Tridentine (Latin) Mass Definitions and Vocabulary

  • Asperges me:  This is a prayer which is intoned (started) by the priest and sung by the whole congregation before Mass begins.

    In this sung prayer, we ask God to cleanse us of our sins.  Since it is sung before Mass begins, it is not actually part of the Mass. 

    This beautiful sprinkling rite that the priest does every Sunday at High Mass for the entire congregation starts being sung at Whit (Pentecost) Sunday... but we switch to singing the Vidi aquam in place of this at the beginning of Easter and we sing Vidi Aguam all through Eastertide... until Whit Sunday again.  For a beautiful example of the intoning of this Mass by the priest... and the subsequent singing of it by schola and congregation... please take the time to view this video.  The Asperges here actually starts at exactly four minutes into the video... though if you watch from the beginning... you will see the excitement and anticipation which precedes Mass every Sunday when assisting at the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (aka Latin Mass).

  • The Ordinaries:  Those parts of the Mass which do not change from day to day.  Example:  Juduca me, Confiteor, Kyrie, Gloria, and then after the lesson or homily the Creed (Credo), Lavabo (washing of the fingers), Suscipie, Orate fratres (Pray brethren...), The Preface and the  Sanctus, The Canon (the Eucharistic Prayer which includes the Consecration), The Minor Elevation, The Lord's Prayer, The Agnus Dei, the Domine, non sum dignus (Lord I am not worthy), The Communion, Post communion, Final Prayers, The Blessing, The LAST Gospel (which is always the Gospel from the beginning of the book of John and is repeated at the conclusion of every High Mass).  There is great significance in the fact that this second gospel, if you will, is repeated at the end of every Sunday High Mass.

  • The Propers: Those parts of the Mass which do change every day and every Sunday.  I will italicize the parts which are sung by a schola. 

    Introit, The prayer preceding the 'Cleanse My Heart', the Epistle, The Gradual and then Tract or Alleluia(s), The Gospel, The Offertory Prayer, The Communio. This is not a complete list... consult a missal for more details.  Thus, you can see that there are usually FIVE sung propers for the old Mass.  Incidentally... these same propers can and should be used in the new Mass (Novus Ordo)... although occasionally with a slightly different order.

  • Schola:  Those people who have rehearsed the sung parts of the Mass and who stand and sing them.  Though the schola is intended to lead the sung parts of the Mass... singing is not reserved for the schola alone.  Faithful are encouraged to sing those parts of the Mass which are appropriate to them such as those parts of the ordinary and also hymns.  It is even not uncommon for someone in the congregation to sing along with a sung proper, though that is rare.  It ought to be pointed out that singing the propers is a more difficult for the man in the pew... since the propers change every Sunday.  Thus... if you plan to sing a proper from the pew then 'LISTEN LOUD'.  By this I mean... that by singing it too loud... you can throw a less experienced schola member out of tune unless you really know that proper verbatum

    The best way to know a proper verbatum is to have the musical notes in front of you... which is not a bad idea even if you don't sing.  I strongly encourage trying to obtain, little by little, the entire liturgical year in CD or MP3 format.  This is good EVEN FOR THOSE WHO DON'T SING.  Why?  Because you will find that as the winds blow, and as the seasons change from warm to cold to warm again... the beautiful melodic rhythm of the Church, which is ever ancient and ever new... will bring these sung propers into your head after the second year of attending the TLM

  • Canon of the Mass (and Following along in the Canon [Hat tip to Bob Collorafi.])   You may watch this happen via a YouTube Video.
    1. The very first  prayer of the canon is the Te igitur - in this prayer the priest makes the sign of the cross over the offerring at the haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta ('these gifts, these presents, these holy unspotted sacrifices'). Happilly, the missal marks with a big red cross where the priest does this.

    2. At the memento of the living (the second prayer of the canon) the priest will bring his hands together as he pauses to pray for those  he is especially remembering.

    3. At the fourth prayer of the canon, the 'Hanc igitur oblationem'  ('we beseech thee, O Lord, graciously to receive this oblation') the priest stretches out both hands of the offering as a sign the sins of the people are put upon it in sacrifice.

    4. Then comes the  consecration of the host, where the priest bows over the altar and says the words of consecration, which are then followed by a three-fold genuflection, raising of the Host for the people to adore, then followed by another genuflection.

    5. This same manner of movement is followed for the consecration of the wine.

    6. The next prayer, 'Unde et memores', has the priest making the sign of the cross four times over the consecrated species at the 'hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, etc.' (a victim which is pure, a victim which is holy, a victim which is stainless, etc')

    7. Two prayers later at the 'supplices te rogamus'  the priest makes the sign of the cross twice over the sacred species at the words 'corpus et sanguinem' ('that as many of us shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of thy son', etc)

    8. The priest in the next prayer brings his hands together again and pauses at the Commemoration of the Dead

    9. Then the priest strikes his breast once as he says aloud the beginning of the next prayer, 'Nobis quoque peccatoribus'  ('to us sinners, also', etc).  If you are totally lost... this is a great time to skip ahead or back up... as the priests always recites this short phrase audibly.  I have used this many times to get back on track.

    10. Then at the last two prayers of the Canon the priest makes the sign of the cross seven times at the 'sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis', etc ('thou dost always create, sanctify, quicken and bless', etc) , and at the 'per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso',etc ('through Him, with Him and in Him' , etc).

    11. Then he says the words 'per omnia saecula saeculorum' out loud ('world without end') to which all respond 'Amen' to signify the end of the Canon and the beginning of the Pater Noster
I hope this helps, and remember, the key is to watch all these movements of the priest and you'll learn in time to pray the canon along with him.

Definitions to Come

Preface to the Canon
All the various parts of the Mass (Order of the Mass)
  • Preparation for Before Mass
  • Asperges me or Vidi Aquam
  • Mass Begins
  • In Nomine Patris
  • Juduca me
  • Introibo
  • Confeteor
  • Indulgentiam
  • Auffer
  • Oramus
  • The Introit
  • The Kyrie
  • The Gloria (omitted during Lent)
  • The Prayer (Cleanse My Heart)
  • The Epistle
  • The Gradual
  • The Alleliua or Tract
  • The Singing of the Gospel
  • The Sermon
  • The Credo
  • The Offertory Proper and Offertory Prayers
  • Deus, qui humanae (Oh God Who established the nature of man...)
  • Offerimus
  • Veni, Sanctificator (Come, O Sanctifier...)
  • Lavabo (Washing of the Hands)
  • Oratre fratres (Pray brethren... usually a good audible sign)
  • ... List to be continued ... (so much to learn, so little time...)


The Secret  Prayer
Vere dignum