I just received a pre-release copy of O Day of Resurrection, the Liturgy of the House for Sunday, sung by the Benedictines of New Camaodoli hermitage.
I listened to most of it last night and the rest this morning. It includes Vigils, Lauds, Vespers, and Night Prayer. The readings are left out of this recording, as are the intercessions (assuming the monastic office even has intercessions? I really don't know) Everything else is there, and all is sung/chanted.
As I mentioned above, this is the monastic version of the Liturgy of the Hours, so it's a bit different from our breviary, which was designed for parish clergy, active religious, and lay people. So, for example, lauds and vespers have 3 psalms plus canticle, rather than 2 psalms. Also, each hour ends with a "troparion" which is more or less the same thing as an antiphon. The dictionary tells me that this troparion is meant to set the liturgical theme or mood for the rest of the day. Or maybe for the rest of the time until the next hour with its own troparion is said.
These hours are done entirely in English, with the exception of the Salve Regina at the end of Night Prayer, which is in Latin. The chant is sometimes Gregorian style (adapted for English) and sometimes Byzantine chant, which is in four (or more) part harmony. I especially liked the Our Father, which was adapted from a setting by Rimsky-Korsakov. The chanting is beautiful. Great music, clearly enunciated so that you can understand the words. And its a pleasure to hear all males voices. You hear much of that in a typical parish church. And if there's no monastery in your area--with a decent cohort of musically talented monks living there--audio recordings are the only way to experience this very beautiful and masculine beauty.
...which is why one and only one aspect of this recording annoyed me somewhat. The psalms and canticles used were one of those "inclusive" translations which goes out of its way to avoid masculine nouns and pronouns. So instead of:
Let the sons of Israel say: his love endures forever.
Let the sons of Aaron say: his love endures forever.
the monks instead say:
Let the family of Israel say: God's love endures forever.
Let the family of Aaron say: God's love endures forever.
If you don't find this kind of thing tedious and irritating, good for you. There are historical and theological reasons why it bothers me, but I don't have to drag that up here. There are plenty of places on the internet giving reasoned arguments pro and con for inclusive language, so look them up and make up your own minds.
All in all, this is a very nice recording. It will give those of us who mostly recite the hours at home, privately or at most with one or two people a better sense of the Liturgy of the Hours as the public worship of the body of Christ, and will maybe inspire with the ideal of singing as a way to enhance, nay,to complete what we are doing when we pray it.
And do check out this video for sample of the monk's music and a peep at their home in Big Sur, California.