Monday, 26 July 2010

SERVING AT MISSA CANTATA (The Asperges Ceremony)

The Asperges Ceremony

If on a Sunday, the Asperges Ceremony is to take place before the main Mass, the Celebrant does not put on his maniple or chasuble until after the Ceremony. He wears a cope of the same liturgical colour as the other vestments. The chasuble and maniple are laid out on the sedilia. If there is no cope of the correct colour, the Celebrant wears only the state over his alb for the Asperges.
The full rite includes the blessing of water. If the Celebrant blesses the water before Mass, he first puts on his amice, alb, girdle and stole ready for Mass and then, in these vestments, blesses the water. After the Mc has helped the Celebrant to vest, He assists at the blessing of water. Once the water is blessed, he assists the Celebrant to put on his cape.
There may be two server to act the Celebrant's assistants for the ceremony.
After bowing to the sacristy crucifix, the First Assistant, if there is one, goes to the Celebrant's right, otherwise the Mc does so, and the Second Assistant to his left. They take hold of the edge of the cope and walk beside the Celebrant to the altar. Holy water is not taken at the sacristy door.
The Ceremony
When they arrive at the altar, the First Assistant receives the Celebrant's biretta and hands it to the Mc, or, if there is no First Assistant, the Mc receives it from the Celebrant. The Assistants and Mc genuflect together with the Celebrant on the floor before the altar steps and kneel on the bottom step.
The First Assistant takes the holy water sprinkler from the Mc and passes it to the Celebrant. When the Celebrant has intoned Asperges me, he sprinkles the altar with holy water and offers the sprinkler to the First Assistant who takes holy water from it with the fingers of his right hand. After the Second Assistant has received holy water in the same fashion, the Celebrant and Assistants stand, genuflect to the altar, and turn towards the Acolytes (and Thurifer), who are standing at the credence. While the Celebrant sprinkles them with holy water, the First Assistant, stands on the Celebrant's right, honing the edge of the cope off his arm. He will remain on the Celebrant's right, holding the cope, as the Second Assistant will remain on his left also holding the edge of the cope, until they return to the altar.
The First Assistant (or the Mc, if there is no Assistant) carries the holy water bucket. (1)
The Celebrant and Assistants then go to the Choir. They stand in the centre, turn to those standing on the Gospel side, bow to them, and the Celebrant sprinkles them with holy water. They then turn to those on the Epistle side and they are sprinkled in the same way. Strictly, those in Choir, supposing them to be clerics, are sprinkled before the servers at the credence, but this practice is little observed today and it is unlikely that there will be many clerics in Choir at a Missa Cantata.
The Celebrant, with his assistants, usually passes through the congregation, walking down the centre of the nave while the he sprinkles the people, sprinkling always to his left as he goes. Having reached the end of the nave, they return up its centre to the altar; again, the Celebrant sprinkling to his left as he walks. (2)
The Celebrant and those accompanying him pause and bow towards the altar when the Schola sings Gloria Patri, et Filii, et Spiritui Sancti.
When the the Celebrant, reaches the head of the nave, the sprinkling being finished, the First Assistant receives the sprinkler from the Celebrant. If they are being accompanied by the Mc or Thurifer, the First Assistant hands the sprinkler to him, otherwise, he carries it back to the altar and hands it to the Mc there.
On arrival before the altar, the Celebrant and his Assistants genuflect and the Assistants release the edges of the cope. The First Assistant receives the book containing the Prayer which ends the Asperges Ceremony from the Mc, and he and the Second Assistant hold it before the Celebrant, who is facing the altar, while he sings the final Prayer. At its end, the First Assistant returns the book to the Mc, the Celebrant, Mc and Assistants genuflect and the Mc accompanies the Celebrant to the sedilia while the Assistants, who have no further function go to their places.
The Mc assists the Celebrant to remove his cope, which is taken away by the Thurifer, and to put on his maniple and chasuble. When the Celebrant is ready, the Mc leads him to before the lowest step of the altar, they genuflect and proceed as at the Beginning of Mass.
Notes for the Asperges
(1) The holy water bucket may be carried before the Celebrant by the Mc or Thurifer, or the First Assistant may carry it; the last seems to me to be the better practice as too many people walking down the, generally, narrow walkway in the centre of the average church nave are likely to get in each other's way. The simpler things are kept in the liturgy, the better they usually work.
(2) Other practises are: (a) for the Celebrant to stand at the head of the nave facing the people, while he sprinkles first to his front, then to his right, and finally to his left; he, and the Assistants then return to the Sanctuary: (b) for the Celebrant and his assistants to go down the centre of the nave and return to the Sanctuary by way of a side aisle, the Celebrant sprinkling the people to his right and his left alternately.


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