QUAERITUR: To clink or not to clink. WDTPRS POLL

From a reader:

I had the privilege of attending a wonderful EF Mass for Easter, and on the way back we were engaged in a discussion as to whether whoever is doing the incense is required to try to cause the chain to clink.
Is there a rubric regarding incensing and noise-making? I’d be curious about both forms.

Ah! The really important questions for the future of the New Evangelization! I consider this matter to be right up there with the proper use of the liturgical Berreta.

No, to my knowledge there is no rubric (in either the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form) that speaks to the clinking of the thurible against its chain(s) during incensation.

That said, I recall having read in one liturgical manual or another the author’s snarky comment along the lines that some find the noise pleasant. He, apparently, did not.  In fact, sometimes all you get is a grating clack.

If you are the sort of priest or deacon or server who likes to rattle the ol’ chain, as it were, you will know that it is easier to do (or harder to avoid?) depending on the design of the gadget, the quality of its materials, the length and therefore slack of the chains, etc.

Good incensation takes a bit of concentration, attention to detail, and practice. You can’t get in there and lob the flaming gizmo around. People get singed, carpets get burned, fire extinguishers are sought, mothers get angry, hijinx ensues.

It is, i believe in my heart, for this reason that His Hermeneuticalness holds extinguisher drills with his servers. QUAERITUR: Is H.H. notoriously bad at incensation? So the drills would suggest.  But I digress.

This is a good opportunity for a WDTPRS poll.

Pick your answer and give your reasons and comments in the combox. Whereas with less important questions, such as the relation of the two natures of Christ or whether Communion in the hand should be abolished, I ask people to refrain from engaging each other directly, since this is of such great significance, since we have to get to the bottom of the question once and for all time, go ahead and duke it out.

During incensation, do you like some noise (the 'clink' of the chain)?

View Results

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And then there’s this.


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  1. ivan_the_mad says:

    Clearly, we should consult the acknowledged expert in this field, Colonel Klink.

  2. Titus says:

    One sees from time to time the thuribles with little bells (supposedly twelve bells, but only eleven of which ring?), but is that not more of an Eastern thing? I certainly haven’t ever seen one used in person here in the U.S.

  3. Random Walk says:

    I actually expect to hear the thing make that sound with each swing (because ever since I was a kid I’ve always heard it do that, and over many decades in many parishes, it’s a constant).

  4. chantgirl says:

    In my old-school type church, the acoustics are so amazing that if you stand in the back of church (say, with an unruly toddler), the sound of the clinking incense bounces off the back wall and it sounds like it’s right behind you. It freaked me out the first time as it sounded like the Marley brothers were right behind me in church. So, if you’ve got one of those old-fashioned churches which were designed for the sound to carry, and you want to remind people of their impending death and judgment and possible eternal chains of punishment, by all means, clink away.

  5. dmwallace says:

    Since Byzantine thuribles have bells on them, Western thuribles ought to make some noise too! With this talk of incense, it brings new meaning to breathing with the “two lungs” of East and West.

  6. sawdustmick says:

    As one who is usually chief pyromaniac at the Easter Vigil, setting up the Easter Fire (I apparently am OK at building things with wood but VERY good at burning it!) I can assure everyone that there are much easier ways to singe carpets, bruise servers, and generally soak everyone once I wield my bucket of water after the fact !

    Nostalgia means I lean towards clink rather than no clink, I used to try and make it clink all those years ago when I served.

  7. irishgirl says:

    Yes-‘clink away’, I say! I would imagine that, in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, there was plenty of ‘clinking chains’ when the priests used incense!
    It’s such a ‘liturgical’ sound!

  8. kab63 says:

    It’s been so long since the priest has used incense in my parish that I hardly remember the clink, so my pro-noise vote should perhaps be disqualified.

  9. Glen M says:

    Fr, could you add a third option please? Something along the line of “No preference. Too appreciative of just being at an E.F. or reverent O.F. Mass.” [Quod scripsi scripsi. In other words, no, I will not add another option. Take a stand, man! Be brave!]

  10. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Perhaps this is a question of taste in the Roman Rite, but in the Dominican the rubrics specifically prohibit chain clanking. [Interesting!]

    The ductus is a simple vertical up and down, no double half-swing, no jerking, no clanking. Three simple up and down lifts for the Gospel, three simple up and down for the priest, two simple up and down for the deacon, one single up and down for the subdeacon and each acolyte. The only violation of this rule is at the Elevation, when the rising and lowering is “continuous” while the species is exposed to view (but still no clank). AND no incense is carried in the entrance or exit procession, and there is no incensing of the altar at the beginning of Mass.

    Once you get used to the quiet method, you realize that the jerky motions and noise of the “common use” are really a distraction.

  11. AlexE says:

    I do it for practical reasons, so we can keep count of how many swings down and how many to go. Well, I admit, I kinda like it too, I wouldn’t want bells on my thruible though…

  12. Nora says:

    Definitely a clink fan! The servers coordinate their bells and clinks at the elevation. After the Offertory, six clinks mean that the server has finished censing the congregation and it is time to bow, even if you can’t see him. Six clinks mean that it is time for the server facing the Blessed Sacrament to turn away and the one walking forward to turn to the Sacrament while doing processions. A pleasant and handy liturgical cue.

  13. smmclaug says:

    My humble opinion–which is really just a wild guess–is that people like the clinking because it means there’s actually some incense happening. It’s the association of the sound with something that they crave, that is, the formalized mysticism of Catholic ritual in its very highest expressions.

    As time has gone on, I find that a nice, quiet censer is my preference (though as an altar boy I always loved to make the little clinking sound, for the uninteresting reason that boys really like making sounds). The clinging sound isn’t irritating, per se, but it’s not necessary and in general, I prefer solemn quiet during such times (or the sound of chanting only). It’s also something I’ve never put an instant of conscious thought before now. So my real answer would be, “neither yes nor no,” but if pressed to give an opinion, then “no.”

  14. Gregg the Obscure says:

    When the clinking is audible it’s easy to get carried away with considering what would happen if the thurible were to come apart mid-swing.

  15. As a long-time altar server, I’ll echo Alex-E comment above about the practicality. (The following comments pertain to censing sacred ministers and at the Consecration; having never been ordained, I was never trained in the procedures for censing the altar.)

    When our acolytes were trained, the “clink” was required as simple way to ensure each swing of the thurible–not necessarily difficult if it’s just a single double, but when you get into triple-doubles and triple-triples, it’s helpful, especially for novices, to have a more precise counting method. Such practical pedagogy also dictated how we taught novice thurifers to cense at the consecration: a triple for the first genuflection, a triple for the elevation, and a triple for the second genuflection. Once you were a practiced thurifer, you could time the censing so that it was more continuously centered on the elevation.

  16. milhon1 says:

    In training servers at Franciscan University I found that the natural inclination of most men with a thurible in their hands was to get the best chink possible. One of our thuribles made a nice ringing sound if you got it just right; was a nice way of substituting for bells since we weren’t allowed to use them. :(

  17. Father K says:

    Bishop Peter Elliott in his excellent work ‘Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite” is definitely a non-clinker. I am an unashamed clinker on the principle that the liturgy should engage our senses – and while incensing why not engage the senses of sight, hearing and smell [and for the person doing the incensing, touch and in the EF speech]?

  18. plemmen says:

    My personal preference is for noise. During my tenure in the Orthodox church, I grew accustomed to thuribles with bells and clouds of incense, much more so than in western church use.

  19. Choirmaster says:

    The clamorous cacophony of the Byzantine’s (double) thurible, applied—as it is—in seeming competition with the swift chants of the Deacons, compared to the austere sobriety of the slight clink of the Latin thurible, makes this discussion seem rather humorous to me!

    Although I am a life-long Latin, the East ever appeals to my heart. To me, the slight clink of the thurible recalls the upbeat mood of the Eastern Divine Liturgy, a mood that should be so foreign to the Latin rite. But that is gross sentimentalism!

    Practically speaking I like the “clink” because I don’t have to be watching the ceremonies to know that the sensing is taking place. I also like the sound because, to me, it is part of the silence of the Traditional Latin Mass, and I have made mention of my love for this filled silence before.

  20. JohnE says:

    On a similar “note”, altar servers should let the ring of the bells dissipate naturally and not smother them. I cringe whenever I hear them choked off prematurely. The bells should only ring, not ringfuff. Seems like it might also be a good cue to the priest for how long to elevate the host.

  21. totustuusmaria says:

    The clink is nice. More than that, since it is done in 99 out of a hundred Masses at which I assist, I come to expect it. It’s distracted when folk don’t clink.

