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In 1615, following the dissolution of the English monasteries by Henry VIII, a group of English Benedictine monks who saw themselves as the inheritors of the pre-reformation tradition of the great abbeys of Bury St. Edmunds and Westminster, founded, in Paris, the monastery of St. Edmund.
Edmund was the Anglo-Saxon king of East Anglia who had been martyred by the Danes in 869. Two present monks of Douai can trace their monastic ancestry back to the Abbeys of Evesham and Westminster. Other English monasteries were established in the early 17th century at Douai in Flanders (now Downside), Dieulouard in Lorraine (now Ampleforth), and Lamspringe in Germany, (suppressed 1802).
Expelled during the French Revolution, the monks of St. Edmunds moved in 1818 to Douai. In 1903 the monks were again expelled from their monastery when French anti-clerical laws drove them out of France. Returning to England they settled at Woolhampton, Berkshire, bringing with them the name Douai Douai Abbey being the colloquial title for the Abbey.
The Abbey Church is the centre and focus of the life and work of the monks a place where the Divine Office takes place five times a day: Matins, Mass, Midday Office, Vespers and Compline. Vespers is sung to the traditional Latin chant, English and Latin are sung at Mass, and the other offices are sung in English.
In addition to the daily liturgies members of the community give retreats and conferences, receive guests, and are responsible both for the surrounding parish and others further afield. The original design for the Abbey Church was by Arnold Crush and the east-end, now sanctuary and choir, was opened in 1933.
The Abbey was to have had a further seven-bay nave. This nave was never built and a striking half-hexagonal nave was built in 1993 to the design of Dr. Michael Blee. The resulting Abbey Church is a building of very great distinction.The Douai Abbey Singers, the lay-choir of the Abbey, have been an established part of the life of the Abbey since 1990.
Benedictine monasteries have a long tradition of associated lay choirs. In the Middle Ages the function of the lay singers was often in association with services in the Lady Chapel or other chapels or chantries.
Today at Douai the function of the choir is to assist and enhance the liturgy of the Abbey. The singers, who are predominantly amateur, have a schedule of some eighteen or twenty Sunday Masses and other feasts each year. They meet to rehearse for an hour and a quarter before each service. In Advent and Lent the singers perform larger-scale works in association with the monks, who give spoken reflections on the texts of the music.
|1||01:43||Advent – Fond d’Orgue 1e Ton (Livre 1)||Jacques Boyvin|
|2||01:40||Missa Alme Pater – Kyrie||John Sanders|
|3||03:26||Missa Alme Pater – Gloria||John Sanders|
|4||02:30||Of one that is so fair and bright||Francis Duffy|
|5||01:26||Missa Alme Pater – Sanctus||John Sanders|
|6||01:58||Missa Alme Pater – Agnus Dei||John Sanders|
|7||01:23||A Winter rose||Alan Rees OSB|
|8||05:11||Christmas – Salve puerule||Marc-Antoine Charpentier|
|9||03:17||Christmas – Angels from the realms of glory, French Noel – harm. R R Terry||Marc-Antoine Charpentier|
|10||03:14||Christmas – Noel Etranger (VIII)||L. C. Daquin|
|11||01:43||Lent Passiontide – Ave Regina||Francesco Soriano|
|12||02:47||Lent Passiontide – Improperium||Franz Xaver Witt|
|13||07:42||Lent Passiontide – Stabat Mater||M. A. Charpentier|
|14||01:56||Lent Passiontide – Ave verum||John Duggan|
|15||02:16||Lent Passiontide – The regal dark victorious cross||William Tan Sur|
|16||04:36||Lent Passiontide – Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree||Colin Mawby|
|17||02:42||Lent Passiontide – Tierce en Taille – 5eTon (Livre 1)||N. Lebegue|
|18||02:01||Easter Mass for Douai Abbey – de Angelis – Kyrie||Colin Mawby|
|19||03:21||Easter Mass for Douai Abbey – de Angelis – Gloria||Colin Mawby|
|21||02:20||Alleluia Plainchant with Verse by||Colin Mawby|
|22||01:58||Mass for Douai Abbey – de Angelis – Sanctus||Colin Mawby|
|23||02:33||Mass for Douai Abbey – de Angelis – Agnus Dei||Colin Mawby|
|24||01:17||Regina coeli||Francesco Soriano|
|25||02:35||Through the Red Sea brought at last Chorale – harm. A. G. Murray OSB||Francesco Soriano|
|26||05:48||Offertoire pour le Jour de Paques – O Filii et filiae||Jean- Francois Dandrieu|