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Ordo Missae of the 1962 Missale Romanum

Handbook for Altar Servers

by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen

  Solemn High Mass

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The Altar. Place altar cards and missal stand with missal open at the Mass. Light six candles.

The Credence. On the credence should be the chalice, with purificator, paten with host, pall, chalice veil folded, and burse (containing corporal) of same color as vestments, cruets and dish, lavabo cloth, bowl and bell, the humeral veil spread over all. If there is a Credo, the burse may be put over the chalice outside the humeral veil. The Epistle and Gospel book should be on the credence.

On the altar steps should be the Ritual for the Asperges. Unless there be necessity for so doing, or permission is given, none but the priest or a sacred minister should touch the chalice, paten, corporal and pall.


Vestments for the Sacred Ministers

Celebrant. Chasuble, stole, maniple, cincture, alb, amice and biretta.

Deacon (on the right of celebrant's vestments). Dalmatic, stole, maniple, cincture, alb, amice and biretta.

Subdeacon (on the left). Tunic, maniple, cincture, alb, amice and biretta.

If there be Asperges, the maniples for the sacred ministers and chasuble for the celebrant should be put on the ministers' bench, and the cope placed ready in the sacristy.

In the servers' sacristy prepare thurible and boat, holy-water stoup and aspergilium, and torches, the number varying with the grade of the feast, in Ferial and Requiem Masses 2, on Sundays 4, never more than 6, or at most 8.

The duty of a server at High Mass includes the offices of thurifer, acolytes and torchbearers.

Thurifer. The Thurifer precedes the acolytes in the procession to the sanctuary. If no Asperges, he carries the thurible and incense boat. On Sundays he fetches the thurible after the Asperges. He stands holding it on the Epistle side. When the celebrant ascends to the altar, the thurifer ascends the predella by the Epistle side, hands the boat to the deacon with the right hand, and holds the thurible while the celebrant puts in the incense and blesses it, receives the boat with the left hand and with the right gives the thurible to the deacon, who passes it to the celebrant; the thurifer returns in plano. If there be no master of ceremonies, he puts down the boat and takes the missal stand from the altar during the incensation, afterwards replaces it, and waits on the epistle side till the celebrant has been incensed. The thurifer receives back the thurible from the deacon, and retires with it to the sacristy, and returns to the sanctuary.

Towards the end of the Epistle the thurifer fetches the thurible and brings it by the time the celebrant has finished reading the Epistle; he approaches the altar as before, and after the incense has been blessed, carrying the thurible in his right hand, he joins the acolytes and awaits the deacon in plano; genuflecting together with the sacred ministers, the thurifer takes his place at the right hand of the first acolyte, facing the Epistle side. When the triple sign of the Cross is being made, he hands the thurible to the M.C. and after receiving it back returns to his place facing the Epistle side, taking care not to swing the thurible while the Gospel is being sung. At the close, the thurifer hands the thurible to the deacon, who incenses the celebrant and returns the thurible to the thurifer, who, with the thurible in his left hand, will take a position behind the subdeacon, and genuflect with the sacred ministers, and wait until the Credo is intoned to leave the sanctuary.

When there is no Credo, the thurifer genuflects with the subdeacon, after the celebrant has intoned the Oremus, and goes with him to the credence. When the sacred ministers return to the altar after the Credo, the thurifer fetches the thurible and boat and stands in plano on the Epistle side of the altar ready for the incense to be blessed as at the beginning. After the celebrant has been incensed, the thurifer should accompany the deacon when he incenses the clergy and choir, and subdeacon. The thurifer will incense the deacon on his return to the sanctuary, and then incense, first, the M.C., then those in choir on the Gospel side collectively, with three single swings of the thurible in the center, to the left and to the right; and those on the Epistle side in the same manner; then the two acolytes collectively; and lastly the people.