    Good ‘ole Clive Staples, of the Lewis Variety, tragically not a Catholic, commented on Liturgy saying that, in his opinion, the most important thing is that it done the same way every time.

    I have a great inclination to agree with him. The real prayer gets done in the action of the Mass and in the hearts of the believers. Novelty distracts. Consistency enables meditation and habitual intention. If 97% of people thought that there should be no clink, then I would stuff my preferences and ask that no one clink. But the poll reveals a statistic the other around.

    So, unless you happen to be in a Church which has a custom of not clinking, I would be careful not to cause wonderment by the absense of the clink.

    Clink. And clink proudly. We are Roman.

  22. mysticalrose says:

    Incensing engages the senses: we see the smoke, we smell it, we hear the clink. Clink on, I say.

  23. AnAmericanMother says:

    Another vote for the clink.

    One thing I do miss is the figure-eight, over-the-head, and behind-the-back 360 degree revolutions of our most enthusiastic Anglican thurifer virtuosi. Doubles just seem a little tame after that.

    But I think the Spaniards have us all beat.

  24. Angie Mcs says:

    I became Catholic a week ago and am overwhelmed at all the viewpoints on various issues in the Church, as well as things I need to learn. I didn’t ever consider the clinking of the thurible! At my church I believe there always is some clinking when incense is used, some weeks more than others. Its the amount of smoke that I wonder about. Between the hot lights, no air conditioning, their very heavy vestments and all that smoke, I do sometimes worry about the priests. I give them a lot of credit for carrying on so serenely. In my RCIA classes, I was taught the significance and beauty of using our human senses in the mass, and I find the clinking sound somewhat pleasant and comforting.

  25. disco says:

    I say clink away but maybe not so loudly (or at all) at the elevations at solemn mass?

  26. AnAmericanMother says:

    Angie Mcs,

    Don’t fret! It’s the same sort of attention to detail that any group of enthusiasts enjoys — just go with it, read and digest what you can, and enjoy the fact that Catholics care enough to get it exactly right.

  27. Random Friar says:

    According to the Dominican Rite, to put it mnemonically:
    As soon as the chain on the thurible clang,
    The soul hits Hell with a bang.

    With apologies to Friar Johann Tetzel, OP, of long memory.

  28. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Clinking is inversely proportional to the care/skill used in incensation. It needn’t be noisy, but I wouldn’t seek the excommunication of some blighter who banged it. We don’t slam Lectionaries shut, we don’t crash cruets into chalices, or drop processional crosses into bases with heavy thuds, do we? Why clink the links?

    [A “no” vote, then.]

  29. AloysiusJM says:

    I was always taught that we should make it “clink”

    But I like it, it grows on you.

  30. weneleh says:

    Thank you Father Augustine Thompson O.P. The classiest incensing I ever witnessed was from a Dominican priest and I loved that there was no noise. I’m still a noise-less fan, but there is plenty of clanking and clincking in my current parish. Oh well.

  31. Imrahil says:

    Yes: smelling, seeing, hearing, as it is fitting for a Holy Mass.

    Concerning the senses, we might add equilibrium. :-)

  32. DLe says:

    When I was first taught how to use a thurible, it was suggested that I not only clink the chains, but clang them. It wasn’t quite understood why that could happen, but the general idea taught was that if I swung the thurible hard enough, it would clang.

    When I was on my own as a thurifer afterwards (which includes present time), I opted for a light clink. Part of it was due to my difficulty in reproducing the clang (which was, I admit to my surprise, rather pure in tone and melodious, like a bell), but since I recently found out what caused the sound (the base of the thurible striking the chains), I rather prefer it out of personal preference. If you can get the clang to be consistent and graceful, then all the more power to you as a thurifer. For me, most people seem not to notice the different intensities of ‘clink’ so much as someone trying hard to ‘clang’ and clinking and clanging off and on.

    And while one can argue whether it is better to clink or not clink or be consistent in it or not–ultimately the focus is on getting incense to come out. How one kinetically achieves this seems ancillary to getting those clouds of smoke. (And boy, even the latter can be surprising sometimes: this year’s Easter Vigil my parish used a different blend of incense which burned extremely quickly, so despite my efforts to not swing the thurible at all there was no incense left from the thurible when the celebrant incensed the Gospel.)

