QUAERITUR: Nuptial TLM questions

Folks… I don’t have time for this right now… can you help?

From a reader:

This summer, our diocese of ___ will see its first Extraordinary Form Liturgy since…well, probably since Vatican II.  The Mass will be a Nuptial Mass for two of my good friends.  I am merely wondering about the rubrical guidelines for a sung wedding Mass.
•    Is the Asperges done before the Mass, directly after the Nuptial Blessing or not at all?
•    How many servers, at minimum are needed for this particular form of the Sacred Liturgy? 
•    I know the engaged both would like incense, but is this permissible and is incense used at any point during the Blessing?
•    What is sung by the choir and what is omitted by the server?
Fr. Fortescue’s book has started to hurt my head in trying to get it all squared away!

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  1. Supertradmom says:

    If I can help a little, having been married in the Trad form: Firstly, we had a master of ceremonies to help with the congregation, indicating when to stand and sit quietly. No Asperges. No incense at the blessing, which I have never seen. We had a priest aiding the Bishop who said the Mass, but was not familiar with the Mass. We had no hymns, but Gregorian Chant, sung by a choir. They sang Marian chants we chose as well as the parts of the Mass, propers, etc. As many of our guests were non-Catholic, we did not have a participatory Mass. This occurred at the Brompton Oratory, which is known for being precise according the liturgical usage. By the way, the processional and recessional were Bach pieces. The most wonderful thing for me was the traditional blessing of the bride, when we went into the sanctuary and I was blessed. It is very beautiful and moving.

    I highly suggest that you contact St. John Cantius in Chicago, as the choirmaster and liturgist, who I have spoken to about various things, as total experts in TLM weddings.

  2. Supertradmom says:

    sorry, are not as in the last sentence…

  3. Joshua08 says:

    1. The Asperges is done at the principal Mass on Sundays (excepting Palm Sunday), not on any other day

    2. Depends. I am assuming a Missa Cantata, that is, just the priest and no deacon or subdeacon? Both Fortescue and O’Connell give to general outlines. See a sung Mass without deacon/subdeacon historically is much like a low Mass, and can be served as such, or it can be served more like a solemn Mass.

    So in theory one server, but two would be more helpful. If you want incense you need at least three, but more likely 4 (two acolytes, an assistant to the priest, and a thurifer). You could also have torchbearers, though the acolytes can also fulfill that (in which case the thurifer does their job at the ablutions, etc) or use both acolytes and some extra servers for torches (so anywhere from 2 to 6 torches)

    3. Since 1958 incense is permitted always at a sung Mass (it is always required when there is deacon/subdeacon). It must be used just as at Solemn Mass.

    4 The choir sings ALL the following (not just what they want, but all). Introit, Graduale, Offertory, Communion, Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei as well as any chanted responses (et cum spiritu tuo, Amen, Deo gratias at the end…but NOT Deo gratias or Laus tibi Christe after the readings those are always quietly said by servers). During the Mass they can add hymns/chants/motets after the proper chant is finished, when there is still time (though silence is always an option)…for example during the offertory or communion but it must be in Latin. In addition they may sing something in the procession or at the recession, in vernacular or Latin.

    5. Describing the simpler form for serving sung Mass, Fortescue et al. has

    “The first way supposes no serves but two acolytes, or even one. In this case the ceremonies are almost the same as at low Mass…The only differences are these: The servers do not say those responses which the choir sings. When the celebrant sits at the seat…the acolytes go to the middle, genuflect, then go to the sedilia. The first acolyte arranges the chasuble over the sedilia then hands the biretta to the celebrant with the usual kisses…”

    The same rule about responses holds true for the more solemn form, where there is an MC and thurifer.

    Any way, there is a lot more obviously involved

  4. Fr. John Mary says:

    I would suggest using the ‘blue book’ (our affectionate name for it) which is an up to date description of the 1962 Mass and Sacraments based upon O’Connell and Fortescue by Alciun Reid.
    There should be all in the information you need for the Marriage Ceremony and Mass. It is probably made availabe by the website The New Liturgical Movement or sanctamissa.org.

