EWTN documentary highlights chart-topping Christmas album from Germany, ‘Sancta Nox’

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA


Seminarians of the FSSP’s International Seminary of St. Peter. / Photo courtesy of Sophia Institute Press.

Denver Newsroom, Dec 23, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

A documentary airing on EWTN this Christmas will bring viewers to a seminary in Bavaria, home to an internationally diverse group of men whose singing recently topped the classical charts.

Sancta Nox: Christmas Matins from Bavaria” is a Christmas album produced by seminarians at the International Seminary of St. Peter, the first seminary set up by the traditionalist Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).

After its release this fall, the 17-song collection topped the Billboard’s Traditional Classical Albums chart.

“We are very surprised and grateful that people have already found this recording, and humbled that they have decided to add this music to the Christmas experience and traditions,” Manuel Vaz Guedes, one of the singers, told CNA in October.

A documentary about the making of the album, also entitled “Sancta Nox: Christmas Matins from Bavaria,” is set to air on EWTN at 2pm ET on Dec. 25, and 10:30am ET Dec. 26.

Matins are part of the Divine Office, which priests and monks pray every day. Recorded in surround sound at the 12th-century St. Magnus Abbey, Bad Schussenried in Germany, the album features mostly Gregorian chant.

Matins of Christmas Day, which are featured in the album, are traditionally said immediately preceding Midnight Mass.

The documentary features sweeping views of the singers and long stretches of beautiful music, punctuated by interviews with the seminarians. Throughout the film, the seminarians talk about their love for music, and Gregorian chant specifically.

The seminary, located in Wigratzbad, Germany, boasts seminarians from nearly 20 nations. Among the nine singers on the album, there are six nations represented, with the average age being 25.

The seminarians recorded the album under the direction of Christopher Alder, a Grammy Award-winning classical music producer and Christian Weigl, a Grammy Award-winning engineer.

The film highlights the importance of the seminarians being “convinced by, and devoted to the religious texts that they’re singing.” The singers stress that they are meditating on the sacred texts and hymns while singing.

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