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Low Mass, High Mass, Solemn High Mass

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#1 Gabriela Posted 18 August 2012 - 02:30 PM


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Believe it or not, I can't find an answer to this in Google, and my PM "Search" function isn't working.

WHEN does one celebrate a Low, High, and Solemn High Mass? I just went to the CRNJ's Low Mass (Latin) today, and saw for the first time on the back of their little Latin-English booklet that there's a difference. But now I'm wondering if the Mass tomorrow (Sunday) will be a High Mass. I was there at Christmas and New Year's, and I'm pretty sure those were High Masses. They were long and there was lots of chanting... Maybe they were Solemn, too. I dunno'.


#2 cappie Posted 18 August 2012 - 04:30 PM


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In the Missal that came out of the Council of Trent often called the Missal of Pope Pius V, there were two ways of saying Mass - the High Mass, and the Low Mass. The Low Mass was a basic Mass, with the bare necessities there was also a Missa Cantata, which is basically a low Mass with music but nothing more. The High Mass was a more solemn Mass, and it had music, and all the other "smells, bells, and whistles" as they say. :pope2: It also requires more servers and deacons assisting the priest saying the Mass. It was strictly regulated down to the way you incense the Altar the gifts etc, basically a more ceremonious way of saying the Mass.

In the 1960s, the Church decided to put together a new Missal with the intention of better helping those in our modern culture to experience the Mass. This Missal - called the Pauline Missal or, as you will see it very often called the Novus Ordo, which means "new order" - has been used since. In 2007 Pope Benedict issued a document which declared that both the old Mass, and the Pauline Mass could be said at any time. He said that the Pauline Mass would be called the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite, and the older Missal of Pope Pius V would be called the Extraordinary form.

The Pauline Mass - or Ordinary Form, as it is now properly called - does not have a distinction between High and Low Mass. You see, with the Extraordinary Form, there are very specific rules about what makes a High Mass and what makes a Low Mass. In the Low Mass, you could not have a deacon assisting, there was no music, no incense, etc. In a High Mass, you would have deacons,sub Deacons who often were priests, music, incense, extra candles and so forth. When they created the new Missal in the 60s, however, they did away with these strict requirements. They permitted the priest celebrating the Mass to choose whether to have music, or incense, whether a deacon would be assisting, etc., and he could mix and match. In other words, one could have a deacon but no music, or music but no incense. This isn't possible with the Extraordinary Form, which has very specific instructions about these various things.

So basically, you have the Extraordinary Form, which has High (music, deacons, incense) and Low (no music, deacons, or incense) Mass, and you have the Ordinary Form, which can have any number of combinations of the different ceremonious aspects of it.

Here are a few of the differences between the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form (there are more):
  • The EF MUST be said in Latin, the OF may be said in Latin or in the vernacular language of a place.
  • The EF REQUIRES the priest to face the altar, away from the people, while the OF permits him to face the people, which is how it is normally done in OF Masses.
  • The EF has several more prayers than the OF, which usually express the faith of the Church more thoroughly.
  • The OF is much more directly "interactive" than the EF. The OF has the congregation actively doing something most of the time, whereas in the EF the people will often be waiting in silence as the priest does something.

In summary:

As regards the Traditional Latin Mass or Extraordinary form, there are three basic types:

Solemn or High Mass - priest is assisted by a deacon and sub-deacon; parts of the Liturgy are sung or chanted by the priest and/or choir, incense is used.

Missa Cantata or Sung Mass - celebrated in the manner of a High Mass, but without a deacon or sub-deacon. It is therefore technically a type of Low Mass according to the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917.

Low Mass - no deacon or sub-deacon, priest does not chant, no incense. Music or hymns not integral to the Liturgy may be played or sung.

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