Aleteia

The Sister Servants of the Eternal Word sing “I’ll Fly Away”

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A hopeful hymn with fantastic bluegrass flair.

The Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, based in Birmingham, Alabama, are a contemplative-active community of nuns who are committed to evangelization through catechesis and retreats. Unfortunately, their Casa Maria Retreat House hasn’t had many visitors since the onset of the world pandemic, but now they’ve recorded a song to let their visitors, both past and future, know that they are thinking of them.

They said during the song’s introduction:

“Hi everybody, we’re the Sister Servants from Birmingham, Alabama. We miss being with you in person, but we hope y’all enjoy our little musical entry.

“I’ll Fly Away” is an early 20th-century hymn that crossed over to become quite popular with secular country and bluegrass audiences when it was featured on the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a film by the Coen Brothers that was steeped in Southern Christian music. It is one of the most recorded hymns of all time and artists have arranged it in a variety of genres.

The Sister Servants give us a straight bluegrass arrangement and we loved it all the way through. Their voices blend perfectly between the two voice parts of the song and their choice of accompanying instruments (guitar, mandolin, and violin) reminded us of the Hillbilly Thomists, another folk musical act to arise from a religious order.

The sisters did not name each member of the band, but we would like to give a shout-out to the fiddle player, who stole the show. Her deftly performed violin solos between verses brought the whole sound to completion, and she even displayed a Nashville-worthy skill: she was singing while playing violin, which is no mean feat.

We are grateful to The Sister Servants for sharing with us their beautiful music, and we hope that coronavirus restrictions ease soon to allow them to resume their important evangelical mission. For more information on the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, visit their website here.

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