Thursday 25 May 2006

For the love of God (3): Why I love Sister Marie Keyrouz

A guest-post by Kevin P. Edgecomb

There is intellectual theology, producing writings, but there is also experiential theology, producing prayer. One such experiential theologian is Sister Marie Keyrouz of the Order of the Sisters of Basil, a Byzantine Catholic order. Born and raised in Lebanon and gifted with a beautiful voice, Sister Keyrouz lives the words of a saying of St Basil: “When you sing, you’re praying twice.” Her faith is magnificently apparent in her singing, especially in those instances employing the extemporization of certain traditional Arabic forms of music. Theological words become prayer soaring ever higher on wings of faith, and when they are given such an expressive voice for their medium, one might be truly enchanted, truly inspired.

Sister Keyrouz is partially responsible for my own journey East, just as St Basil is, as well as others. Upon hearing her voice for the first time, I gasped, completely captured by its beauty. Listening further, I marvelled to learn that such faith was possible, and I determined to repent, and, if possible, to have such a faith too. After several storm-tossed years, I was finally able to say, as Yeats wrote:

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

This is not the same safe harbor that Sister Keyrouz found, or that many of you reading this will have found. Sister Keyrouz was, however, a lighthouse on a headland along my tempestuous journey Home, and I thank her for her light.


Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Oops. That should say Yeats. As in William Butler. Lapsis typae, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

well written, it makes me what to learn/hear more. also, well placed after von balthasar. was that intentional ben?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kevin, for exposing a gap in my "Who's Who in Christianity" - and for beginning to fill it.

By the way, given what you say about Sister Keyrouz's music, Keats would have been just fine:

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Ben Myers said...

Sorry, I've fixed the Keats/Yeats confusion -- as a Yeats fan, I should have spotted this myself!

Reading a little about Sister Keyrouz, I'm astounded at the scope of her studies. Apart from anything else, she must be one of the most scholarly of all singers!

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

She's definitely amazing. She's appeared on some of the recordings of Ensemble Organum, also on Harmonia Mundi, which does all early music, including some absolutely amazing pre-Gregorian Roman Chant. She's on the Milanese one, and I think another (I can't recall which) which I don't have. All their stuff is great too.

It's funny about the Keats/Yeats slip. Keats was on my mind! I've just gotten a lovely little 1934 leatherbound copy of his poetry.

Anonymous said...

I've listened to the handful tracks by Sr. Marie on the CD Vox Sacra (on Harmonia Mundi). I really should have gotten more of her records long ago.

Harmonia Mundi is by far my favorite classical label. Phillipe Herreweghe's ouevre is astounding, especially his Bach Mass in B Minor and his Mozart Requiem. Sadly, Harmonia Mundi recordings always seem to sell out and fall out of print.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Ben, I've posted something I almost sent to you, on The Three Theologians in Eastern Orthodoxy. I didn't think it had enough of the personal element. But some folks might enjoy it anyway!

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