QUAERITUR: no Asperges or Vidi aquam

From a reader about the Vidi Aquam and Asperges… not to be confused with the wonderful vegetable:

At nearly every single High Mass I have attended, whether FSSP, ICR or SSPX, including most diocesan TLMs, the High Mass is preceded with the Asperges or Vidi Aquam.

However, I have noticed some parishes do not use either the Asperges or Vidi Aquam ever even though they always offer High Mass?

Is there a good reason for depriving the laity of this sacramental?

What is the proper protocol?

First, I am a little puzzled at the spin put on this question. You frame it in terms of finding a justification for "depriving" people of a sacramental.  I am all for sacramentals, but let’s be a little less aggressive.

You simply ask the priest why he didn’t do it.  I can imagine a few reasons.  For example…

The priest is still new at this old stuff and doesn’t know what to do.

The choir is still learning and doesn’t know the chant.

There is a Mass immediately after this one and it can’t go too long.

Remember that the Asperges and Vidi aquam are not part of the Mass.  This is why the priest doesn’t wear Mass vestments.  He usually wears a cope if there is one.  The ministers don’t wear their maniples, etc. 

Customarily this rite was done before the principle Mass in a place.  The rite is an option, and wasn’t nornally done before Low Masses…. except for a time in England, I think, where it was mandatory at Masses.  It probably grew out of cathedral Masses and churches with chapters where there were clergy in choro.  Something similar is done in the monastic office, at compline, I believe.

I think the Asperges and Vidi aquam are very good to do, and a priest does well to explain the significance so that people can better understand how valuable sacramentals are.  Still, if it is an option it can be left out without people snarling at the priest and asking for good reasons or justifications.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. dcs says:

    The Asperges (or Vidi Aquam during Eastertide) is also only done on Sundays.

    The reader also does not indicate whether he is referring to the traditional Mass or to the Novus Ordo in his second paragraph.

  2. Ian says:

    In parishes that employ both forms of the Mass, or where there are multiple Sung Masses on a Sunday, the Asperges is not done at both Masses.

    Hence, in a parish where the priest offered both a Sung Mass in the EF and a Mass in the OF (which he designated as the Principle Mass) then the Sung Mass would not and should not have a Asperges.

    As you said, Father, it seems to have grown out of the Cathedral or Monastic Community’s Mass, that is the Mass which was required by the Rule as part of the Daily Office. On Sundays at this Mass, the Asperges was given. When other Masses were offered for the good of the faithful, the Asperges was omitted.

    Reasonably, however, Father, while a priest might justify not doing the Asperges because the choir is not able to sing it, there is little reason that at the very least the choir or faithful cannot at least sing it Recto Tono or employ a psalm tone. It is not the duty of the choir to sing this part (or when at Mass, the Ordinary), properly it is for the faithful to sing, perhaps led by the choir.

  3. Jenny says:

    I expose my vast ignorance and ask, what are the Asperges and Vidi Aquam?

  4. Daniel Muller says:

    what are the Asperges and Vidi Aquam?

    They are the chants, Asperges me outside the Easter season, and Vidi aquam during the Easter season, which accompany the “sprinkling rite,” which in the Extraordinary Form precedes the Mass when it is employed and in the Ordinary Form replaces the Penitential Rite when it is employed. While they are not included in Jubilate Deo and are so not considered to be part of the most basic congregational chant repertoire, they are in fact both attractive and simple in their usual forms such that a congregation can sing them without accompaniment.

  5. Larry says:

    Father, Our priest has been doing the Vidi Aquam since Easter, however he
    then begins Mass at the Kyrie as he does with his Novus Ordo Mass. What can
    we do to put him right? Help!

  6. Fr A says:

    Great explanation! I try to use the rite on Sundays whenever permitted, even if that means on occasion having to recite the accompanying texts instead of singing them.

    Fr. Z observes: Customarily this rite was done before the principle Mass in a place.

    Surely all Masses celebrated in a place are principle Masses, but not all Masses are “the principal Mass”. :-)

  7. wsxyz says:

    Just want to say I love vidi aquam. The music is exquisite and the words are very powerful. It is my favorite chant. I am so sorry to see it go for another year after Pentecost.

  8. Larry says:

    I agree that Fr. Z has explained this quite well. But the issue raised was about “being deprived of this sacramental.” Might I suggest that it is the Holy Water that is the scaramental and by placing your fingers in the Font and blessing yourself you enjoy all the benefits of the sacramental. It is not the sprinkling but the Water (Holy)

  9. roydosan says:

    Can a deacon do the asperges / vidi aquam or does it have to be a priest?

  10. ssoldie says:

    If anyone is interested in the asperges, you all have computers, go look it up. Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened, ask and it shall be given you, are these words only for material things?, I believe not. Learn the ‘Gregorian Rite’ how beautiful it is, and how wonderful the words. God bless.

  11. Remember that the Asperges and Vidi aquam are not part of the Mass.

    Msgr. Knox (R.I.P.) in his book “The Mass in Slow Motion” mentioned that the prayers at the foot of the altar were not really part of the Mass either –these used to be said in the sacristy prior to Mass.

    I think Msgr. Knox said that Pope St. Pius V brought these private prayers into the liturgy circa the Council of Trent.

  12. ssoldie says:

    Anyone who lives around central Mn. You are invited to come to pray the T.L.M in Flensburg ,Mn 10 miles west of Little Falls. We celebrate High Mass every other Sunday, Father Art Hoppe (88) and Father Raymond Steffes(76) are our Priest’s and we have one of the most beautiful choirs I have ever heard, yes and we do the Asperges, Vidi aquam, and the music—like angels. Msgr Schuller would be very pleased.

  13. Mitchell NY says:


    Your parish is blessed to have two “older” Priests to offer this Mass for you..They are an inspiration and please tell that a Vat II generation person told you so. I hope it continues in your parish forever…I love the asperages, but if they are not performed I do not question it..In fact after not having seen it in a few years in the NO, I attended one recently and to my surprise they did the asperages…Gravitational pull anyone??

  14. joshua says:

    The Asperges is to be done at the Principal Mass on Sundays, but only then. At least in 1962 this was required. The rubrics in the Missal are not clear, it mentions the blessing of water on Sunday and then the Asperges/Vidi Aquam follows. But in every liturgical book besides (such as the Liber brevior, Liber usualis) it says on Sundays only and then at the principal Mass. Fortescue mentions that this should happen even if the principal Mass is a low Mass, and that the priest may simply recite the psalm

    In either case, it is not the norm for High Mass as such, but for a principal Mass.

  15. Andrea Brown says:

    Father, when the holy water is sprinkled on the congregation during the Asperges or Vidi Aquam, does a person (1) both genuflect and make the sign of the cross OR (2) just make the sign of the cross?

  16. Jason Keener says:


    This video shows the Sprinkling Rite before an Easter Sunday Mass and the singing of the “Vidi Aquam.” Outside of the Easter Season, the “Asperges Me” is sung during this Sprinkling Rite before Mass.


    The “Vidi Aquam”

    “I saw water coming forth from the temple
    on the right side, alleluia:
    and all those to whom this water came
    were saved, and shall say, alleluia, alleluia.

    V. Give praise to the Lord, for He is good:
    R. For His mercy endureth forever.

    V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
    R. As it was in the beginning, is now,
    and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

    Meaning of the “Vidi Aquam”

    Ezekiel was a man of great visions. He describes one: he saw a stream coming out from the right side of the future Temple, seen in a series of visions, and it kept growing until it became a river, which it was impossible to cross, teeming with fish, making every kind of fruit tree grow on its banks, bearing abundant fruit in all seasons and flowing into the sea and making its water wholesome (Ez.17,1-2). For his part Saint John insists (Jo. 19,34-35), that he saw blood and water coming out from the side of Jesus, when one of the soldiers pierced it with a lance.

