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Dominican liturgy: books for the Mass

800 years of Dominican books

When the Dominican Order was founded an immediate task was the provision of the liturgical books for the Mass and Divine Office required for their daily worship. Initially there seems to have been a diversity of texts used in the various Provinces, but from 1245 a uniform liturgy was ordered to be prepared as decided by the General Chapter at Cologne in that year. During the period 1246 to 1254 there was controversy over the texts of these liturgical books, and in 1254 the new Master General, Humbert of Romans, was commissioned by the Chapter at Budapest to oversee a definitive correction of all of them. As well as the fundamental texts of the Missal and the Breviary, the music books for the Mass and Office, the Gradual and the Antiphoner, were also required to establish uniform Dominican texts and accompanying chant. Also a Processional was needed and other books for the Office such as the Collectar, Diurnal and Martyrology. An Ordinal was composed by Humbert of Romans from 1254 onwards. Some early texts of the Dominican Breviary and the Missal survive from ca 1250 onwards, but the definitive corrected texts of all the books survives in a manuscript completed in 1259 at the Paris priory of St Jacques and now belonging to the Dominican priory in Rome at Santa Sabina (MS Santa Sabina XIV L 1).

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.