Solemn Mass

Solemn Mass (Latin: missa solemnis) is the full ceremonial form of the Tridentine Mass, celebrated by a priest with a deacon and a subdeacon,[1] requiring most of the parts of the Mass to be sung, and the use of incense. It is also called High Mass[1] or Solemn High Mass. However, in the United States the term "High Mass" is also used to describe the less elaborate Missa Cantata, which lacks deacon and subdeacon and some of the ceremonies connected with them.

These terms distinguish the form in question from that of Low Mass and Missa Cantata. The parts assigned to the deacon and subdeacon are often done by priests in vestments proper to those roles. A Solemn Mass celebrated by a bishop has its own particular ceremonies and is referred to as a Solemn Pontifical Mass.

Non-Tridentine Solemn Mass

In the 21st century, the term "solemn Mass", capitalized or not, is increasingly used instead of an analogous celebration in the post-Vatican II form of the Roman Rite of Mass, in which case it has been defined as "a high Mass in which the priest is assisted by two deacons".[2] The functions that the two deacons carry out are indicated in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the 1989 edition of the Ceremonial of Bishops,[3]

The terms "Solemn Mass", "Solemn High Mass" and "High Mass" are also often used within Anglo-Catholicism, in which the ceremonial, and sometimes the text, are based on those of the Sarum Rite or the later Tridentine Mass. Lutherans (mainly in Europe) sometimes use the term "High Mass" to describe a more solemn form of their Divine Service, generally celebrated in a manner similar to that of Roman Catholics. Examples of similarities include vestments, chanting, and incense. Lutheran congregations in North America commonly celebrate High Mass more or less,[4] but rarely use the term "Mass".[5]

This article deals only with Tridentine Solemn Mass as regulated by the rubrics of editions of the Roman Missal published between the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council.