Christmas Midnight Mass entrance procession question
  • AMAJ
    Posts: 25
    The norm at my (OF) parish during the entrance procession of midnight Mass is for the procession to stop and kneel at the nativity scene, bless the creche, and then proceed with incensing of the altar etc. Second, our choir sings the introit during the procession until they reach the creche, then we stop to hear the blessing, and during the incensing the congregation sings a hymn.

    I am not sure whether this (procession to crib, blessing, then incensing) is what the rubrics call for, and I don't know where to look it up. I've glanced at the GIRM online and don't see rubrics for any specific feasts so I'm assuming that must be in a a different book. Could you please point me to which book I need? Is a pdf available to read online?

    Another reason it would be helpful if I could read through the rubrics is the lights - in the past we've started in the dark and then after the blessing the lights are turned on. Our new pastor last year decided he wanted to leave the lights off until the gloria, which meant that we were still in the dark during the incensing so if the congregation wanted to join in singing the hymn it had to be from memory.
    If that is the case again this year, would anyone have suggestions on what the choir could sing instead of a hymn? In regular Masses I love the chanted introit leading into the priest's chanted sign of the cross - a hymn during the incensing is definitely less meditative. (Maybe I need to pick a different hymn...) Any thoughts?


  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,079
    Is this local custom? That's certainly legitimate, but I have never seen this.
  • I believe this is almost exactly what they do at BNSIC, except the creche is much further away from the altar in terms of walking distance and they way they normally do their entrance processions (going up the nave from the sacristy halfway, turning, and then going down the main aisle, the creche being in a side cove near the sacristy). They do the Kalenda and procession to the creche by candlelight, singing "Silent Night" and then a choral meditation of some sort while the bishop incense the creche and prays for a time at it (the creche is presumably blessed at the Vigil Mass), and then go to the altar as the lights come up - so basically the way your former pastor did things. The only thing I might suggest in your case is reverse the order of the hymn and Introit: do the hymn in procession - "Silent Night" would actually be a good choice as many people can do that from memory - and then as the priest is incensing the altar do the Introit.
  • The light issue would suggest the blessing of the creche be done after Mass, as is the usual custom, I think. On the other hand, your pastor may be confusing this Mass with the Easter Vigil, in which the lights are raised at the Gloria. I don't know of any rubrics that speak to this.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,006
    Do you do sung office before Mass? If so, I could see a (creative) case for this.

    The lights thing is weird.

    Here, we do the hymn to the creche, then bless in silence. If there's some of it left, we continue afterward, then do introit.
  • If this is OF, I believe the crèche is blessed after the Intercessions (Universal Prayer) via the Order of Blessing within Mass (Book of Blessings, nos. 1562-64). The blessing may be done outside of Mass via the Shorter Rite (nos. 1565-69) as you currently do it, although this shorter Rite is ‘especially appropriate for use when the blessing takes place in the home’.

    Also, I agree about singing the hymn during procession and Introit during incensation.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW eft94530
  • AMAJ
    Posts: 25
    I'll plan to switch the hymn and introit - thanks.

    Re the lights - this is the only parish where I've attended Midnight Mass as an adult so I don't even know if it's a local custom or unique to my parish. