July 22, 2014
By Peter F. Meggison, professor of business and computing at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts
One of the major contributors to American Catholic music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was Sister Mary Alexis Donnelly. Born Julia Donnelly in England in 1857, she came to the United States as a girl and entered the Sisters of Mercy in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1877. Her early assignments included teaching music in Providence diocesan schools.
Sister Alexis was recognized by her superiors as a gifted musician. At the age of 34, she compiled 121 hymns—mostly her own compositions. These works were published as Holy Face Hymnal by J. Fischer & Bro. of New York, a leading publisher of church music. In 1899, Sister Alexis compiled a second hymnal of 58 compositions, most of them her own works, under the title Our Lady of Mercy Hymnal. Read More