The Dominican Rite, both for the Mass and Office is famous for its stability and resistance to liturgical changes. And, at least for the text of the Mass, this is certainly true. The Office, however, after resisting many changes affecting
|Elevation at the Solemn Mass (Star of the Sea Church, SF 2015)|
My recent historical work on the history of the Dominican lay brothers (today called "cooperator brothers"), included reading through the nine volumes of Acta of the Dominican General Chapters from 1220 to 1843. As I was doing this, I noted the legislation that reformed or modified the liturgy. Here are the major reforms.
For me, the most suggestive piece of legislation was not directly liturgical, but involved the preparation of priests. In 1345, the General Chapter at Manresa, required that the prior of the local priory (priestly formation was the responsibility of each priory in those days) make sure that any friar to be ordained "understand the Canon of the Mass from the Te igitur to the Pater noster. Ignorance of the meaning of the Latin was such a problem that neither subpriors or vicars were allowed to make this decision. But now on to liturgical changes.
Today some of the most controversial issues for Catholics in church involve how to show respect to the altar, cross, and Blessed Sacrament. In the middle ages, the profound bow was the usual way of showing respect. The Dominican Rite only slowly adopted genuflection that became the Roman practice in the later middle ages..
|Dominicans added the Elevation of the Chalice in about 1300|
Introduction of genuflections where the medieval Dominican Rite prescribed bows had actually begun earlier than that. For example, the General Chapter of Rome 1569 (ACG 5: 90) instructed the priest to simply bow while all others present knelt at the words Incarnatus est in the creed. Rome 1580 (ACG 5: 192) then introduced kneeling at the word "procedentes" in the Epiphany Gospel, during the Te Deum, and at the word "vereremur" in the hymn Tantum Ergo, "following Papal Chapel example." And finally the chatper of Lisbon in 1618 (ACG 6:300) confirms for general use the "pious custom" in Spsnish Provinces of kneeing at the words "Eia ergo" in Salve Regina.
|A Dominican Deacon Sings the Gospel (ca. 1950)|
The early modern period also so introducted ritual changes that friars often think of as dating back to the
|Salve Procession after Vestition, St. Dominic Church, SF, 2012|
I had always wondered about the origin of the idea that medieval friars broke sleep to rise for "Midnight Matin" and then returned to their cells for a couple hours rest before Lauds. This was not the case. In the middle ages, the friars rose early, usually around 3 a.m. to sing both Matins and Lauds together, finishing before dawn. I now know that the first example of breaking sleep is only witnessed at the Chapter of Valencia in 1647. It was then confirmed at Rome in 1650 (ACG 7: 282), where the "usus" of rising for "Midnight Matins," is required of all priories in the order, "according to the custom of the provinces as to when midnight is." This is the first time Matins is separated from Lauds as a "midnight" office." But small houses, at least, could rise before dawn for the traditional single office of Matins-Lauds. In the north the combined office of Matins-Lauds should be at 4 am in winter and 3 am in summer, as it was usually in all the middle ages.
Finally, I now know when the Order finally adopted a ritual for distributing Communion to the laity present
I have also found some interesting legislation on music and the use of the organ, but will save that for another posting.