  33. Tominellay says:

    I think clinking benefits people who don’t see too well, and it’s a comforting reminder of my childhood, when I heard and participated in so much clinking of the thurible; however, I think Dr. Edward Peters is right: I marvel at the skill of a practiced non-clinker…

  34. jbosco88 says:

    We have about eight Perfuming Pans at the Church where I serve (plus two enormous ones for processions). Some are antique numbers worth tens of thousands of pounds. Some are extremely delicate and shouldn’t be whacked against chains.

    Personally I like the noise, but clinking should be at the whim of the thurifer/Priest – he will know how the thurible is “behaving”. Noise reassures that incensation has occurred (and is a useful way for the choir to know when to begin the Benedictus, or how many extra verses of a psalm may need to be chanted before the Preface is due to begin).

    Plus, surely the gong used for consecration should drown out any noise the thurible makes in EF!

    Here we are discussing clinking of chains, when there are Priests who have never used a thurible. Surely there are better things to worry about and act on?

  35. asperges says:

    Clearly deliberate clanking for its own sake is not desirable, but to avoid it altogether seems quite contrary to what most of us have been used to and seems a bit puritanical. On the Continent, they tend to be more vigorous in their approach. It is part of the familiar sounds, especially of the old rite as it punctuates the beautiful silent canon so missed in the constant burble of the new.

    As a great fan of the Dominican rite, one of the few things that I regret (mildly) in it is the rather cautious use of the censer, which, as noted above, is specifically laid down in the rubrics to be carried out by a gentle up and down motion. My Maronite friends on the other hand have a terrifying yo-yo technique, flinging the censer around to the force of several Gs. Once seen, never forgotten.

    As a child locally at the cathedral, I do remember seeing bells on the chains in the Roman rite, but perhaps that was their best set for Easter, highdays and holidays. It wasn’t the norm. That would not suggest however expected silence.

  36. pbewig says:

    This is the way to swing a thurible.

  37. ajf1984 says:

    Definitely “to clink,” and woe betide any man serving at Mass who neglects this in his role as thurifer, or so I was taught by a priest particularly concerned with clinking!

  38. I voted for the clinking sound – love it. I love it when I can’t really see bc I’m short but I know what’s happening bc I can hear it and then the wonderful smell …ahhhhh. I love during Lent when my kids come home on Wednesdays after having stations at school. They smell lovely and a plaid jumper really holds the scent for a long time!

  39. Stu says:

    I stand proudly and say…

    I’m a clinkster.

  40. Dan says:

    When I used to MC High Mass in the EF, I made a point of “clinking” … our thurible was a traditional ‘4-chain’ version with plenty of slack. The center chain was brass, so when it hit the bowl of the thurible it made a loud, hollow ringing sound. It does help count the swings, and it employs another sense to draw attention to the sacred actions at the altar.

  41. Archicantor says:

    I’ve gone with “no clink” mainly because there wasn’t an “I don’t mind either way” option, and I would wish to set straight any thurifers who think that the chains must clink.

    I had to endure for a few years a weekly “meditative Eucharist” in which the server doubled as a thurifer at the consecration. I witnessed two different servers who had evidently been taught that the main purpose — even the sole purpose — of the thurible was to make noise at the elevations, and each server developed his own unique way to do this:

    (a) One would hold the middle of the chain and swing the thurible wildly out to the front three times in the hope that the disk and the bowl would bang together loudly.

    (b) The other would hold one end of the chains in each hand and bang the disk against the bowl three times as one would clash a pair of cymbals.

    Neither method was especially edifying, and option (a) frequently made me cast my eyes round the church for a Hermeneutical fire extinguisher.

  42. lucy says:

    Finally a less serious subject! Thank you for posting this. It’s so easy to get really downhearted with all the heavy news these days.

    Chantgirl – amen! I love your analogy about thinking about not wanting to go to hell and forever hear those chains that would bind us.

    I love the clinking noise. If I’m lost in prayer, it’s nice to be drawn back to the altar and to know exactly where we are in the Mass. I’m a convert and enjoy all the little details of the traditional Mass. Love the incense, too. Clink on!

  43. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    This is really very much a matter of Local Custom. In many parts of France the incensing is done holding further up the chains than in Rome, and swinging the thurible silently in arcs, or in some places in horizontal circles, (The Benedictine abbeys I have seen tend to do the latter.) One still sees this commonly in France. Sometime it was really down to a single diocese (as with chant and so many other details) with minute differences of great antiquity. Much of this is now lost in the last 50 years. So sad.

