ASK FATHER: Prayers for putting on cassock, surplice

From a reader…


While vesting for Mass, a member of the clergy (at least in the EF; the priests I know do it for OF too) will say a set of prayers as he is putting the different vestments on. As un-ordained servers wear some of the same vestments (exs: the cassock, sometimes an alb), would it be appropriate for a server to say the prayers for those vestments?
(ex: [look… if you are going to abbreviate “for example”, how about using a standard form?  For example, “e.g.”] if a layman were to don an alb, would it be appropriate to pray the Dealba me, Domine prayer while putting it on?)

I don’t see any problem with any male reciting the prayers used when putting on these items.

However, to do it right, males should wash their hands before putting on any vestment, reciting the proper prayer:

Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendam omnem maculam ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire.

Give virtue to my hands, O Lord, that being cleansed from all stain I might serve you with purity of mind and body.

When putting on the cassock, a male should say:

Dominus, pars hereditatis meae et calicis mei, tu es qui restitues hereditatem meam.

O Lord, the portion of my inheritance and my chalice, You are He who will restore my inheritance.

When putting on the surplice, a male should say:

Indue me, Domine, novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est in iustitia et sanctitate veritatis. Amen.

Invest me, O Lord, as a new man, who was created by God in justice and the holiness of truth. Amen.


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  1. Geoffrey says:

    If using an alb instead of a cassock and surplice:

    Deálba me, Dómine, et munda cor meum;
    ut, in Sánguine Agni dealbátus, gáudiis pérfruar sempitérnis.

    Purify me, O Lord, from all stain and cleanse my heart,
    that, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, I may enjoy eternal delights.

    And when wearing an alb that requires a cincture:

    Præcínge me, Dómine, cíngulo puritátis,
    et exstíngue in lumbis meis humórem libídinis;
    ut máneat in me virtus continéntiæ et castitátis.

    Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity,
    and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence,
    that the virtue of continence and chastity may remain in me.

  2. jhayes says:

    Leaving aside the basic female altar server discussion, is there any official reason why a female altar server should not say the same prayers? – e.g., in churches where they wear alb and cincture?

  3. Gregorius says:

    I could never remember them. So when I served I read them off the card on the wall first, and then washed my hands and vested. Also a bit less awkward, when nobody else said these prayers…

  4. Lucchesi says:

    > [look… if you are going to abbreviate “for example”, how about using a standard form? For example, “e.g.”]

    Maybe the reader is not a native English speaker. For instance, in Portuguese “ex” is actually the preferred form, seldom “e.g.” outside of legal speak

    (I never figured “ex” wasn’t at least among the acceptable options in English)

    I don’t usually find “e.g.” in non-English texts. Since it stands for “exempli gratia”, is it also common in Latin?

  5. Imrahil says:

    There’s little wrong with prayerfully reflecting any part of the liturgical prayers, done, as a good Catholic, with the implicit intention “only insofar I as a layman can say that”.

    That said, the prayer over the surplice applies apparently to any Christian (even women, leaving aside the general question of women servers), playing as it does on the new garment due to Baptism.

    The prayer over the cassock, though, seems to draw specifically on the special position of the cleric who has no heritance in this world. While this, too, can in a spiritual sense be said of the Christian, it seems rather more apt for clerics, vested seminarians, and monks.

  6. Imrahil says:

    Likewise, the prayer over the cincture seems unapt for married ministers; at least they should leave the “continence” out (nod to Dr Peters).

  7. Kerry says:

    The ridiculous and silly wymen vestmests explained at last!

  8. Phil_NL says:


    Perhaps that last one is less suited for a lay man. After all, married lay men do not have to exercise continence and chastity in the way that an ordained man would. And quite a few unmarried lay men probably hope to switch to the married status as well in due course, making the prayer much more conditional. I, for one, wouldn’t use it.

  9. Sancta Missa says:

    Biretta Books has a card for the Vesting Prayers of the Altar Boys with the prayers in both Latin and English:

  10. Geoffrey says:


    Good point, though we are all called to the virtue of chastity, but in different ways, depending on our state in life. I would think that the words “continéntiæ et [continence and]” could be omitted by married laymen (and those planning to marry).

  11. pannw says:

    I love learning about these facets of the Faith that so few of us learn anymore. The Church is so rich with these treasures. There is so much I don’t know! As a female, I had no idea these prayers existed, until I started doing the altar linens for my parish. I was in the sacristy to pick them up after Mass one day a year or so ago, and the cabinet where the chalice is locked up was open, and on the inside of the door was a framed, very old piece of paper with a prayer on it. It was beautiful and I asked Father what it was for. It is the prayer for putting on the amice. “Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus” (Place upon me, O Lord, the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil). Fantastic. That prayer makes it occur to me that the amice goes well with combat boots!

  12. Nicholas says:

    I’ve heard slightly difference versions of these.

    Cassock: The Lord is thew portion of my inheritance, and of my cup, it is you who will restore my inheritance to me.
    Surplice: Put on me, O Lord, the new man created according to God, in justice and holiness and truth.

    But a year of saying these from memory might have made my memory slip.

  13. Elizium23 says:

    For women who have been commanded to wear cassock and surplice by their pastor, I suggest the following prayer:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

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