What are all these "Types" of Mass?


Visiting several churches’ pages, I have come across a ton of different Mass types.

There are, for example: Sung Mass, Latin Mass, 1962 Missal, High Mass, Low Mass, Solemn Mass, … and even combinations of some of these I believe.

Can anyone explain what they are or where I can get a list of them and what each of them is?

Thanks :slight_smile:


I’ll try.

Sung Mass – I’d expect an Ordinary Form Mass (what we’ve had since Vat. II) that is mostly sung by the priest and choir, although the laity is often encouraged to sing along. The Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, etc.) may well be sung in Latin. I experienced such Masses on July 14 & 21, with Masses in Italian and French, respectively, but the Ordinary in Latin Gregorian Chant.

Latin Mass – That term is deceiving. It could mean either an Ordinary Form Mass in Latin or Extraordinary Form Mass – what we had just before we went to the vernacular after Vat. II.

1962 Missal – That’s the Mass of John XXIII, the Mass we had just before Vat. II.

High Mass – That’s a sung Mass of John XXIII.

Low Mass – Mass of John XXIII without singing (although you might still have an entrance and recessional hymn). It would be the average daily Extraordinary Form Mass.

Solemn Mass – If they are using the term properly it would mean a Mass of John XXIII, celebrated with many priests, some whom assume the role of deacon, subdeacon, etc. We rarely saw that in small parishes unless we were witnessing the first Mass of a newly ordained priest or a priest’s funeral.


1962 Missal and Latin Mass, as a point of reference, occurred at the London Oratory of St Philip Neri, who do in fact celebrate the Extraordinary Form, you can see the list here:

Hope that makes things clearer.


That church belongs to the Oratorians. They place great emphasis on celebrating the liturgy well. To take their Sunday timetable:

8.00 am No description - probably on OF Mass with no singing
9.00 am (1962 Missal) - probably an EF Low Mass
10.00 am Family Mass (with choir - during school term) - OF Mass with singing
11.00 am Solemn Mass (sung Latin) - OF Mass in Latin with full ritual, e.g. incense, etc.
12.30, 4.30 and 7.00 pm - probably the same as 8.00 am

8.00 am (Latin, 1962 Missal) - an EF Mass the word Latin is not really necessary - it must be in Latin
6.00 pm (Latin) - OF Mass in Latin

Basically when they say 1962 Missal they are referring to the EF Mass. ‘Latin’ with no other description is an OF Mass in Latin. ‘Solemn’ will have deacon(s), full complement of servers, incense, torches, singing, almost certainly a choir.

I hope that helps.


While it’s true that Solemn High Mass before the reforms was rather rare, nowadays if you attend certain oratories, parishes, monasteries, etc. There is more chance that Solemn mass with a deacon and subdeacon will be offered on a semi-regular basis. For example, most ICRSP locations have solemn mass at least once a month, and sung/high mass every sunday. In places like clear creek monastery, there is a DAILY Solemn High Mass. I hope to visit clear creek sometime soon!!! :smiley:


The Solemn Masses about which the OP enquired are OF Masses.


1962 Missal, Mass of John XXIII are the Extraordinary Form(or Traditional Latin Mass)

The Ordinary Form of the Mass, doesn’t really have a concept of Low Mass, High Mass or Solemn High Mass, because the rubrics are in such a way that you can kinda, “mix-n-match”. So you can have incense, but the mass is all spoken, or you can have the mass all sung, but no incense, you can have a deacon but no singing, etc.

You’ll hear a OF Mass, sung in Latin, with incense, bells, and Chant and Polyphony etc. called “Solemn”, I suppose it is, but there really isn’t anything in the Rubrics indicating that this means “Solemn” in the OF.

The Extraordinary Form on the other hand, the rubrics are more detailed and “strict”. There are 4 expressions of the Mass.

Low Mass( also called Missa Lecta, Missa Privata, dialogue mass, etc.) Is a mass in which the prayers are read not sung, there is neither Deacon nor Subdeacon, there’s only 1 or 2 Acolytes(Altar Servers), two candles are lit on the Altar. There is no incense, or Solemn procession, with Candles and Crucifix. The Priest comes in with the Sacred Vessels There can be a choir, but they don’t sing any of the propers, instead they sing Hymns. Since the 1940’s the congregation has been encouraged to reply along with the Altar Servers at certain responses, but this isn’t mandatory, and may vary from parish to parish, usually these are called “Dialogue” Mass, but they’re still ultimately Low Mass. This probably, the most common form of Weekday worship for EF communities, or Sunday Worship for Mission EF communities.

