# low vs high

Yeah! I can finally ask my question!

What or who determines low versus high masses? The priest? The calendar?

I went to my first EF mass and had a hard time with it. It was low. I’d really like to experience the high mass.

The circumstances. A High Mass( by which I mean one with a deacon and subdeacon) requires pretty substantial resources, which most parishes cannot supply, particularly three priests who know how to say the EF Mass properly, as well as a complement of servers, the books, vestments, incense, choir, etc.

A Missa Cantata is still technically a low Mass, as it has only the priest, but it has music and incense and such.

The general formula is daily Mass=low, sunday/feast day Masses=High/Cantata. This may be different depending on the knowledge of the priest.

I only mean to correct one point in this reply, which is that, according to my understanding, anway, neither deacon nor subdeacon participate in the High Mass. When deacon and subdeacon are present, then it is a Solemn High Mass.

Also (and now I don’t mean to offer correction, just more info for the OP) it is a Pontifical High Mass when a bishop is the celebrant and a deacon and subdeacon are present.

Now what I’d like someone to clarify for me is this: what type of Mass is it when there are (in addition to the celebrant) three or more deacons/subdeacons? Is this just a Solemn High Mass with more than one deacon and subdeacon?

I’ve been under the impression that only one deacon and one subdeacon may assist the priest in the EF. I think if there are more than one man possessing those orders, he would fulfill the role of a lower order.

A true High Mass always requires a priest, deacon, subdeacon. However, because in the United States arranging that was difficult, what we called the “High Mass” (one priest, sung Mass with choir) was really just a sung low mass. And in order to differentiate this “High Mass” with a true High Mass, we invented the term “Solemn High Mass”.

In truth, there are only three kinds- Low (which can be sung or said) High (Priest, deacon, subdeacon) and Pontifical (Bishop)

Thanks for the information. Could you point me in the direction of some materials that might treat this topic at greater length? I’m still a bit unsure about this because I notice that even traditional societies of priests like the Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King (neither of which were started by American clergy) distinguish between their own “High Masses” and “Solemn High Masses” and “Pontifical High Masses” that they offer, and when they offer Mass with a deacon and subdeacon, it is called “Solemn High Mass.” When Mass is offered by one priest and incense is used, the choir sings, and the priest sings/chants each part of the Mass that can be sung or chanted, they call it “High Mass.”

What did you have a hard time with? The regular Sunday Mass I attend is a low Mass and I too had some trouble at first. I found that after a couple times of observing you’ll begin ‘get the hang of it.’

Whether the Mass is sung or not essentially depends on what resources are available. At minimum, in order to have a “High Mass” (I’m using the term in the colloquial sense here), there needs to be a priest who is willing to sing, and at least a small choir. It’s definitely preferable to have High Masses as often as possible on Sundays and holydays, but it seems that most churches which offer the EF work out some sort of regular schedule that corresponds to their capabilities, e.g. High Mass on the first Sunday of the month or something similar. In the final analysis, it would be up to the priest. If you ask the regular attendees at the Mass, they can probably tell you if and when that church has High Masses.

A High Mass is either sung or solemn. The latter includes a deacon and subdeacon (or priests acting in these roles). A Sung Mass (Missa Cantata) is the celebrant singing the Mass, usually with incense included. There is an MC and a thurifer, in addition to the acolytes.There is no such thing as a sung Low Mass.

The 1960 rubrics actually stopped using the term Solemn High Mass and simply used Solemn Mass. However, term Solemn High Mass is still commonly used by the masses (no pun intended).

It generally takes about three times before you get the hang of the TLM. At least, that has been my experience and the experience of those I have introduced to the Extraordinary form of the Mass.

Stick with it

Pax Tecum,
zach

From the old Catholic Encyclopedia

This high Mass is the norm; it is only in the complete rite with deacon and subdeacon that the ceremonies can be understood. Thus, the rubrics of the Ordinary of the Mass always suppose that the Mass is high. Low Mass, said by a priest alone with one server, is a shortened and simplified form of the same thing. Its ritual can be explained only by a reference to high Mass. For instance, the celebrant goes over to the north side of the altar to read the Gospel, because that is the side to which the deacon goes in procession at high Mass; he turns round always by the right, because at high Mass he should not turn his back to the deacon and so on. A sung Mass (missa Cantata) is a modern compromise. It is really a low Mass, since the essence of high Mass is not the music but the deacon and subdeacon. Only in churches which have no ordained person except one priest, and in which high Mass is thus impossible, is it allowed to celebrate the Mass (on Sundays and feasts) with most of the adornment borrowed from high Mass, with singing and (generally) with incense. The Sacred Congregation of Rites has on several occasions (9 June, 1884; 7 December, 1888) forbidden the use of incense at a Missa Cantata; nevertheless, exceptions have been made for several dioceses, and the custom of using it is generally tolerated (Le Vavasseur, op. cit., I, 514-5). In this case, too, the celebrant takes the part of deacon and subdeacon; there is no kiss of peace.

This is true. I attended a pontifical high mass yesterday. It was the first in the Archdiocese of Denver in over 40 years. We are fortunate to have a bishop who frequently says the TLM.

My understanding is that the Missa Cantata had incense ONLY with an indult–but one that seemed to be liberally granted.

Indeed. I have never attended a Missa Cantata without incense

on the back of the latin-english booklet missal the following is found:

Low Mass: Quiet Mass
Two lighted candles on the Alter.
One priest who dose not sing.
No prayers of the mass are sung or chanted.
A Choir may sing hymns, or there may be no singing.

High Mass: Sung Mass or Missa Cantata
Six lighted candles on the Alter.
One priest, who chants or sings various parts of the Mass.
Priest intones the Gloria and Creed, chants Gospel, Preface, and Our Father.
The Proper prayers: Introit, collect(s), Offertory, and Post communion are chanted by Schola or choir.
Choir sings Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Angus Dei.

Solemn High Mass: Sung Mass with Full Cerimonial
Six lighted candles on the Alter.
One priest assisted by Deacon and Subdeacon.
Instructions for the Congregation are the same as for the High Mass with one priest.

I hope this helps out.

Thanks Josh, I knew I had seen that before. I googled like crazy and couldn’t find it, and I come back and there it is lol.

Yes, but the 1960 rubrics, which are what the 1962 missal uses, allowed this across the board, ending the need for an indult.

Juan Carlos
I would be interested in reading the source from which you draw your information. Is there ready access to the Church’s liturgical instructions on this point about LOW, HIGH, & PONTIFICAL Masses. And also, is there a hard copy (readily accessable) of the exceptions made for the Untied States in this regard. Thank you.
PS I’m just curious. I like to read and study anything relating the the founding of the Catholic Church in the United States.

Just look at my quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia

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