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Billboard chart-topping order of Benedictine nuns releases new Lent album

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It's a bit reminiscent of the musical nuns singing standards at Nonnberg Abbey in The Sound of Music, with full albums to boot. According to The Washington Post on Sunday, a successful group of singing nuns from an abbey in northwest Missouri have released a new album just in time for Lent.

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles sing together daily at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus in Gower, Mo. abbey, sometimes up to five hours per day as part of their worship rituals. Their collective musical stylings have translated into multiple albums, one of which sent them to the top of Billboard's Traditional Classical Albums chart for 13 weeks last summer. The group also has the distinction of being Billboard's No. 1 Classical Traditional Artist for 2012 and 2013.

On Feb. 11, the nuns released their latest album, Lent at Ephesus, which includes 23 a capella chants and hymns. The 22 women who make up the group, who are reportedly 29 years old on average, hope the new album will "prayerfully accompany you throughout this most sacred season."

“They’re not professional singers,” Matt Abramovitz told the Post about his first experience listening to the group. “They aren’t singing traditional classical repertoire, which is what we normally play, but we gave it a listen, and we were stunned by the quality of the performance and the sincerity."

Abramovitz, who is the program director for New York's classical radio station WQXR, added that the nuns were a hit with the station's audience.

The 2014 Lent season begins March 5 and runs though April 17. Lent at Ephesus, as well as the previous albums, are available for purchase on iTunes and the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles website.

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