Solemn Mass

Ite missa est sung by the deacon at a Solemn Mass at Brompton Oratory.

Solemn Mass (Latin: missa solemnis), sometimes also referred to as Solemn High Mass or simply High Mass, is, when used not merely as a description, the full ceremonial form of the Tridentine Mass, celebrated by a priest with a deacon and a subdeacon,[1] requiring most of the parts of the Mass to be sung, and the use of incense. The term "High Mass" is also used in the United States to describe the less elaborate Missa Cantata, which lacks deacon and subdeacon and some of the ceremonies connected with them. This article deals with Solemn Mass as celebrated according to the Tridentine use.

These terms distinguish the form in question from that of Low Mass and Missa Cantata. The parts assigned to the deacon and subdeacon are often done by priests in vestments proper to those roles. A Solemn Mass celebrated by a bishop has its own particular ceremonies and is referred to as a Solemn Pontifical Mass.

The terms "Solemn Mass," "Solemn High Mass," and "High Mass" are also often used within Anglo-Catholicism, in which the ceremonial, and sometimes the text, are based on those of the Sarum Rite or the later Tridentine Mass. Lutherans (mainly in Europe) sometimes use the term "High Mass" to describe a more solemn form of their Divine Service, generally celebrated in a manner similar to that of Roman Catholics. Examples of similarities include vestments, chanting, and incense. Lutheran congregations in North America commonly celebrate High Mass in essence,[2] but rarely use the term "Mass."[3]

Importance within Tridentine Mass

Solemn or High Mass is the full form of Tridentine Mass and elements of the abbreviated forms can be explained only in its light:

This high Mass is the norm; it is only in the complete rite with deacon and subdeacon that the ceremonies can be understood. Thus, the rubrics of the Ordinary of the Mass always suppose that the Mass is high. Low Mass, said by a priest alone with one server, is a shortened and simplified form of the same thing. Its ritual can be explained only by a reference to high Mass. For instance, the celebrant goes over to the north side of the altar to read the Gospel, because that is the side to which the deacon goes in procession at high Mass; he turns round always by the right, because at high Mass he should not turn his back to the deacon and so on.[4]

Since its 1970 revision, the Roman Missal no longer categorizes Mass as High or Low (in Latin, solemnis or lecta), and distinguishes Mass[5] only as celebrated with a congregation[6] (with a subdivision according as it is celebrated with or without a deacon)[7] or with participation by only one minister,[8] and as celebrated with or without concelebrating priests.[9] It recommends singing at all Masses, saying, for instance: "Although it is not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people is not absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on holy days of obligation";[10] and: "It is very appropriate that the priest sing those parts of the Eucharistic Prayer for which musical notation is provided."[11] The distinction between High and Low Mass is necessarily observed where the Tridentine form of the Roman Rite continues to be used. The term "High Mass" is sometimes encountered also, both in Anglican and certain Roman Catholic circles, to describe any Mass celebrated with greater solemnity.


See also: Vestment

In the sacristy, before vesting, all three sacred ministers (priest celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon) wash their hands. The sacred ministers recite certain prayers while they place on each vestment. First, the amice (a rectangular cloth of linen with long strings for tying) is kissed (if it is embroidered with a cross) and then placed on top of the head briefly while reciting one of the prayers during vesting. Then it is tied around the shoulders on top of the cassock (or on top of the habit, if the sacred ministers belongs to a religious order with one). Next the alb (a long linen tunic with sleeves) is put on. The cincture (in Latin, cinctura), a long cloth cord also called a girdle, is then tied around the waist. The subdeacon then completes his vesting by placing the maniple (an embroidered piece of fabric, folded in half, with a cross in the middle) on his left arm (provided there is no Asperges or other liturgical ceremony before Mass begins), securing it either with pins or with the ribbons or elastic inside, and then the tunicle (an embroidered tunic with short sleeves) over all. The deacon places his stole (a long narrow embroidered piece of cloth, similar to the maniple but of greater length) over his left shoulder and binds it in place, at his right hip, with the cincture or girdle. He then puts on the maniple and his dalmatic (similar to the tunicle). The priest celebrant does the same except that he crosses his stole in front of him at the waist, binding it with the girdle or cincture. After the maniple he puts on a cope (a long, heavy embroidered cape) if the Mass is preceded by the Asperges (sprinkling the congregation with holy water). Following the Asperges, the celebrant, assisted by the acolytes, removes the cope and puts on the chasuble (similar to the tunicle, but without sleeves and usually with an embroidered cross or image on the back).

