Archive Treasures: The Sound of Music

A Handmaid Diamond Jubilee, News


1967 sing a long to the accompaniment of Handmaids on the violin and accordion.

What is the sound of music like in a monastery and how has it changed over the last 75 years? Well, since the start Handmaids have been making ‘a joyful noise for the Lord’. In addition to whatever voices they had, our first pioneering Sisters had a pump organ. Women who came to the community, if they were musicians or could play some instruments, would use their skills whether it was organ, piano, violin, flute, recorder, or even an accordian. While the Divine Office was chanted recto-tono (all on one note) in English, over time singing was added for some feasts and solemnities. In the archives is an old ledger transformed into a divine office music book, typed on paper with the notes manually written in in ink. Holy Poverty had the enterprising music Sister use anything she could find for a binder and the 4 ringed ledger is stamped with an ad suggesting you can order more by calling their phone number, “Mulberry 5-3000”. It may be old but its a beautiful relic reminding us of the beautiful singing of the voices and hearts of the Handmaids that went before us.