    This water, coming out from the right side of the Temple, naturally suggested the water coming out from the right side of Jesus, who said of his body: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again” (Jo.2,19). This water from the side of Jesus was for many of the Fathers a symbol of baptism, figured also by the all-curing and life-giving water described by Ezekiel, since it purifies from sin and bestows grace, that we may bear abundant fruit spiritually (Jo.15,8). This was the meaning of the beautiful Vidi Aquam: the grace of baptism comes from the Passion and death of Jesus, it purifies us and makes us spiritually fruitful.

  17. C. says:

    Two questions:

    1. Why don’t priests publish FAQ’s?

    2. Why did God make a vegetable shaped like an aspergilium but none shaped like an aspersorium?

  18. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    Larry,that is a good reason why some bishops required a test or proof that a priest who would want to celebrate the traditional form actually KNOWS it.I have heard so many stories of well-intentioned priests who THINK they know the rubrics when they don’t.


  19. chris p says:

    For Larry: from what I understand, the Rite of Sprinkling and Blessing can be used in place of the Penitential Rite in the Novus Ordo, thus is part of the mass in the NO. Some priests choose this option during the Easter Season.

    Personally, I prefer the arrangement of having the Sprinkling Rite done outside of mass as a preparation just before the Mass properly begins and leaving the Penitential Rite intact. For Novus Ordo Masses, I don’t know if this is an option, but I would prefer it…as long as the Confiteor were always used.

  20. DMWallace says:

    I think God DID make a vegetable shaped like an aspersorium: the bell pepper!

  21. marshall says:

    is it possible in the Novus Ordo to have the Asperges/Vidi Aquam prior to the Mass? Also, is it possible for the prayers at the foot of the altar to be recited by priest and servers whilst the choir chants the introit?

  22. TNCath says:

    marshall wrote: “is it possible in the Novus Ordo to have the Asperges/Vidi Aquam prior to the Mass?”

    I may be wrong, but the Asperges/Vidi Aquam is an option in the Novus Ordo that can take the place of the Penitential Rite. If done at a Mass in the Extraordinary form, it is done prior to Mass. [I don’t think there are rubrics about what you can do before Mass. However, doing so would sure give people the impression that it was part of Mass, wouldn’t it?]

  23. Ian says:


    To save Father the trouble of looking at the books, we had this discussion at my parish a few weeks ago. A number of Fransiscan sisters who attend our Sunday Mass began kneeling a few weeks earlier during the Asperges and we had never done this before. It threw a number of people off. Some kneeling, some standing, most confused. Apparently one had asked the parish priest if they could do this, and he say “Sure!”.

    Not wanting to undermine Father, but curious at to what we were supposed to be doing, we looked into the matter. From what we could tell from various rubrical authors (Fortescue and the Frs. O’Connell): The congregation should stand the entire time and should not make a genuflection. A few clear reasons for this: (1) You would not do so if you were merely dipping your hand in a font and anointing yourself; (2) The case where you do kneel or make a genuflection — when a bishop is giving his blessing in the recession or when the Blessed Sacrament passes in procession — demands a far greater reverence than a sprinkling with Holy Water and there should be a distinction, hence a lesser reverence or no reverence; (3) When the faithful are singing at Mass they never sit or kneel — e.g. The Sanctus or Agnus Dei.

    So, while the servers and priest kneel for the intonation of the Asperges, as the priest sprinkles the Altar (which represents Christ), the congregation stands. The priest and servers rise. The priest sprinkles the faithful as they sing the rest of the Asperges. There is no requirement to make the sign of the cross (though one could reasonably do this out of private devotion).

    I did not look to see if the intonation is made with the priest standing for the Vidi Aquam, but all the rest of the same patterns apply.

  24. The Asperges is proper to Sundays only
    The Asperges is optional except where by legitimate custom or particular law an obligation is imposed for parochial churches…
    The Asperges may not take place more than once in the same church on the same Sunday.

    (S.R.C. 3268, I; 4051, I) [A decree which is no longer in force, but which can be followed.]

