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Ordo Missae of the 1962 Missale Romanum

A Rubrical Guide For Altar Servers

By Louis J. Tofari

 Requiem Low Mass for Two Servers

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The Requiem Mass is very ancient in its origin, being the predecessor of the current Roman Rite (i.e., the so-called "Tridentine Rite") of Mass before the majority of the gallicanizations [1] of the Mass were introduced. Thus, many ancient features, in the form of omissions from the normal customs of Low Mass, are observed [2].
  • Interwoven into the beautiful and spiritually consoling Requiem Rite is the liturgical principle that all blessings are reserved for the deceased soul(s) for whose repose the Mass is being celebrated. This principle is put into action through the omission of these blessings:
    • Holy water is not taken before processing into the Sanctuary.
    • The sign of the Cross is not made at the beginning of the Introit [3].
    • C does not kiss the praeconium [4] of the Gospel after reading it [5].
    • During the Offertory , the water is not blessed before being mixed with the wine in the chalice [6].
    • The Last Blessing is not given.
  • All solita oscula that the servers usually perform are omitted, namely:
    • When giving and receiving the biretta.
    • When presenting and receiving the cruets at the Offertory.
  • Also absent from the Requiem Mass are all Gloria Patri's, namely during the Introit and the Lavabo.
  • The Preparatory Prayers are said in an abbreviated form:
    • The entirety of Psalm 42 (Judica me) is omitted; consequently the prayers begin with the sign of the Cross and then Adjutorium nostrum… is immediately said.
    • After this, the remainder of the Preparatory Prayers are said as usual.
  • The Sequence, Dies irae, is said after the usual Gradual in place of the Alleluia. Due to the length of this proper, the Acolytes must know the cue (which is Qui Mariam absolvisti) at which to rise after the reading of the Epistle or they will rise too early to switch the missal.
  • During the Agnus Dei, the Acolytes do not strike their breasts, as the end of the clause is changed to dona eis requiem.
  • Ite, missa est is replaced with Requiescant in pace to which the servers’ response is: Amen.

If the Reception of the Casket ceremony will be observed before the Requiem Mass, please refer to the Funeral Ceremonies sheet for details.


The Acolytes serve a Requiem Low Mass as they would serve a usual Low Mass with these exceptions:


  • Upon departing the Sacristy, the Acolytes do not take holy water if normally customary.
  • Upon arriving at the Foot, Ac1 does not perform solita oscula when taking the biretta.


  • During the Preparatory Prayers, the Acolytes sign themselves for the sign of the Cross, and then immediately again for Adjutorium nostrum.
  • C then says his Confiteor. The Acolytes make their normal responses to C, starting with the Misereatur.


  • The Acolytes do not make the sign of the Cross at the beginning of the Introit, nor is there a Gloria Patri at which to bow.


  • After the Acolytes say Deo gratias to the conclusion of the Epistle, they do not stand immediately so Ac2 may retrieve the missal. Rather, they wait until C has said the Gradual, then during the Sequence, Dies irae, they stand when C says, Qui Mariam absolvisti. Ac2 then performs his actions alone as usual.
  • During the remainder of the Dies irae, while the Acolytes are standing, when C says the Holy Name, both turn towards the Tabernacle and bow in unison with C.


  • The Acolytes perform the Offertory actions as usual, except the cruets are not kissed (and neither is the water blessed by C).


  • While C says the Agnus Dei, the Acolytes bow as usual, but they do not strike their breasts since the clause is dona eis requiem [7].


  • At the end of Mass, where Ite, missa est would normally be said, C will say instead, Requiescant in pace, to which the Acolytes reply, Amen.

If the Absolution of the Casket ceremony will be observed after the Requiem Mass, please refer to the Funeral Ceremonies sheet for details.

[1] That is, those rubrical importations from the Gallican Rite of France, which in turn may have been originally derived from an earlier form of the Byzantine Rite. Cf. Fortescue, A Study of the Roman Rite.

[2] This is even more so with the Missa Cantata or Solemn High Mass.

[3] C signs the missal with a large Greek Cross instead of himself.

[4] That is, the title or introduction of the Gospel, which is marked in the missal with a red cross.

[5] An action which does not affect the duties of the Acolytes.

[6] Again, another action which does not affect the Acolytes. However, this omission is highly symbolic: The water represents the Church Militant, and the blessing of it symbolizes the merits that the saints on earth can gain. A deceased soul, however, can no longer gain any further merits and neither does he belong to the Church Militant; hence this omission.

[7]That is, grant him rest and not have mercy on us.

Copyright © 2007. Louis J. Tofari. All rights reserved.
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