Here’s “Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” possibly their only crafted music video.
That is just fantastic. The band’s name comes from the music they play (hillbilly) coupled with the great saint of the Dominicans, St. Thomas Aquinas. They explain where they came up with the name in this little clip.
The Hillbilly Thomists have been featured in a number of Catholic media. Dominicana, the journal of the Dominican student brothers of the St. Joseph Province of the Order of Preachers tells how the group went from sacred music they went to roots music.
After four albums of sacred choral music, the Dominican brothers have tuned their banjos and turned their attention to Americana folk and bluegrass. Their hope: to spread the joy of the gospel through the joy of music.
Traditional bluegrass music is playful and energetic; along with American folk music, it often contains explicitly theological themes: belief in Christ, the goodness of life, the pain of unrequited love, the finality of death, and hope in eternal life. It is a traditional southern form of testimony to the presence of grace in the human heart.
Brad Minor at The Catholic Thing espouses the countercultural appeal of the brothers.
So enter these Dominican friars, not one of whom would likely make it through a first audition on American Idol, which is what makes Hillbilly Thomists so satisfying.
There are mostly standards here, including “Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” “Amazing Grace,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” and the aforementioned “Angel Band.”
Two priests, eight brothers, and twelve songs in all.
Back to more songs. Here’s one of my favorites, “To Canaan’s Land.”
And finally, let me give you my absolute favorite on the album, “What Wondrous Love is This.”
If you love American folk music and if you’re Christian, I really think you would love this album. Victor #2, who comments here every so often I think would love this album. It would make a great Christmas gift for someone. You can purchase it from the Hillbilly Thomists’ website. (Last time I checked the CD there was cheaper than at Amazon.) Proceeds go toward supporting the Dominican friars.