Hymns from the Desert

Earlier this Autumn, Alana Levanandoski spent two days in the All Saints Church building, recording a new six song project entitled Hymns from the Desert. With the church space acting as both an acoustic and spiritual setting, this recording includes a song that is fast becoming a saint ben’s standard: Felix Culpa (“He who watches over you, Will never slumber nor sleep”). What follows here are Alana’s own reflections around how and why this project came to be.

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rom a little cottage with no hot water, and with an acceptance that I was in a “wilderness” season, my latest project, Hymns from the Desert emerged from the ashes of a former life. Two of the songs – “When I Go” and “Easter Eve” – were written within the saint benedict’s table Good Friday context in the past two years.  “Hymn from the Desert” was written from what I began to call my “cell” in the little wilderness cottage. “Felix Culpa” was also written within the context of preparing for a service at saint benedict’s table at a time when I was under great personal duress.

The story behind how Hymns was recorded is in keeping with this desert theme. With Agape Table serving breakfast down the hall, with civil city buses rumbling outside, kiddy corner to the legislature building, down the street from a notorious “massage parlour”, my friend Murray Pulver and I recorded these tunes in the sanctuary at All Saints, in the space where the musicians sit to lead worship on Sunday evenings. I invited Larry Campbell, Steve Bell and Gord Johnson to sing on Felix Culpa (He Who Watches Over You), and having them show up that afternoon each with their own unique way, was a blessing.

On the whole, this project represents a shift in thinking, but more importantly, in being. I was blessed with being stripped of almost everything this year and what thankfully rises from these ashes, is my choice to remain God’s. This project was anointed with oil, blessed and prayed over and is the first of hopefully many expressions of gratitude, contemplation and story, to come.

I told a wise man recently, “I’ve got a Good Friday song, a Holy Saturday song, but can’t seem to bring myself to write an Easter song”. He responded by saying with a smile, “you’ll have to live your way there.”

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Hymns from the Desert will be available at saint benedict’s table for $10. However, Alana has a very interesting music project coming up late spring 2011, where she will be driving from Newfoundland to Louisiana in quest of foundational music. If you are interested in helping the project, feel free to search your souls to buy the EP for more than what she is asking. Alana is also looking for someone to loan a reliable trailer or camper van for this project.

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