Tuesday, 27 July 2010

SERVING AT MISSA CANTATA (The Thurifer at Missa Cantata)

The Thurifer at Missa Cantata


Hold the thurible by putting the little finger of the hand in with which you are carrying it through the ring on the top of the thurible and passing the thumb of the same hand through the ring at the top of the drawing chain; in this way, with a little practice, you will be able, by raising or lowering your thumb, to open and close the thurible with one hand, while your other hand is occupied with holding the incense boat.

For a younger server, whose hands are too small for him to do this with ease, it is better for him to hold the thurible by grasping the chains by the top; if he is small he can also hold the chains about half way down with his other hand. In this case he will not be able to hold the incense boat and provision for this to be available when required will have to be made by the Mc (1).

The thurible may be swung either from side to side or forward and back, but should aways be swung gently; it should under no circumstances be swung violently and never above waist height. The function of a Thurifer is to carry the thurible and keep it burning until it is needed, not to draw attention to himself.

Procession to altar

The Thurifer always leads the procession to (or from) the altar carrying the thurible, unless the Asperges or some other rite at which the thurible is not required will precede Mass.

Preparatory Prayers

When you arrive before the altar, genuflect and go to stand near the credence table and remain standing there during the Preparatory Prayers.

Incensing of altar

After Preparatory Prayers, join the Mc and the Celebrant on the footpace of the altar and hold out the open thurible (see Diagram 5) while the Celebrant puts incense into the thurible. During the censing of the altar take the Missal from the altar until Celebrant has censed where it stands (2). After the altar has been censed, stand beside the Mc at the Epistle side of the altar while the Mc censes the Celebrant, then take the thurible away, either to the sacristy or, if there is a stand by the credence table, you may leave it there.

Introit to Gloria

Once you have put the thurible aside, go to stand at your place near the credence table. Sit when the Celebrant sits during the Gloria in excelsis Deo, bow at Iesu Christe, suscipe deprecationem nostram and again at Iesu Christe, and stand again when the Celebrant does so.

Collect to Alleluia/Tract

During the Epistle, go to collect the thurible. If it is on a stand nearby, you only need take it at the end of the Epistle, but if you need to go to the sacristy to get it, give yourself sufficient time to get to the sacristy, collect the thurible and return with it so as to be back in the sanctuary in time for the imposition of incense which follows the Alleluia, etc.


When the Celebrant returns to the centre of the altar, join him and the Mc on the footpace and hold up the open thurtble for him to put in incense. The thurible should be kept held up and open until the Celebrant has blessed the incense. Then take the incense boat back from the Mc and go and wait in the centre in front of the altar with the Acolytes until the Mc comes to join you. Genuflect with the others and go round to the Gospel side of altar and stand there between the two Acolytes. Hand the thurible to the Mc. Wait until the Celebrant has censed the Missal then receive the thurible from the Mc and stand gently swinging it during the singing of the Gospel. Lead the other servers to the front of the altar and genuflect together. Put the thurible aside, either on the stand, if there is one, or return it to the sacristy and go back to your place by the credence table. If there is no Sermon or Credo, do not return the thurible to the sacristy as it will be required almost immediately for the censing of the altar at the Offertory.


If there is a sermon, sit for it.


During the said Credo, if there is one, stand in your place until the Celebrant sits down; Genuflect at Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: et homo factus est when the Celebrant does so. Sit when the Celebrant does. Bow when Et incarnatus est, etc. is sung if you are sitting, but kneel durin them if you are still standing when they are sung. (3) and bow at simul adoratur. When the Celebrant stands, stand up.


After the Celebrant has put wine and water into the chalice, go to stand on the footpace vith the Mc for incense to be put in thurible as before.

During the censing of the altar take the Missal from the altar until the Celebrant has censed where it stands (2). After the altar has been censed, stand beside the Mc at the Epistle side of the altar while he censes the Celebrant.

Wait until the Mc has gone to stand at his place by the Missal, and when he has turned to face you, bow to the Mc, cense himf'and bow again (4).

Turn to face towards the credence table, wait until the Acolytes have finished washing the Celebrant's fingers and have both returned to the credence table, and when they turn and face you, bow to the First Acolyte and cense him, bow to him again and repeat the procedure with the Second Acolyte, or you can bow once to both Acolytes together, cense each in turn and bow to both together again.

At the centre of the sanctuary, genuflect to the altar, and go to face those servers seated, in choir, on the Gospel side of the chancel, bow to them and cense them with three single swings, bow to them again, genuflect to the altar at the centre and stand before those servers who are seated on the Epistle side. Cense them in the same way as those on the Gospel side. Go to stand at the centre of the altar rails (or where they should be, and in the same way), cense the congregation with three single swings, bowing, once only, to them before and after censing them.

Go back to the centre of the sanctuary to meet those servers who are to carry torches. Genuflect with them and lead the Torchbearers to the sacristy to collect their torches.