The servers of the Mass (Master of Ceremonies, acolytes, thurifer, torch-bearers) and the clergy sitting in the liturgical choir stalls are vested in cassock (the ankle-length black robe with buttons, usually seen on priests and altar servers) and surplice (a flowing white tunic with sleeves) or cotta (a shorter version of the surplice), though in some places acolytes wore simple albs and cinctures instead. Anyone ordained to the subdiaconate or above also wears the biretta (a four-cornered hat with perhaps a pom-pom on top in the center and three fins on top around the edges) while sitting. Members of religious orders in habit have on a surplice over the habit. If it is part of their "choir dress", they also use the biretta. If not, then they use their hood in the same fashion as one uses a biretta. Birettas are plain black for priests, deacons and subdeacons, purple or black with purple or red trim for monsignori, canons, bishops and archbishops; cardinals' birettas are scarlet.


See also: Missa solemnis

The typical music of Solemn Mass is Gregorian chant. However, a wide variety of musical settings of the Ordinary of the Mass have been composed over the centuries, and may be used instead. The polyphonic works of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Giovanni Gabrieli are considered especially suitable. There are also several musical settings for the propers of Masses during seasons and on feast days and for certain votive Masses. An example is William Byrd's setting of the minor propers for the Lady Mass in Advent.

Despite discouragement, more than a century ago, by Pope Pius X in Tra le Sollecitudine (1903) of the selection of post-Renaissance compositions often considered to be "sacred music," musical settings for the Ordinary of the Mass by composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart continue in use. Being based on texts in Latin, these settings, as well as the earlier ones, are less frequently met today.

The music of the Mass is typically performed by a choir. The Ordinary is theoretically designated for the whole congregation, whereas the Propers are proper to the choir of clerics in attendance. In practice, even the Ordinary is often too complicated for the congregation, and the choir is often made up of specially trained lay men and women (though in churches run by religious orders it is often made up of their members.) The choir, at least if clerical, was traditionally placed close to the altar in stalls. However, with the appearance of elaborate musical settings of the Ordinary of the Mass it became necessary to employ lay singers, and with this innovation, the choir moved first from the front of the church up to galleries on the sides of the church and then finally to a loft in the back. This in turn allowed musical instruments, besides the organ, to be employed in the music.

In Solemn Mass, by far the greater part is spoken by the celebrant inaudibly, but, apart from a very few parts such as the "Orate Fratres", all that he speaks aloud, such as "Dominus vobiscum" and the four opening words of the Gloria and of the Creed are sung by him. He says quietly for himself everything that the choir sings, except short responses such as "Et cum spiritu tuo" and "Amen." He reads for himself the words of the Epistle and the following chants while the subdeacon sings the Epistle, and he reads the Gospel for himself before the deacon sings the Gospel aloud.

Structure and ceremonial

The ceremonies begin when the Master of Ceremonies (MC) rings the bell. The porter opens the sacristy door and the servers and ministers leave the sacristy and enter the church in the following manner: first the thurifer carrying his thurible and boat (or the aspersorium if the Asperges is to be had); next come the acolytes carrying their candles (the custom in Northern European and English-speaking countries is to have a crucifer holding a processional cross walking between the acolytes); the Master of Ceremonies comes next; and finally the three sacred ministers enter in single file in reverse order of precedence (or on either side of the celebrant if he is wearing the cope for the Asperges or some other ceremony before the Mass. The deacon and sub-deacon should be holding the ends of the cope.)

See also



This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/30/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.