  25. Rubricarius says:

    The sprinkling before the principal Mass on Sundays was of obligation in Cathedral and Collegiate churches but not, as ‘Inillotempore’ points out above in parish churches, except in places like England, where it was enjoined by synodal law.

  26. David Grondz says:

    Our Friends the rubricists remind us that even during Paschaltide the celebrant kneels for the intonation of the antiphon, bows to the altar and sprinkles it, blesses himself then rises, reverences the altar and then proceeds to sprinkle everyone else in the usual way, observering the rules of precedence and choir (if applicable). Upon his return he reverences, and remains standing for the versicles and prayer (with the added Alleluia for “Ostende” and its response ONLY). The tone used is C-a.

  27. jacques says:

    “Asperges me domine”…
    When I was a young altar boy not yet taught in the latin language, I said this as I read it in French:
    “The asparagus dominate me”… [LOL!]
    So are the kids…

  28. Peter says:

    Can Vidi aquam/Asperges also be used during Easter/Christmas octave? That was the case at monthly TLM in one village where I go.The priest told me the rite can be done as octave liturgies are the same as on Sunday.

  29. AM says:

    In my parish there is a Sprinkling Rite on Sundays in the Easter season. The priest and readers process to the “Entrance Song”, then the priest skips the penitiential rite, and the Kyrie, and any singing of the Vidi aquam or any replacement, and perform the sprinkling while we’re singing the Gloria.

    We are so free of rubricism, you see, in the ordinary form.

    ( :-( )

  30. Brian Mershon says:

    So what if the primary Novus Ordo sung Mass of the day (no incense though) is at 9 a.m. and the primary (and only) TLM is at 11 a.m. and it is a High Mass with incense? Which is the primary Mass?

    What if the Novus Ordo does not employ the Vidi Aquam or the Asperges? Since the rubrics cited are for the the PRINCIPAL Mass (assuming the TLM, not the Novus Ordo, which wasn’t around yet), this makes me think the TLM at 11 a.m. at the parish church which has Novus Ordos all around it (prior to and after) IS the PRINCIPAL Mass, and according to the 1962 rubrics, should have the asperges and vidi aquam, right? Incense makes it more solemn, right?

    Am I reading this right?

    Also, why does the FSSP, ICR and SSPX do it at the main High Mass at every single place I’ve attended, but then at certain diocesan venues, things become optional?

    Just wondering…

  31. Matt says:

    I think the rubrics in place in 1962 apply to the TLM at the moment. I could be wrong, but I think that since the NO was not around in 1962 it would not count towards the “Principal” Mass requirement. If your parish has multiple TLM’s on Sunday than the principal TLM would be the one that the “Sprinkling Rite” would be done at.

  32. inillotempore says:

    I am for anything that makes Mass more solemn in either the E.F. (My preference) or O.F.

    One could take a step further and note that the exorcism of salt and adding it to water and blessing of holy water could be done prior to the Asperges or Vidi Aquam. This is done in both forms of the Latin rite (although strictly not part of the liturgy).

    AM I am so very sad to hear of the ‘freedom from rubricism’ that you mention in the above post. Sadly what you describe seems to be the norm in the greater part of N.O. parishes where I come from (MA).

  33. Andrea Brown says:

    Ian, a belated thank you for your explanation.

  34. Sacristymaiden says:

    I love the asperagus pic!
    Reminds me of my little sister (age 3),when something clicked one night when we got pizza. “Oooh,Dominoes wobiscum!”

  35. C. says:

    I think the rubrics in place in 1962 apply to the TLM at the moment.

    They are, but as modified by “custom and usage” at celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass since 1962. See this letter from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. The Confiteor before Communion at Mass is one example of a custom or usage which is widespread in Traditional Latin Mass communities today, even though it violates a rubric forbidding the practice which was introduced in 1961. Another example, cited by the letter, is the law requiring Ordinaries to ensure strict physical separation of the sexes in mixed lay choirs at the Traditional Latin Mass–it is not customary for bishops to follow this law, though their intervention might be welcomed in some places.

Comments are closed.