Her Immaculate Conception

Immaculate ConceptionDominican Chant for the Immaculate Conception
Fr. Innocent Smith, O.P.


On December 8, 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.” Fifty years later, when the Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph established a new house of formation in Washington, D.C., it was dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. For more than a hundred years, the Dominicans of the Priory of the Immaculate Conception have lovingly hailed Mary as their Mother and Patroness, praising her each night with the Salve Regina and celebrating with special solemnity the feast of her Immaculate Conception on December 8.

In the years immediately following the declaration of the dogma in 1854, Dominican friars would have continued to sing the Marian chants from the Common of Saints that date back to the early Middle Ages. In 1863, however, Blessed Pius IX promulgated a new set of texts to highlight the definitive promulgation of the dogma. In response, many musicians throughout the Church composed new mel- odies or adapted earlier chants to set the new texts to appropriate music. The following year, one of the first musical settings of these new texts was published by the French Dominican Pie Bernard (1826– 1899) in the Supplementum ad Cantus Missarum juxta ritum Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum (Mechlin: H. Dessain, 1864). In this publication, Père Bernard adapted chants from the medieval Dominican repertoire to the new texts. In 1890, Père Bernard published a new edition of the Graduale based more closely on the earliest medieval Dominican manuscripts. In this edition, he made slight revisions to some of the chants of the Immaculate Conception and provided newly composed settings for the Al- leluia and Offertory chants as well as a setting of the Communion chant based on a medieval melody.

In this recording, the Schola Cantorum of the the Priory of the Immaculate Conception sings the medieval chants of the Blessed Virgin Mary used by Dominicans for this feast prior to 1863 as well as the chants published by Pie Bernard in 1890. In addition, this recording includes some of the Marian chants sung by Dominicans in the celebration of Compline, the Night Office of the Church. This re- cording is dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, who is our life, our sweetness, and our hope.

You can purchase a copy of Ave Maria: Dominican Chant for the Immaculate Conception here.

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