Adoration From Carmel is available from EWTN Religious Catalogue at EWTNRC.com or (800) 854-6316 (Item: 653CD, $16.95).
Editor’s Note: The previously incorrect link to EWTN Religious Catalogue has been amended. The Register regrets the error.
- Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
- national eucharistic revival
- eucharistic revival
- sacred song
- eucharistic hymns
- eucharistic adoration
- blessed sacrament