A priest friend lately asked me about how to handle a biretta while in choir. This only the first time I have been asked about birettas in the last days. Therefore, I will repost some information I have shared before.
Religious have other customs if they don’t use the biretta.
Some notes about the proper use of the biretta in choro.
I am looking for the proper use of the Biretta by a priest at Mass. I know the general rule is that it is worn while seated and usually off while standing. I have seen some priests lift their Biretta slightly at the Name of God, or of Jesus while they are seated. Thank you for your help.
Once upon a time I actually had made a little pamphlet on this… but I can’t find it. I will have to redo it in my copious free time.
In the military people need to know what to do with their hats, when to cover and uncover. This varies with the services. The Navy handles their covers differently than the Army, for example, when it comes to indoors and outdoors.
The same goes for clergy in choir dress.
I haven’t a lot of time today, so here are some rapid notes I sent to a priest friend who was going to be attending a TLM in choro for the first time and wanted to know what to do.
- Carry the biretta in procession.
- Only the sacred ministers wear it when walking.
- Wear it when seated.
- Remove it BEFORE standing and recover only when seated again.
- Do not wear it kneeling.
- In general, unless you are in vestments as a sacred minister, do not wear it while standing. An exception would be when a priest is preaching.
- Uncover at the Holy Name by removing the biretta and lowering it to your right knee.
- NEVER wear it when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.
- Tip it in return if ministers bow to your direction as they pass before you or if they are heading to point X across the sanctuary and make the usual honorific bows.
- Put it on correctly! If it is a three-horned biretta, what Italians call a “tricorno”, the middle “horn” goes to the right side of your head so you remove and cover using your right hand.
- Servers should always offer the biretta so that the priest can grasp that middle “horn”.
- When standing, hold the biretta with hands before your chest, using both hands, holding the bottom edge so that the biretta is above your hands.
- If in procession you are carrying a book, hold the book upright with the pages to the left and hook the top of the biretta in your lower fingers below the book.
- Hold the biretta before your chest as described above when standing when orations are sung, the Gospel is sung, you are being incensed, the blessing at the end, etc.
- Do not…not… sit on it!
There are some fast tips for your birettiquette!