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Eash to talk on music and life among the Benedictines

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College professor of music William Eash will speak about his experiences living with French Benedictines and studying Gregorian chant at the fourth annual Faculty Public Lecture sponsored by the Bethel College Women’s Association.

The lecture will be held on Thursday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center on the Bethel College campus. Members of the BCWA will serve refreshments in the art gallery area afterward. The event is free and open to the public.

Eash, director of the college’s vocal ensembles, lived for two months at the abbey of Solesmes near the city of Sablé sur Sarthe in western France during a sabbatical in the spring semester of 2006. His purpose was to study Gregorian chant, but also to experience the atmosphere of the Benedictine lifestyle.

“Benedictine monasteries are set up with the provision to welcome guests, on the theological basis that Christ could return at any time, and he could be anyone,” said Eash.

Eash lived according to the strict schedule set by the monastery, including designated times for praise, meditation, conversation, food and study. He observed that the required discipline made him more productive in his use of time and that the times of silence “opened [his] eyes to the other senses.”

“The Benedictines would always say, ‘We pray and we wait,’” Eash said. “What I’ve learned is that no matter how we view the day, we begin again tomorrow.”

His newly acquired knowledge of Gregorian chant has enabled Eash to give each of his vocal ensembles the opportunity to sing in that style. Last fall, Eash spoke about his sabbatical experience in what many regarded as one of the best Bethel convocations of the year.

The BCWA Faculty Public Lecture award is open to any Bethel College professor and carries with it a $1,000 stipend, with $200 going to the faculty member and the remainder to his/her department to be used at that department’s discretion. Last year’s winner was Jon Piper, professor of biology.

For more information, contact Jeanne Schmidt, BCWA president, at rcjmschmidt@juno.com or 316-799-2276.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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