Dearest monks and artists,
Happy Feast of St. Francis! It is an especially appropriate day to announce that today we are launching a series of audio & video podcasts for our Earth Monastery Prayer Cycle. It has long been a dream of mine to create a series of morning and evening prayers for the Abbey of the Arts community, prayers that were inclusive and poetic, that celebrated our kinship to all of creation, that encouraged us to sing and dance.
This Prayer Cycle really came together because of three extraordinary people in my life who all happen to be Wisdom Council members. The first is Betsey Beckman, my dear and much loved friend in Seattle who is a liturgical dancer and dancing spiritual director. She is also married to a musician and has the technical gifts of knowing how to put an album of songs together. Abbey of the Arts now has three song albums produced which companion various books I have written. She is also a gifted dancer and has created a series of DVDs with gesture prayers and dances that accompany all of the songs on our albums. (She just released the most recent DVD of dances for Earth, Our Original Monastery!) Working with Betsey is always a great joy for me and I love her gifts of song and spirited movement that she brings to this creative community.
Second is Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, a talented and soulful musician based in Iowa. Richard’s passion is creating contemporary sung versions of the psalms, which as a monk in the world makes my heart sing. We have worked with Richard for many years now, bringing his music into our retreats and onto our albums, and often commissioning him for a song on a particular theme. I love that I can write to him with a scripture passage, or for the purpose of our new Prayer Cycle, asking him to create a sung introduction to the psalm and a doxology and within a couple of weeks he has produced something beautiful for us.
Third is Simon de Voil, another fabulous musician and minister who spent time living on Iona and now lives in Vermont. I found out about Simon’s music on a trip to Scotland a couple of years ago and ordered from his website directly. I got a lovely email saying he had checked out our website and felt we were kindred spirits which is indeed the case. Simon also has really beautiful and soulful songs and we have commissioned several pieces from him as well including a version of the Canticle of Creation (St. Francis’ prayer) and two adaptations of my own poems into songs.
This dream team did not hesitate to say yes when I invited them to work with me on this project. I did most of the writing and gathering of other people’s writings (special thanks to Polly Burns and Valerie Allen for the beautiful prayers they wrote for this series and to Rev. Christine Robinson who allowed us use of her wonderful psalm interpretations). Our planning team gathered several times on Zoom – connecting Seattle, Iowa, Vermont, and Ireland together – to create this gift for our beloved community.
I also want to acknowledge Simon’s wonderful work creating these audio podcasts (I am sure you will love hearing Simon’s Scottish accent on some of the readings) and Betsey in creating the video podcasts and the way they help guide you through the prayer experiences in such rich and meaningful ways. You might play the audio version to drop inward and pray contemplatively with these materials. You might play the video version to move into a more expressive and embodied place and dance along with Betsey’s gestures and movement prayers. The morning prayers will also all conclude with a beautiful video of my closing blessings created by Travis Reed at The Work of the People (he has so many amazing visual resources) and was the person behind the wonderful video created for my Praise Song for the Pandemic.
Our plan for now is to release one audio and video podcast a week for each of the morning and evening prayers in the 7-day cycle. So for the next 14 weeks you will be receiving these materials as gifts to uplift you and help connect you to Abbey of the Arts in even more meaningful ways.
The audio podcast will be available at Abbey of the Arts as well as on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. The video podcast will be available at Abbey of the Arts as well as on Vimeo.
This is the gateway page for all of our Prayer Cycle resources. You will find the written versions there as well. If you are able to support this work with a donation we would be most grateful! We hope to create more weeks to the prayer cycle in the future and your funds will help us to make that happen in ways that are financially sustainable for all of the artists involved.
We also have developed a Leader’s Resource which is for those of you who would like to use these materials in groups. We do ask that if you are sharing with groups that you help support us by registering for these additional resources. This includes all the teaching videos for Betsey’s dances, all of the blessing videos as stand alone videos in versions both with text and without, the song sheets in case you want to learn the music, and some behind the scenes commentary from Betsey, Richard, Simon, and me.
Please share this free resource with others. Abbey of the Arts grows through word of mouth. We have a vibrant global community of over 10,000 dancing monks and artists because people like you love what we offer and want others to share the experience.
For more on St. Francis, including our dancing monk icon, a poem of mine, and a reflection on the archetype of holy fool, please visit this post from our archives>>
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Video Podcast © Christine Valters Paintner