    The other lovely French thing is the full-circle swing in processions of the Blessed Sacrament, (surviving, ripped from its roots, amongst the Anglicans). This looks nowadays like a camp nicety, but was actually constant and ancient custom in some places – sometimes circles of both thurifers together, sometime alternating, sometimes continuous, sometimes walking backwards. These were not, as today, arbitrary choices of the servers who wanted to put on “a show”, they were following local customs.

    Even amongst “chinkers”, there is variation: the dropping of the thurible against the loose chains (Roman), an the bouncing off the chain held tight. Again, nowadays we all do our own thing, once we would have followed a standard local practice.

    The of course, at Santiago, quoted by “An AmericanMother” above, (as also at St Paul’s Cathedral in London until the Reformation!) there is the great swinging “botafumerio”, with its own complex rules for its liturgical use, (though today more that often does as a tourist attraction after Mass.)

    That is Tradition.

    Apologies if this repeats other comments, no time to read them all.

  44. ReginaMarie says:

    Clink…absolutely. Additionally, we Eastern Catholics like our bells…the incensor having 12 bells for each of the Apostles…one bell being empty for Judas.

  45. Dominic Maria says:

    I have always found it handy for co-ordinating bells and incense. Though i do also like a noisy thurible, the last thurible I bought even had the eastern bells on it!

  46. Pax--tecum says:

    Well, we should make “a joyfull noise for the Lord.” The clanking of the chains enables us to hear the incense being used, even if we can not clearly see it. The smell, especially in larger churches, takes some time to reach the back of the church. So the sound of the chains adds an aspect to the incensing in order to be able to use as many senses as possible (I think we should not taste the incense (it’s so hard that it would break your teeth!) or feel it (it burns!)).

  47. celledoor says:

    I believe clinking is a good idea but it has to be done right. For one it helped me when I was a little one and couldn’t actually see much of what was going on.

    What I mean by doing it right.. I grew up (in the late 70’s early 80’s) with the Ordinary form of the mass spoken in Latin (church has since changed direction after the retirement of the then Pastor). So it was a church that didn’t mess around. You knew every altar boy meant business: every shoe black and polished, every step purposefully planted, every hand gesture carefully orchestrated, hair neatly combed. Watching those guys you knew there was a church militant. So when they used the thurible, they did it with purpose. Three clanks for the Father, followed by three clanks for the Son, followed by three clanks for the Holy Spirit. It was done quickly, it was done with the least bit of effort. Which to my dismay when I finally got to be thurifer, I found that this was harder than I had imagined which is probably why I never hear it done that way to this day.

  48. Jim of Bowie says:

    Clinking is an essential element of Catholic identity.

  49. Bthompson says:

    When I am a thurifer I don’t go out of my way to clink the chain, but not do I avoid it. It generally happens, though, and I do like it that way. I have had priests who expressly tell me NOT (they were surprisingly passionate about that…) to clink the chain and modify the swing to avoid such. I have never had any priest tell me to make sure I do clink the chain, but they themselves are clinkers.

  50. Liz says:

    Wow, I had no idea…I couldn’t even vote because I never noticed so I don’t know.

  51. MariaKap says:

    I’ve often told this story to friends. When I was a child, our parish had a priest who had really learned how to incense. Fr. M. could get a good swing going on that thurible with several pleasing thwacks. And then: the piece de resistance – he would finish with a full 360 turn and our heads would roll around following the swing and then the circle. My brothers and I loved it! We’d sit there thinking, “thwack” – wait for it….”thwack” – wait for it…. “thwack” – almost…..THERE SHE GOES! A full 360 degrees! It was amazing. We loved the smells and bells…and thwacks. Total sensory involvement. Especially after the deprivations of Lent. What a feast it was at the Easter Vigil and then during the Easter Season at our parish!

    This was so special for children especially who don’t “get” all that may be going on or who perhaps may not understand the deeper meanings of readings and ritual. But they CAN be involved through the experience of their senses. Full, active participation right? We exclude these things to our detriment. You want to pass on the faith? Teach it, yes. But we make it harder for young souls to find the transcendant if they never get to experience the transcendant at Mass.

  52. Alice says:

    Years of research have revealed that the amount of clinking is directly proportional to the highness of the liturgy. SO, for chanted Easter Mass in the Ordinary Form with all the bells and whistles, the priest should put a few bells on the chain, but silent incensing for Benediction and Our Lady of Wherever devotions on a weekday night.