  5. Fr. John Mary says:

    Sorry for the typos: it should be “Alcuin Reid”.

  6. jantoniello says:

    Wow…that was put up quick! Thanks Father!

    Having been to only one EF Mass (and it was a Low Mass), I am quite unaware of how the music is sung during the Mass. When are the hymns sung? Just in between the Mass parts or what?

    Fortescue’s book says that no Gloria is sung during the wedding Mass. Did that change since the 12th edition was published? Since it is a wedding, will there be a procession of the servers and priest, and then the wedding party?

    The EF gets so complicated sometimes…I can’t wait!

  7. C. says:

    As far as what is sung by the choir and what is omitted by the Schola at Sung Mass, the Parish Book of Chant has an Extraordinary Form ordinary which is easy to read, even if it doesn’t include the music for the celebrant and some of the more obscure preface tones.

  8. C. says:

    should read: omitted by the servers

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    When are the hymns sung?

    Vernacular hymns are not sung during a Missa Cantata — though one can have a vernacular processional before Mass and a vernacular recessional after it — only the Latin ordinary and propers, perhaps Latin offertory and communion motets by the choir. (Is there any exception to this?)

  10. BakerStreetRider says:

    I was married this past summer in the Extraordinary Form. It was great! I’m so glad you’ll be doing it too–it is an experience you won’t forget. We did a solemn high Mass. I assume you will be doing a Missa Cantata?

    Asperges is not done.
    However, I spoke with an FSSP priest about the Gloria, who told me that it is optional. So, if you want it, you can do it.
    The schola/choir must sing the propers of the Mass, as well as the Kyria, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and responses.

    If you know any FSSP priest, perhaps you could speak with him about it. They do E.F. weddings all the time, and can give very helpful advice.

  11. BakerStreetRider says:

    Oh, and about hymns…as Henry Edwards said, vernacular hymns may not be used during the Mass, but can be used during the procession before the introit, and/or during the recessional after the Last Gospel. Latin hymns can also be sung at this time.
    However, Latin chant hymns and/or motets may be used throughout the Mass. The most common places for them are during the Offertory, after the Offertory propers, and during Communion and the purification of the vessels, after the Communion propers have been sung. Also, it is usually right after Communion that the couple honors Our Lady by leaving a flower or candle by her statue, or something, if you choose to do this optional act of piety.

  12. Joshua08 says:

    The Gloria is not optional, and is required. It was not so in the pre 1962 Missals, but with the simplification of rubrics it became so.

    I quote the rubrics

    341. By a votive Mass of the 2nd class is meant a votive Mass which may be celebrated on all liturgical days of the 2nd , 3rd and 4th class. The Mass for bride and bridegroom and the Mass of thanksgiving on the 25th or 50th wedding anniversary are prohibited, however, on all Sundays.

    342. Votive Masses of the 2nd class, provided for by the general rubrics, are:
    a) the Mass at the solemn blessing of a church or oratory, and at the consecration of an altar (no. 345);
    b) the Mass of the rogations on the greater and lesser litanies (nos 346-347); c) votive Masses on the occasion of the Forty Hours devotion or some other exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (nos. 348-355);
    d) Masses of the external solemnity of feasts (nos. 356-361);
    e) The Mass on the day of the coronation of the pope and on the anniversaries of the pope and of the diocesan bishop (nos. 362-365);
    f) A Mass for a matter of public importance (pro re gravi et publica simul causa) (nos. 366-368);
    g) The Mass “for the propagation of the Faith” (no. 369);
    h) Masses on certain special occasions (nos. 370-372);
    i) Votive Masses at shrines (nos. 373-377);
    j) The votive Mass “for Bride and Bridegroom” and the Mass of thanksgiving on the 25th and 50th wedding anniversary (nos. 378-382).

