THE SACRED ART OF CHANT: Preparing to Practice

Ana Hernandez, Author . SkyLight Paths $15.99 (162p) ISBN 978-1-59473-036-8

The newest installment in SkyLight Paths' series on sacred practices opens the door, and the mouth, to chanting. The author is a composer and performer of sacred music who also conducts workshops on the subject. All the basics are here: instructions for warm-up through meditations and vocal exercises, 21 straightforward chants and a simple explanation of what happens to the body during chanting, based on Eastern traditions' teaching about body energy. The book cruises religious traditions, since chant is an important practice in the world's religions. Christianity yields taize and liturgical chant; there is mantra chanting, Jewish and Hindu devotional chant and a Zuni sunrise call. Although Hernández writes that "beautiful and fun aren't usually the first words I think about when I think spiritual discipline," this call to practice is indeed inviting. Some may find the author's breezy writing style a little too girlfriendishly casual ("If God were normal, that would be the end of it, right?"), while others will welcome her informal approach to a subject so often associated with high-raftered solemnity. Minimal musical notation is included with the basic chants, which may be useful for those who read music and unintimidating for those who don't. With a helpful bibliography of text, CD and Internet resources, this is a fine cross-traditional introduction for those exploring a profound and ancient practice. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/29/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-59473-482-3
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-1-68336-425-2
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