  53. RuralVirologist says:

    At the OF parish (back then the Only Form) where I grew up there was a lot of clinking. And in our next parish. Having been to the EF at a nearby SSPX chapel, I noticed that there is no clinking there. Hopefully the clinking will return, by order of HH Pope Benedict XVI, with the forthcoming reunion.

  54. FranzJosf says:

    One thing this convert likes about the older style of Catholic worship (as opposed to the Protestant laundry list-worship, where everyone does the same thing at the same time, and then it is neatly checked off) is the softer, rounder edges and the flow, the confluence, the various tributaries that meet at given places.

    One such moment at Benediction:

    All at the same time: we’re worshipping Our Lord, we’re kneeling, we’re singing the second verse of O Salutaris, accompanied by a unobrusive, yet sturdy organ, incense rising, the chink of the thurible chain. For some reason, I always find it very reverent and moving. Other worldly.

  55. mwk3 says:

    As a young lad I always thought the mark of good incensation was making a strong clinking sound. However, when I was older I served with a priest who was a former Anglican and quite opposed to the ‘Gallic clank’, and I began to realise that there is something more elegant in quietly swinging the thurible.

    However, I have no strong aversion to clanking, though I think the opinion of an FSSP priest-friend of mine is an interesting rule: clank as much or as little as you’d like, but do NOT do so during the consecration.

    And yes, Father, some thuribles are notoriously hard to keep from clanking, or vice-versa!

  56. JMGriffing says:

    Of interesting note, since the East keeps getting mentioned, is that most Russian churches have two thuribles. One has the bells. The other does not. The belled one is used from Pascha to Pentecost. The other is used any other time.

    But, if not belled, I say let all mortal thuribles keep silent.

  57. Mike says:

    I often serve the EF High Mass twice per month in my diocese’s Latin Mass community as the Thurifer. I do find that it is difficult – and I’ve had lots of practice – to make the chain clink against the side of the thurible. I do try to have the chain make contact with the thurible. This seems to be the way in which it is most often done – and I like it – I try to imitate it. Nobody has told me that I should do it one way or the other. I have just observed what is done and try to copy it. We have no Deacon or Subdeacon, so it is left to the Thurifer to incense the priest after the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and at the Offertory as well as the people at the Offertory and the Blessed Sacrament at the time of the Elevation. Thankfully, the thurible does not have bells (I’m not a fan of bells in the Latin Rite – despite the fact that some priests do have them).

  58. billriccio says:

    Like many things in the Roman rite, this probably had a practical application (like the lifting of the chasuble at the elevation) or at least a “practiced” one. In the EF there are times the thurible must be swung in a triple-double (three double swings), double-doubles, and single doubles, as will as singles, all having to do with the rank of the person or the thing incensed. The clinking of chains helps count, especially amongst the more scrupulous of thurifers, not to mention clergy. As long as the thing is done properly, clink or don’t clink, your choice.

    Conventual rites such as the Domincans don’t have this problem because their practice was to raise and lower the thurible without swings.

    Just a thought….

  59. jflare says:

    I actually don’t have much of an opinion from a liturgical viewpoint, so I guess I’ll offer a fairly practical thought:
    On any occasion that you have two or more objects in motion in one direction, but at least one of these objects being used to halt the motion of at least one other and both caused to move in the opposite direction, as happens when swinging a chain, you’re going to wind up with SOME amount of noise, unless you’re using something in cloth. Maybe.

    We could make an argument, I suppose, for the ability of a skilled server to avoid the noise by means of more gentle transitions, but I doubt if the servers would necessarily bother with it routinely. Even if you pressed hard for it, the fact remains you’d still have SOME noise.

    I think so long as they don’t make a production of it, let them clink.

    ..And make sure the chain has been maintained well, else you may wind up with a CLUNK!
    (On the floor)

  60. Philangelus says:

    I commented a while ago in a secular forum about the really cool “censer-fu” done by a priest at a local parish in my old city. Someone else replied with a description (Eastern Orthodox) of that 360-degree swing with an open cover, so you could see the glowing red coals in the censer (thurible?) and how awesome that was. She also said different seminaries apparently taught different censing techniques?

    Censer-fu is cool. The clanking noise only makes it cooler.

  61. ReginaMarie says:

    Philangelus: You might also witness the 360-degree swing at an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy. Our youngest son’s godfather, a Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic priest, is known to do 360s during the DL. Never heard the term censer-fu…cool.

