Sancta Missa - Rubrics of the 1962 Roman Missal - Online Tutorial on the Latin Tridentine Mass of 1962

Ordo Missae of the 1962 Missale Romanum

Handbook for Altar Servers

by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen


Previous Previous Section | Index | Next Section  Previous


How to prepare the Sanctuary. If there be no sacristan, the server may remove the crucifix and altar cover; if necessary, also the altar cards, and place on the altar the Benediction candlesticks. He will see that the monstrance is in position on the Gospel side, with the opening towards the Tabernacle. If altar steps are used they should be placed in plano on the Gospel side. The humeral veil should be placed folded on the credence. The Benediction book and the bell may be on the altar step.

How to prepare in the Sacristy: In the priest's sacristy the following vestments should be prepared:

For Solemn Benediction (i.e., with deacon and subdeacon).

For the celebrant: amice, alb, cincture, stole and cope.

For deacon and subdeacon: amice, alb and cincture, and stole and dalmatic for the deacon, and tunic for the subdeacon.

Otherwise: amice, cotta and stole for the celebrant, and stole for the assistant priest.

In the servers' sacristy should be prepared the thurible and incense boat, and the torches.

When the celebrant is vested, the procession forms in the following order: The thurifer precedes, carrying and gently swinging the thurible in his left hand, having his thumb in the ring of the cap, and the chain ring on his middle finger, and holding the incense boat in his right hand against his breast; then follow the torchbearers carrying the torches in their outside hands, then the servers, and lastly the celebrant with sacred ministers, or with two assistants. If there be two assistants, one will support the cope on the right hand, and the other on the left. The cope is always held by the outside edge of the orphrey or gold-embroidered edge, about a foot from the end, so that the embroidered edge is shown, and not the lining of the cope.

On the arrival in the sanctuary, after the birettas have been removed, all genuflect together; the celebrant and sacred ministers and the torchbearers remain kneeling.

Then the celebrant, the deacon or the assistant priest ascends the altar steps, spreads the corporal and exposes the Blessed Sacrament; meanwhile if steps are used the second assistant server brings them and places them in position on the predella, genuflects with the priest, and standing lifts his alb as he ascends the steps. When the priest has descended, both priest and server stepping aside genuflect together, and the server removes the steps from off the predella to their proper place. The server returns to the left of the celebrant or subdeacon and kneels down.

The thurifer approaches and hands the incense boat to the M.C. or deacon or first assistant server, while the subdeacon or second assistant server comes to the right side of the priest to hold the cope. The thurifer meanwhile, holding the thurible in his left hand, raises the lid-chain with his right hand, and lifts the thurible to the level of the priest's hand, having the hand with the cap against his breast. When the incense has been placed in the thurible, the thurifer, releasing the ring of the middle chain, closes the lid, and with his right hand hands the thurible to the deacon, or assistant, who, holding the thurible in his left hand, gives the thurible into the celebrant's right hand and with the left hand passes the cap into the left hand of the celebrant.

When the priest incenses the Blessed Sacrament, the assistant servers (in the absence of deacon and subdeacon) sustain the cope on either side. If there be no deacon, the first assistant server will receive back again the thurible, from the celebrant, pass it to the thurifer, who retires aside and remains standing and gently swinging the thurible.

If the Blessed Sacrament is already exposed, the first incensing is omitted, and the thurifer does not bring the thurible into the sanctuary until the Tantum Ergo has been commenced. If only the Tantum Ergo is sung, the thurifer will enter the sanctuary with the celebrant.

If the celebrant is alone, after he has placed the Blessed Sacrament on the altar and knelt down, the M.C. or the thurifer, if there be no M.C., ascends the predella and places the humeral veil on his shoulders and remains kneeling on the Epistle side of the predella until after the blessing, if the veil is removed before the celebrant descends. If the celebrant descends with the veil in plano, then the M.C. or thurifer may descend immediately after putting the veil on the celebrant and kneel below during the blessing.

For the blessing the two assistants ascend the predella, and during the blessing they sustain the cope. they afterwards descend with the celebrant and kneel with him on the lowest step whilst the Divine Praises are said.

The M.C. or thurifer puts the veil aside on the credence and kneels between the torchbearers.

The custom of incensing the Blessed Sacrament during the act of Benediction is not in accordance with the best liturgical use.

When the tabernacle is closed, the thurifer and torchbearers rise, and after genuflecting together in plano, proceed to the sacristy in the same order as they came.

Should there be exposition only, without reposition, the same order is to be observed up to the end of the first incensation, after which all rise, genuflect on both knees, and proceed to the Sacristy.

N.B. This edition of The Altar Server’s Handbook, originally published by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen a century ago, contains in its pages  directives which do not necessarily correspond to the 1962 Missale Romanum or the serving tutorial on the Sancta Missa website. The handbook is intended as a possible aid for parishes or individuals interested in implementing a similar guild.
Ordo Missae - Order of Mass - 1962 Roman Missal