surplice or alb?

When is it proper for a priest to wear the surplice and when is it proper to wear the alb? Does the surplice take the place of the alb?

What exactly are you talking about? A Priest celebrating the Mass or a Priest concelebrating the Mass, or Priest assisting in the distribution of Holy Communion?

Thats what I want to know. When can he wear the alb. When is the norm? Does he wear the surplice when performing the sacraments but not while celebrating mass? Can it take the place of the alb?

I think he can wear a suplice when ever he wants as it is worn under the Chasubile In any event it is really just a shortened and simplified alb anyway. I’ve seen Priests use them along with a stole when they assist in distributing Holy Communion at a Mass they have not celebrated as well as at other sacramental functions.

There are several varieties of Surplices floating around. We wore them along with a cassock when I was an altar boy.

Two totally different functions.

The Alb is liturgical wear. A priest wears it under the chasuble (and stole) while celebrating Mass, etc.

The Surplice is choir wear. A priest wears it while attending a mass that he is not celebrating.

As for altar boys…the vestal protocol for them has always been less defined because in the tridentine days they were not ordained acolytes (in minor orders) or any sort of cleric…so they were really extraordinary ministers. The mean decided on was to have them wear a cassock and surplice. Sort of an odd decision, I think, but it worked and was aesthetically pleasing. Nowadays, lay participation as such is forseen by the novus ordo rubrics, so they, as ministers, usually wear the alb or nice clothes.

The surplice (worn in conjunction with a cassock) is also frequent attire of a priest when not celebrating the mass but serving as the Master of Ceremonies at a mass. Our priests generally prefer the Cassock and Surplice instead of an alb/stole while saying the Novena.

Actually in many places, including the cathedral here in San Diego, the altar servers still wear the surplice and cassock… I was always under the impression that the Priest could also wear the surplice should he choose to, in place of an alb as it was approved for ALL clergy to wear.

Oh well, live and learn.

For Mass, from the 2002 General Introduction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) which can be accessed from :
“114. … For it is preferable that priests who are present at a Eucharistic Celebration, unless excused for a good reason, should as a rule exercise the office proper to their Order and hence take part as concelebrants, wearing the sacred vestments. Otherwise, they wear their proper choir dress or a surplice over a cassock.”

“336. The sacred garment common to ordained and instituted ministers of any rank is the alb, to be tied at the waist with a cincture unless it is made so as to fit even without such. Before the alb is put on, should this not completely cover the ordinary clothing at the neck, an amice should be put on. The alb may not be replaced by a surplice, not even over a cassock, on occasions when a chasuble or dalmatic is to be worn or when, according to the norms, only a stole is worn without a chasuble or dalmatic.
337. The vestment proper to the priest celebrant at Mass and other sacred actions directly connected with Mass is, unless otherwise indicated, the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole.”

Ceremonial of Bishops, Chapter 4, General Norms:
*“Vesture of priests and other ministers
*65 … A surplice may not be substituted for the alb when the chasuble or dalmatic is to be worn or when a stole is used instead of the chasuble or dalmatic. When a surplice is worn, it must be worn with the cassock. …
66 Unless otherwise indicated, the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole, is the vestment proper to the presbyter who is the celebrant at Mass and other rites immediately connected with Mass. … Presbyters who take part in a liturgical service but not as concelebrants are to wear choir dress if they are prelates or canons, cassock and surplice if they are not.”

For a blessing:
“36. A priest or deacon when presiding at blessings celebrated communally, especially those that are celebrated in a church or with special solemnity, is to wear an alb with stole. A surplice may replace the alb when a cassock is worn; a cope may be worn for more solemn celebrations.”
(From Book of Blessings, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1875-8, page xxxi. Introduction).

For Communion outside of Mass:
“20. The minister of communion, if he is a priest or deacon, is to be vested in an alb or a surplice over a cassock, and a stole.”
(From Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass, published by E.J. Dwyer, Sydney, 1975, ISBN 0-85574-401-4, page 9. Introduction).

Exposition of the Holy Eucharist:
“92. The minister, if he is a priest or deacon, should vest in an alb or a surplice over a cassock and a stole. … The priest or deacon should wear a white cope and humeral veil to give the blessing at the end of adoration, when the exposition takes place with the monstrance; in the case of exposition in the ciborium, the humeral veil should be worn.”
((From Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass, published by E.J. Dwyer, Sydney, 1975, ISBN 0-85574-401-4, page 68.)

For the Liturgy of the Hours:
“The priest or deacon who presides at the ceremony may wear a stole over his alb or surplice. The priest can also wear a cope. On the major solemnities there is nothing to prevent several priests wearing copes and the deacons dalmatics.” (From Divine Office, published by E.J. Dwyer, Sydney, 1974, ISBN 085574233X, page lxxxvi. General Instruction, n. 255)

Good info, thanks. As I said, live and learn:thumbsup:

The easiest rule of thumb is, if the function calls for a cope, you can wear a cassock-surplice, if a chasuble, the alb.

I’ve always thought albs and stoles alone look sloppy and unfinished. In instances where neither copes nor chasubles would be worn, go with the cassock-surplice.

I think that a cassock with surplice looks best when the priest or deacon is wearing a stole by itself. A stole with the alb alone looks a little funny. But that is just a personal thought!

We have a priest who wears a white cassock sometimes. Then he can wear a chasuble over it (and it appears to be an alb) or a surplice for Novena. Other priests should be so clever.

I thought only the pope got to wear a white cassock.

I’ve always thought so, too. Alb and stole alone look kind of like the priest has just showed up in his undergarments.

The white cassock is commonplace in places such as India or Africa.

Hmm…so in a white Cassock there is no need for an alb or a sulpice?

Well, no…you would still wear a surplice if the situation warranted it, however, he wore it with a chasuble (because it is white, like an alb).

Hi! Related question. Is it proper (allowed) to wear surplice over an alb?

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