  62. When I’m thurifer, I clink. I’m a mathematical/rhythmic person…clinking assists in that :)…

  63. iPadre says:

    I like the clinking when the charcoal is dead and there is no smoke, and yet, people begin coughing. What a hoot! It fools them every time.

  64. CaliCatholicGuy says:

    Definitely Clink. It immediately takes me back 17 years ago when I was an altar boy. Monsignor told us to make sure we clink the chains – it helps the old ladies with poor eyesight to know what was happening (not sure if he was kidding). In any event I’ll take any incense I can get, clanking or silent.

  65. ReginaMarie says:

    Since the topic is Liturgical “clinking”…during the Divine Liturgy, the priest taps the 4 sides of the diskos (paten) on which rests the prosphora (bread to be consecrated for the Holy Eucharist) with the asterisk (small, folding metal covering which keeps the veil & Aer from disturbing the particles of bread on the diskos) as he prays: “…though there stand beside Thee thousands of Archangels, tens of thousands of Angels, Cherubim, and Seraphim: six-winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft, borne on their wings, singing, shouting, and crying aloud the triumphal hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts…”

  66. Stephen Matthew says:

    For a variety of reasons I am at one and the same time in favor of engaging as many of the sense as possible, and against clinking the chain. If you want your thurible to make noise, get one with bells on it. (I like the Byzantine way of doing this.) Slapping the chain against it creates a noise which is unpleasant, and it is not good for the finish on the metal of the thurible or for the life of the chain. It seems to me a case of a negative thing being given a positive spin. It may be inevitable in some cases, but I would generally avoid it where possible. Plus many of the times the incense is being used, there is music going on which should be providing the auditory experience.

    So my vote, either do it silently or do it with a censor with bells, but stop slapping/grating the chain.

  67. Tim Ferguson says:

    I prefer a clinking thurible, except, of course, in the Dominican Rite (the secret subtitle of my JCL thesis on customary law was “The Smoking Thurible,” as I used the Dominican Rite flourishes utilized at St. Dominic’s parish in San Francisco as examples of contrary customs).

    I prefer either clinking or no clinking to Sr. Julie Belladonna and her Dancing Thurifettes in gossamer gowns with clay bowls and eagle feathers.

  68. Matt R says:

    My priest and I like to clink…that’s the way we’ve found to get the best swings w/ the best technique; wrist motion is essential. I almost want to help the deacons, and definitely need to help the other boys, who struggle with using the wrist, versus the shoulder and arm.

  69. Blue Henn says:

    I like the clinking of the chain, it’s what I’m most used to. The clink I like best is the one that seems almost accidental or perhaps natural, nice and quiet and seems to just flow from the action of swinging. :)

  70. Scarltherr says:

    I love the incense, accompanied by bells, not clanking. When my nephew is home from Seminary he is our smells guy. He is very good at the solemn, quiet use of the thurible. I have heard the clank. Don’t mind the the clank. But if we are talking bells and smells, the two are distinct.

  71. Andrew Rota says:

    Not sure whether I prefer the Dominican style of simply raising and lowering the thurible quicety, or the ringing I’ve always known from the Roman Rite. I guess I prefer each in its own setting.

  72. q7swallows says:

    Yes, if I am lost in silent, ACTIVE participation, the incarnational ‘clink’ calls me back to the incarnational demands of the Liturgy.

    A Latin (intra-church convert to the TLM) hanging out currently in the Eastern Church, I have found that even Zaccheus stuck in the middle of a crowd can follow the progress of the procession in the mind’s eye and bow at the correct times thanks to that sounding censor.  

    I  DO appreciate the clink.

  73. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    Klinking is good. The Ice Queen (evil liturginazi nun at the seminary) said that klinking was bad. Therefore, klinking is good. Q. E. D. [Pretty good argument, actually.]

  74. ArtND76 says:

    I like the clink. For the sake of others with more severe breathing problems, I prefer less rather than more incense (I prefer to be only slightly incensed!!).

  75. sirknight says:

    Clink please! It reminds me of the gentle ringing of the altar bells appropriately during the particularly Sacred times in the Mass. An attention grabber is sometimes needed!

