ARUNDEL, U.K. —
The 23 cloistered nuns of Poor Clares of Arundel in England’s south coast have seen camera gear before. A few years ago, an all-female BBC crew stayed with them for six weeks to document their lives.
For the past week, it’s their record label that’s been dealing with the media. Yes, their record label.
They always enjoyed singing their hymns and medieval texts but never thought they were exceptionally good. Decca Records thought otherwise and as it turns out, they’re not alone.
Recorded on the even of the first lockdown, their album “Light of the World” has topped U.K. music charts, and on one chart, reached #2, behind only The Boss, Bruce Springsteen.
You don’t have to believe in God to appreciate their music. It’s soothing, peaceful and an escape from the relentless stream of bad news.
Throughout the pandemic, people have called the convent to ask for advice on how to deal with the isolation. Sister Gabriel’s advice? She says you can feel lonely even when you’re in a crowd. You have to find something positive, and there is always something positive, she insists.
The “original isolators” as the record label calls them are having an easier time with COVID-19 restrictions than the rest of us: absolutely nothing in their lifestyle has changed. While they can’t accept visitors for the time being, they still wake up at 5:30 a.m. to pray, work and lead life that shocks many, says Sister Geraldine, because of the “radicality of their commitment.”
The hardest part, they say, is not attending family events like baptisms or weddings. Does it get easier with time? The answer is a quick and simple “no” from both Sisters Gabriel & Geraldine.
Their family is each other. They read the newspaper every morning, listen to the radio, and occasionally watch TV when there is a big live news event. The last time Sister Geraldine, who was born in France, watched TV was when the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral was on fire. Netflix is not a word they are familiar with and wine? Yes! Occasionally. They also Skype with loved ones.
The shoot almost over, they fixed their veils and collars, “even nuns like to look smart” quipped Sister Gabriel.