One group of Benedictine monks discovered an unexpected benefit from their Gregorian chants: their chanting seemed to energize their bodies.
In 1967 Alfred Tomatis, a French physician, psychologist and ear specialist, studied how chanting affected the Benedictine monks.
For hundreds of years they had kept a rigorous schedule, sleeping only a few hours a night and chanting from six to eight hours a day.
When a new abbot changed the schedule and cut out the chanting, the monks became tired and lethargic. The more sleep they got, the more tired they seemed to become. Tomatis was called in to find out what was wrong with them.
He believed that chanting (and listening to certain kinds of music) served a special purpose—energizing the brain and body. He said the monks “had been chanting in order to ‘charge’ themselves.”1
He reintroduced chanting, along with a program of listening to stimulating sounds, and the monks soon found the energy to return to their normal schedule.
Whether the monks knew it or not, they had discovered the power of sound, especially spoken or chanted prayer.