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Ordo Missae of the 1962 Missale Romanum

Handbook for Altar Servers

by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen

  General Directions

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ALL actions should be done deliberately, thoroughly and without hurry, but not slowly. All the words should be spoken audibly, each syllable articulated, every sentence reverently pronounced.

The Hands, when serving, should be held together on the breast, palm to palm, with the fingers extended and close together pointing upwards, the thumbs being crossed right over left. When one hand is being used, the other should lie with the open palm upon the breast. When not employed the hands may be held merely folded together right over left against the front of the body at the height of the elbows.

Bowing is simple or moderate. A simple bow is made by bowing the head only; a moderate bow is made by bowing the head and shoulders.

Genuflections are single and double. A single genuflection is made by dropping the right knee to touch the ground near the left heel; a double genuflection is made by kneeling with both knees on the ground, a moderate bow being then made before rising.

Walking and Turning. All movements in the sanctuary should be noiseless and graceful. When two or more servers are together, they should move as one body. The rule for turning is: Never unnecessarily turn your back on the Blessed Sacrament. To observe this rule, remember, whenever you have to turn away from the altar, either by your right or left, always to turn back again the reverse way, so as never to turn completely round.

Lighting the Candles. to light the candles use a taper and always begin with the candle or candles on the Epistle side of the altar. When there are several candles to be lighted on each side, begin with the one nearest to the crucifix, and light in order from the topmost downwards.

To Extinguish the Candles reverse the whole of the above order, and begin with the candle or candles on the Gospel side of the altar, and, if there are several candles to be put out, with the candle farthest from the crucifix and lowest down, proceeding upwards so that the first candle that was lighted will be the last one extinguished.

The Bell is not rung by the server serving Low Mass at a side altar during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, or any solemn service at the high altar, or from the Gloria in excelsis on Holy Thursday until the Gloria in excelsis on Holy Saturday.

The bell is rung with the right hand as follows: Grasp firmly the handle of the bell, then raise and immediately lower it so as to sound two distinct strokes at each time of ringing. At the Sanctus and at each elevation and at the Domine, non sum dignus, three double strokes are rung. At the Hanc igitur, only one stroke of the bell is required.

The Thurible and Incense Boat are used as follows: Before the fire is blessed, i.e. on first entering the Sanctuary, or when the thurible is given back to the thurifer after incense has been blessed and used, he should grasp the chains with his LEFT hand just under the cap, letting the thurible swing freely backwards and forwards. In his RIGHT hand he should carry the incense boat in front of him at elbow level.

In order to present the thurible to the priest so that he may so that he may put incense on the charcoal, the thurifer first gives the incense boat to the Deacon (or First Assistant or the Master of Ceremonies as the occasion requires) and after raising the lid of the thurible by means of the ring at the top of the center chain, he grasps the chains just above the lid with his RIGHT hand and raises the thurible to the level of the priest's hands, taking care to place his LEFT hand holding the cap against his breast. After the priest has put the incense on the charcoal (and blessed it) the thurifer lowers the thurible, closes the lid and passes the thurible to his RIGHT hand. He then receives the boat with his LEFT hand and gives the thurible to the Deacon (First Assistant or Master of Ceremonies) with his RIGHT hand. While the thurible is being used the thurifer may put the incense boat on the credence table or transfer it to his RIGHT hand if he wishes to keep it with him. The thurifer receives back the thurible in his LEFT hand and stands in plano on the Epistle side swinging the thurible gently to and fro as before.

N.B. This edition of The Altar Server’s Handbook, originally published by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen a century ago, contains in its pages  directives which do not necessarily correspond to the 1962 Missale Romanum or the serving tutorial on the Sancta Missa website. The handbook is intended as a possible aid for parishes or individuals interested in implementing a similar guild.
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