    343. The privileges of votive Masses of the 2nd class are:
    a) they are said Gloria, unless violet vestments are used; but without creed, unless it is said by reason of an occurring Sunday or octave;
    b) they admit of only one commemoration, and they exclude a collect ordered by the local ordinary;
    c) the collect of the impeded votive Mass is added under a single conclusion to the collect of the Mass of the day, provided a day listed under nos. 1, 2, 3 and 8 in the table of precedence does not occur; the prescription at no. 380 is observed, however;
    d) if they are sung , the solemn tone is used.

    344. Votive Masses of the 2nd class are governed by the general norms mentioned in no. 343; but the things proper to each Mass are indicated below.

    I am not sure what the FSSP was thinking when they said optional. Second class votives, not in violet, have the Gloria, period.

  13. Joshua08 says:


    That is St. John Cantius’ guideline, but note the answer about the Gloria is simply incorrect. Aside from when violet vestments are used, the Gloria is used at all 1st, 2nd and 3rd class votives. The rule he gives is only of 4th class votives, namely of the Angels and Our Lady on Saturday which also get the Gloria. I have emailed Fr. Haynes about it, and he has noticed the error and said he would correct it, but I am sure he is busy

  14. I have served Solemn High, and also Low Nuptial Masses. Feel free to email me (address available on my blog) if you need any help and are frustrated (as I was) trying to read through the rubrics.

  15. Peter says:

    The previous posters have covered the questions as put, but I’ll add a couple of other observations and suggestions.

    If it is a low Mass with singing, then vernacular hymnody may be used.

    Traditionally the marriage ceremony occurs BEFORE Mass, in contradistinction to the practice in the Ordinary Form. (the rubrics presume this but I suspect as with confirmations conferred in the EF that it has also occured within Mass)

    After the marriage, the couple are, for this one Mass, able to be seated in the sanctuary.

    I have seen incense used for the blessing of the rings (can’t recall if it happened at our wedding). The bride and groom are incensed separately from the other faithful at the Offertory.

    It is possible for the new prefaces for the nuptial Mass to be used in the EF. We had one of these, which is very good on the purpose of marriage. However don’t rely on the ICEL (mis)translation – get a competent latinist to translate for you – or you can email me for a translation of that preface – thygesen AT optusnet d0t com dot au

    (For details about the use of new prefaces as advised by the Ecclesia Dei Commission see: http://saintbedestudio.blogspot.com/2007/04/more-decisions-of-ecclesia-dei.html )

    It is also possible for the Mass following the marriage to be the feast of the day, with the blessings conferred within the nuptial Mass given at the appropriate place.

    You can get a marriage missalette from the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei which is quite nicely done.


  16. moon1234 says:

    My wife and I were married in 1999 at St. Mary’s in Rockford, IL by Canon Brian Bovee. He is an ICRSS priest. It was a Missa Cantat with two servers. The video is on youtube, if you are interested, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uXURX5y4eE&feature=PlayList&p=0959578BA95A34C8&index=0&playnext=1

  17. Greg Smisek says:

    Peter wrote: “It is possible for the new prefaces for the nuptial Mass to be used in the EF.”

    You are referring to a private reply giving an administrative opinion regarding the implementation of Ecclesia dei adflicta (1988). Strictly speaking this reply bound only his Lordship, and only then before Summorum Pontificum (2007), which replaced “[t]he conditions laid down by the previous documents Quattuor abhinc annos and Ecclesia Dei for the use of this Missal” (art. 1).

    In his explanatory letter to the bishops, which accompanied Summorum pontificum (2007), Pope Benedict wrote:

    …the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The ‘Ecclesia Dei’ Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard.

    If the Commission is to “study the practical possibilities in this regard,” then it is clearly not a resolved matter. Perhaps the Commission would give the same reply to a bishop posing the same query today, but the Holy Father’s words indicate that this ought not be assumed to be the case.

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