Sunday, 19 November 2006

An Ancient Muse (Te Deum laudamus ...)


The glorious Loreena McKennitt has released another album. It is designated An Ancient Muse, and is due for release soon in South Africa. I must confess I have already obtained a flagrantly illegal copy from a friend off of the seemingly limitless Internet. I confess so brazenly since I intend resolutely to purchase the CD upon its release. I implore any who might have downloaded Loreena McKennitt tracks on their devices to do the same, since her booklets are almost as much a delight as her music itself. Were it not for her writings therein, I would hardly have become quite so interested in Sufi spirituality (cf. the track Marco Polo on The Book of the Secrets), mysticism (cf. the rendition of St John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul on The Mask & the Mirror), and monasticism (cf. Skelling & Full Circle on the same album).

Regarding the new album itself, it has a distinct Middle-Eastern feel, and I look forward to discovering what characteristically extensive travels of spirit and body she undertook as inspiration for this album. I gasped when I saw the title of the fifth track: Kecharitomene. Amidst the loud surprise of the Scriptural Hellenists, let me explain to those who do not know: κεχαριτομένη (or kecharitomené) translates to 'she who has been graced'. More specifically, it is the epochal title given to a peculiar peasant girl in Nazareth when the Archangel Gabriel visited her with such strange news. The Latin is, of course, gratia plena
Speculation about Loreena McKennitt's faith is likely to be fruitless, since she has not been forthcoming with any labels. Her musical tracks led me to believe that she is of indistinct religion, with a vivid mystic spirituality. I doubt she is of Neo-Pagan profession, as some have made her out to be, and I doubt also that she is Catholic, as others have wished to conclude from her rendition of the Dark Night of the Mystical Doctor. The question is, in any case, not of terrible consequence, not least to us who serve the One to Whom All Beauty and Truth belongs. But nonetheless, the use of the Blessed Virgin's title is surprising ...

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