To incense the faithful the thurifer, standing at the entrance to the sanctuary, will make a slight bow, to the middle first, then to the left and to the right, and with a single swing of the thurible will incense first the middle, then on the left, then on the right. After bowing slightly he will return to the sanctuary, and genuflect together with the torchbearers. With them he will retire either to the sacristy or the credence, and after the recitation of the Sanctus by the celebrant will precede the torchbearers to the sanctuary. Having genuflected between them, the thurifer will go to the Epistle side in plano, and stand, swinging his thurible, until at the Hanc igitur the master of ceremonies or one of the Acolytes puts in incense; then when the sacred ministers kneel, the thurifer will kneel on the lowest step on the Epistle side of the altar and at the Elevation incense the Holy Sacrament. After the consecration he goes to the middle and genuflecting with the torchbearers precedes them either to the sacristy or credence, and the thurible being no longer required, he puts it away, and then returns with the other servers to the sanctuary.

The Acolytes, bearing candles, walk on either side of the Crossbearer behind the thurifer, and when they reach the sanctuary stand facing one another at either end of the altar steps. As the sacred ministers arrive, they should come together behind them, genuflect together with them, then place their candles on the credence. During the Psalm, Confiteor and versicles, they should kneel in front of the credence. While the Gradual is being sung, they will take their candles, then led by the thurifer, go to the middle and stand together in front of him, facing the altar, a little behind the deacon and subdeacon. When the M.C. gives the sign, the acolytes will genuflect, turn, and follow the thurifer to either side of the lectern or the subdeacon holding the gospel book, facing the Epistle side, the first acolyte on the altar side. They never genuflect during the Gospel. Afterwards they will return to the credence, genuflecting as they pass before the altar, and replace their candles on the credence.

During the Gloria and Credo they will stand one at each end of the sacred ministers' bench in readiness to assist the sacred ministers, handing them their birettas and raising their vestments. They kneel at Et incarnatus est.

At the Offertory the second acolyte will place the humeral veil on the subdeacon's shoulders and tie it in front; meanwhile the first acolyte will have prepared to follow the subdeacon to the altar with the cruets, and will remain standing at the altar side to receive them back again. While the deacon is incensing the celebrant, the first acolyte will take the towel, and the second the water cruet and dish, and approach the celebrant and pour water over his fingers and offer the towel; then bowing slightly they will replace the cruet, dish and lavabo cloth on the credence, and, the first acolyte taking the bell, they will stand up until it is time to kneel down with the sacred ministers for the Elevation.

During the elevation they will make a moderate reverence. After the Pater noster the second acolyte, having genuflected, will ascend the predella and remove the humeral veil from the subdeacon's shoulders, and, after genuflecting with him on the predella, will put the veil on the credence. Where it is the custom the first acolyte will receive the Pax from the M.C., and give it to the second. After the celebrant has received the Sacred Host, and when the subdeacon removes the pall, the first acolyte, genuflecting with the sacred ministers, places the cruet on the altar and on receiving them back will replace them on the credence. The second, taking the chalice veil from the credence, comes to the middle, when the sacred ministers change places, genuflects behind the subdeacon, then lays the chalice veil on the altar on the Gospel side, and returns to the credence. At the blessing they will kneel, and during the last Gospel take up their candles, go to the middle, and after genuflecting proceed to the sacristy. When turning they must take care to remain in line with one another (and with the Crossbearer) and not turn individually, otherwise they would change places.

The Torchbearers, genuflecting recta linea, leave the sanctuary, when the thurifer, after having incensed the faithful, has joined them, and go to the sacristy (or credence) to fetch their torches. When these are lit, after the Sanctus bell has rung, they enter the sanctuary, led by the thurifer, walking two abreast; those on the right hold their torches in the right hand, and those on the left in the left hand, the unoccupied hand being laid upon the breast. On arriving in the sanctuary the torchbearers genuflect with the thurifer and divide, kneeling at equal distances in plano. After the elevation the torchbearers rise (except in the case of Holy Communion being administered, when they remain kneeling until the tabernacle is closed), genuflect with the thurifer, and, preceded by him, retire to the sacristy. Great care should be taken to move and genuflect together.

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