Secret to Consecration

At the start of the singing of Sanctus, carrying the thurible, lead the Torchbearers, with their lighted candles, back to the sanctuary, genuflect with them, and return to your place by the credence table where you stand, gently swinging the thurible. At Hanc igitur the Mc or one of the Acolytes puts incense into the thurible ready for the Elevation.

Consecration to Communion

When the Mc kneels, kneel on the bottom step on the Epistle side and cense the Blessed Sacrament (5). After the last genuflection rise, go to the centre before the altar, genuflect - on two knees, as the Blessed Sacrament is now on the altar - and take the thurible to the sacristy, return to the sanctuary, genuflect on two knees and stand near the credence table with the Acolytes.


After the Celebrant has said Domine non sum dignus, if you are to receive communion, go to kneel on the edge of the footpace with the other servers. Once you have received the Sacred Host, go back to your place by the credence table and kneel there.
If you are not to receive communion, kneel in your place at the words Domine non sum dignus, and remain kneeling until the end of communion.
Once the Blessed Sacrament has been placed in the tabernacle, rise, go to the centre, genuflect with the Torchbearers and lead them back to the sacristy to put away their torch candles. Lead them back to the sanctuary, genuflect together and return to your place by the credence table.
Ablutions to end of Mass
As Thurifer you have no further function until the endof the Mass. Kneel for the Blessing, and stand for the Last Gospel, genuflect at Et Verbum caro factum est.
After Mass
Immediately the Last Gospel is finished, go to the centre, to the part nearest to the way out, and stand there between the two Acolytes ready to lead the wayback to the sacristy. Finally, genuflect when the Mc gives a signal to do so and lead the procession to the sacristy in the same order as at the start of Mass.
Notes for the Thurifer:
(1) There is no provision in the rubrics of the 1962 Missal for a boat bearer; the Thurifer should himself carry the incense boat. However, if the Thurifer is a small boy who will need both hands to manage the thurible, the Mc might feel it advisable to have another boy to carry the boat. In this event, the Boat Boy's normal position is beside the Thurifer, except when he is at the altar. It always looks ludicrous, and is unnecessary, to have an adult acting as Boat boy.
Alternatively, if the Thurifer is too small to manage both thurible and boat, the latter could be left on the credence table, and one of the Acolytes can then pass it to the Mc when it is required.
(2) The Missal can be moved by the Thurifer or by one of the Acolytes. The Mc will tell you before Mass who is to move it.
(3) Properly, only those standing at the time when the words Et incarnatus est, etc. are begun kneel for the chanting of them; however, it has long been the custom in England and Wales for all except the Celebrant (and the Sacred Ministers at High Mass) to kneel even after they have sat. Do what the Mc tells you to do.
(4) Censing: there are two methods of censing: with double swings and with single swings.
Double Swings: to cense with a double swing, with your right hand raise the closed bowl of the thurible up level with your face, grasping it just above the cover. Hold the rest of the chain quite taut with your left hand, held at about waist level, and with your right hand throw the bowl of the thurible in the direction of the person you are censing and allow it to fall back against the chain, repeat this movement and then lower your right hand to waist height. This is one double swing.
The Celebrant is censed (by the Deacon at High Mass) with three double swings, i.e.: this basic movement repeated three times, the right hand returning to waist level after each double swing. (The Deacon and Subdeacon at High Mass are each censed with two double swings.) Any individual who is censed alone, e.g.: the Mc, is censed with one double swing. The Acolytes should be censed individually with one double swing each.
Single Swings: to cense with a single swing, hold the bowl of the thurible at waist level with your right hand while your left hand holds the chain and throw the bowl of the thurible straight in front of you in the direction of the persons you are censing and allow it to fall back against the chain, repeat this movement, but now towards the right, and again towards the left.
This method of censing is used for groups of people who are censed together, e.g.: servers in the choir stalls, the congregation (it is also how the Priest censes things).
Bowing: before you cense anyone, bow to them, and bow again after you have completed the censing.
When you are censing a group, only bow once straight ahead, to the whole group, before you cense them, and once more after the censing. Do not bow three times, centre, right and left, which is neither correct nor elegant.
(5) At the Elevation, the Blessed Sacrament is censed with three double swings at each Elevation. You will probably find it convenient to time each double swing so as to coincide with the ringing of the bell; thus, the first time the bell is rung, at the first genuflection, cense the Blessed Sacrament on the altar with the first double swing, at the second bell, when the Celebrant raises the Sacred Host, cense the Host with the next double swing, on the third bell, at the second genuflection again cense the Blessed Sacrament on the altar with the third double swing. Repeat this procedure the next three times the bell is rung for the Elevation of the Chalice. You will have to pause for a moment before the last genuflection, as you will have to wait while the Celebrant puts the pall on the Chalice.


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