Australian choir’s world-first recording of ancient Catholic prayer

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Dr Andrew Cichy
Dr Andrew Cichy

‘Beauty will save the world.’

An Australian choir director is taking Dostoyevsky at his word with a world-first video recording of Anima Christi by US composer Francis Koerber, recorded at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra.

But beauty isn’t for hoarding, says Australian National University academic and pipe organ specialist Dr Andrew Cichy – a frequent face in Sydney where he advises several parishes on musical matters.

Its redemptive powers should be available to all, he says, something he hopes the ANU Chamber Choir has achieved with the piece, photographed by budding practitioners from the ANU School of Art.

St Christopher’s Cathedral was the perfect setting, Dr Cichy told the Weekly, lauding the home of Catholicism in the area as “one of Canberra’s architectural gems”, with “beautiful stained glass and a beautiful acoustic”.

“We made the music video to demonstrate the important connection between music and art, and to show the way that one transforms the other, giving us more to experience and more to contemplate,” Dr Cichy said.

The Oxford-educated organist came across the composer’s work several years ago and was impressed by the elegant simplicity of his setting of the medieval prayer.

Once thought to have been authored by the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius of Loyola, the Anima Christi has been used by Christians – typically as a post-Communion prayer – for at least 600 years.

The prayer dates from at least 1370 – the year of its first documented mention – and may have been authored by Pope John XXII, who died in 1334.

https://youtu.be/VXSxue64GnY”] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXSxue64GnY

Francis Koerber’s setting of the prayer, which begins “Soul of Christ, be my sanctification”, was originally written for solo voice and organ but was rearranged by Dr Cichy for solo voice and choir.

Dr Cichy was profiled by the ABC earlier this year.