Cantus Selecti OP - Selection of Fifty Dominican Chants

Cantus Selecti OP

In this Jubilee Year of the Order of Preachers, I am happy to present this publication of a selection of about fifty chants particularly dear to the tradition of the Order. I am very grateful to the International Liturgical Commission of the Order for having prepared this edition with such great care.

Not long after its confirmation (1216), the Order benefited from the decision of Humbert of Romans, then Master of the Order, to promote the establishment of a common liturgy for the whole Order (1254). In this way a fundamental characteristic of the vocation of the Order was affirmed: to root its mission of preaching in a rich choral life, contemplative and liturgical. Since this time, the celebration, the listening, and the study of the Word of God have together bourn and nourished the preaching of this Word. This attentiveness of the Master of Order Humbert of Romans manifests, in my view, two constitutive elements of the “holy preaching” that Dominic wished to place at the service of the Church. On the one hand, this rooting in liturgical prayer was essential for the unity of life for each brother and each community. On the other hand, vowed to itinerant preaching, according to the mode of Jesus the Preacher, it was suitable for giving to the brothers the conditions necessary foster unity among all the communities.

Faithful to this intuition, for eight centuries the brothers and sisters love to chant the Divine Office, not only to honor their engagement in communal prayer and regular choir, but also as one of the modalities of their preaching, and of the common preaching that they address to each other communally through this prayer. Until the Second Vatican Council, the liturgy of the Order was chanted in Latin, as it was done in the entirety of the Latin Catholic Church. Over the centuries, the liturgy has constituted an exceptional patrimony of expression of the faith, of reception of the Word, of “conversation” with God. Each spiritual tradition provided a specific contribution to this patrimony, and the chants which are presented here, without pretending to be exhaustive, are an illustration of this patrimony.

These melodies and texts are not merely “witnesses of the past” that would invite a nostalgic return to past times. Although since the Second Vatican Council the liturgy in the Order is usually celebrated in the local language, brothers and sisters may like to introduce into their celebration some of these prayers. In so doing, they wish to create dialogue with the past in their prayer of today, manifesting all that the wisdom, the theological intelligence, the search for truth and the aspiration for beauty of our ancestors is able to bring to the prayer of today, and to stimulate creativity in prayer and liturgical chant, which is essential today as it was in the past for a renewal of evangelization. To draw from the source, to commit to the future with faithfulness, joy, and creativity: is this not the very goal of the celebration of a Jubilee? The collection, presented to you, plays its role in this celebration.

Brother Bruno Cadoré, OP
Master of the Order of Preachers


(19 February 2017)