From a priest reader:
At my parish we celebrate solemn sung Vespers during Lent with the congregation. The pastor has asked that the priest celebrant vest in alb and stole using at the basis of his request that the Holy Father uses an alb and stole and likewise the Ceremonial of Bishops prescribes that the Bishop use and alb and stole. Saying that the bishop is properly the celebrant and that what is good for Rome and the bishop is good for the parish as well.
However, in our discussions we have looked in the various rituals for Baptism, Marriage and even exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and found that there is given the option for a priest to wear a surplice (assuming then that the cassock is used). Would you be able to point us in the right direction as to where both are valid options? I’d appreciate any direction you can shoot my way.
Kudos for having Vespers! A fine tradition.
My understanding is that, for a priest or deacon, the proper dress for Vespers is choir dress with cope. Cassock, surplice, biretta surmounted by cope, biretta when seated and in procession. Stole if the Blessed Sacrament is to be exposed, and then one would not wear the biretta when seated.
I am not sure that the Pope’s dress for Vespers is the best model in this case. It seems that these days the Pope is dressing only as any bishop would. I am not sure that just because a bishop dresses in a certain way, priests should therefore dress that way. Also, back in the day, the Pope would usually be present for Vespers but not the celebrant. And the Pope’s “choir” dress is particular to the Pope.
People more knowledgeable than I can chime in on this.
That said, for priests I believe the usual vesture for Vespers is cassock, surplice, cope with biretta when appropriate. Let not the overused alb eliminate what priests have always worn. A sad thing when some late-innovation drives the normal into the category of optional.
Furthermore, this is a situation in which the Extraordinary (traditional) way of doing things can exert its gravitational pull on the Ordinary, and therefore enhance a sense of continuity with our way of praying for a very long time.