High Mass( also known as Sung Mass, Missa Cantata) this is a Mass in which the audible prayers are sung, the Propers and Ordinary are sung by the choir too, there are usually 4 or more Altar Servers, there’s incense, six Candles are lit on the Altar, the Sacred Vessels are on the Altar. But there is no Deacon and Subdeacon, so the Priest sings both the Epistle and the Gospel. This is probably the most common form of Sunday Worship for established EF communities.

Solemn High Mass, is everything I described in the High Mass, plus a Deacon and Subdeacon( usually Priests who vest"down"), with the exception that the Sacred Vessels aren’t present on the Altar, but are on the Credence table until the Creed, when the Subdeacon transfers them to the Altar. Common form of Worship on Solemnities, anD Feast Days, for well established EF communities. Maybe regular be Sunday Worship for other some.

Finally we have the, Pontifical Solemn High Mass, this is the fullest, and ideal, expression of the Mass, in the EF. It includes everything described above, plus we have Deacons of the Throne, the Throne( the seat of the Bishop), and sometimes an Assitant Priest. Also the Bishop, I believe, sings the Collect and Post Communion prayer from the Throne, not the Altar.


Awesome, thank you! :slight_smile:

I must go to London sometime soon again, and when I do, I shall make sure I attend Mass at the Oratory. Preferably the EF they say, but as they are very focussed on reverence, I should like to see their OF too. :slight_smile:


Oh yes, please do so, the group of Oratorians here in my city are technically attached to the London Oratory, and from what I hear there very reverent, with their OF or EF.


What about polka masses? :p


You may laugh, but for a while in the late ‘70s my home parish had banjos in the “folk” group. Mass was foot stompin’, hand clappin’, good fun for all!

In all seriousness though, it is important to remember that each “type” of Mass has the same basic format. Beginning–Liturgy of the Word–Liturgy of the Eucharist–Ending (or sending). This has been the same since the 1st century in one form or another.


A 1958 Instruction at adoremus.org/1958Intro-sac-mus.html had:

  1. There are two kinds of Masses: the sung Mass (“Missa in cantu”), and the read Mass (“Missa lecta”), commonly called low Mass.
    There are two kinds of sung Mass: one called a solemn Mass if it is celebrated with the assistance of other ministers, a deacon and a sub-deacon; the other called a high Mass if there is only the priest celebrant who sings all the parts proper to the sacred ministers.

From the 1967 Instruction Musicam Sacram at vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_instr_19670305_musicam-sacram_en.html :

  1. The proper arrangement of a liturgical celebration requires the due assignment and performance of certain functions, by which “each person, minister or layman, should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of the liturgy.”[5]
  2. The distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained, according to the traditional liturgical laws at present in force. However, for the sung Mass (Missa cantata), different degrees of participation are put forward here for reasons of pastoral usefulness, so that it may become easier to make the celebration of Mass more beautiful by singing, according to the capabilities of each congregation.
  3. There is no reason why some of the Proper or Ordinary should not be sung in said Masses. Moreover, some other song can also, on occasions, be sung at the beginning, at the Offertory, at the Communion and at the end of Mass. It is not sufficient, however, that these songs be merely “Eucharistic”—they must be in keeping with the parts of the Mass, with the feast, or with the liturgical season.

Other translations of these, from the book Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1982, ISBN 0-8146-1281-4, pages 1298 and 1300 are:

“28. The distinction between the solemn, the high, and the low Mass, sanctioned by the 1958 Instruction …”
“36. Any one of the parts of the Proper or the Ordinary in a low Mass may be sung. …”


[quote="bcuster, post:11, topic:334913"]
You may laugh, but for a while in the late '70s my home parish had banjos in the "folk" group. Mass was foot stompin', hand clappin', good fun for all!

In all seriousness though, it is important to remember that each "type" of Mass has the same basic format. Beginning--Liturgy of the Word--Liturgy of the Eucharist--Ending (or sending). This has been the same since the 1st century in one form or another.


Or, the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful.


Sung Mass can mean generally any Mass that is sung, but typically refers to, in the EF: a Solemn Mass or Missa Cantata (which literally means sung Mass) which is essentially the same as a Solemn Mass but with only a priest.

Latin Mass: usually means EF, sometimes a OF in Latin.

High Mass usually refers to Missa Cantata on its own EF

Low Mass: read Mass EF

Solemn Mass: a sung Mass in the EF with a priest, deacon and subdeacon


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