  76. Bill Strom says:

    I think the Novus Ordo people should use the Greek incense, since they are the most open to change. Especially for Easter they have some really beautiful scents. Instead of “modernizing” the Novus Ordo maybe we could “Greekerize” it :)

  77. CMRose says:

    The Byzantines get bells, we just get clinks. I like what we get.
    I like lots and lots and lots of incense, but real incense. The good smelling incense that rises. The stuff at the typically Novus Ordo parish makes breathing hard. The good incense typically used in Fraternity parishes and other EF parishes is delightful and doesn’t induce Asthma attacks.

  78. Francois de Cal. says:

    I have a close friend who is a seminarian at the FSSP seminary in Denton right now and when he trained me for thurifer he specifically took the time to note that “…you need to clink the chain. It’s the aesthetic for the thurbile; if you don’t clink, it’s not proper.” Obviously he said this in the ‘unwritten rule’ manner, but I’m assuming that clinking is the mentality held by the FSSP priests, or at the very least, the seminarians in Denton.

    As others have noted too, our Eastern brethren have bells on their thuribles, and who knows–maybe this very important question could be the deciding factor for Orthodox communion with Rome. ;)

  79. Ben Yanke says:

    I’m always a clinker.

  80. James Locke says:

    I go to an EF mass in Virginia every Sunday and they clink there. While it is not taught per se to the acolytes, they do seem to all do it with few exceptions. Now, in my own opinion, the clinking falls into a lovely category called “sounds of the Mass” and it is a sound not often heard in real life. Therefore, for me, it helps with my state of mind while in Mass.

  81. Sancrucensis says:

    I have heard it said that the Byzantine bells are to scare demons away. This seems to fit with the idea of incense as a purifying agent, which we have in the West as well. Therefore clang away!

  82. mike cliffson says:

    No clinks, but grunts ,swishes, pulley squeaks,and indrawn breaths

    The solution is …ta chan…

  83. Centristian says:

    As to the Botafumiero video, the completely disinterested expression on the Holy Father’s face is beyond priceless. Actually, his expression seems rather more to convey a sense of wanting it to be over. “Yeah, that’s…interesting…are we just about done with that?”

    Second to that would be the Lefebvrist Mass video showing a boy’s choir that just sits silently in the choir stalls as an unvested chorus of adults sings, elsewhere.

  84. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    In East Rome, we generally like our smells and our bells combined, but I recently attended an Orthodox Vespers service for the Annunciation and the protodeacon was using a censer sans the bells (since it was during Great Lent, which is a practice some churches have adopted). We did hear some clinking though, but only when he slowed down the spinning.

    Personally, I will just be grateful when the use of incense becomes normative again for Sunday Mass, clinks or no clinks!

  85. Bill Russell says:

    Banging the chain against the thurible is simply in bad taste. French purists in a past golden age, betraying their view that the Irish are not paragons of liturgical sensibility, referred to the practice as “the Hibernian clank.” It was not a compliment. If a thurible is made of silver or some other considerable material, clanking scratches it. If you want, attach bells a la Byzantium. But to make a ritual practice out of an accident is like requiring a certain number of sneezes. coughs or worse.

  86. Michelle F says:

    I voted in favor of making the chain clink. I think it is appropriate since, as other posters pointed out, the Eastern Churches have bells on their thuribles.

    Also, the clinking (and the belled thuribles in particular) make me think of the vestments of the High Priest of the Temple. In Exodus 28:33-35, the Lord told the Israelites to put bells on the bottom edge of the High Priest’s vestment.

  87. Dominicanes says:

    Dominicans don’t clink, clang or bing. In fact, we don’t really swing! The Dominican way of using the thurible is very restrained and dignified. Once you get used to it and seems the only right way! My brother, Fr. Augustine Thompson, says that Dominicans don’t incense the altar at the beginning of Mass. This isn’t quite correct. It is so for the Dominican Rite but most of the time Dominicans offer the Roman rite and the brethren do incense the altar at the beginning of Mass.

  88. GrogSmash says:

    Veni, vidi, clinki.

    (I came, I saw, I clinked.)

  89. I like the whole bells and smells scenario… clinking is classy. I have also hot photographic evidence of Fr. Z wielding a mean thurible… though no videos, not yet…

  90. That was meant to be “I have GOT photographic evidence”… damn predictive texting!!

  91. wmeyer says:

    Mulier Fortis: If you simply said “I have photographic evidence” you might avoid the ungrammatical form which arguably led to the erroneous text. ;)

  92. Mike Morrow says:

    I clink, therefore I am.

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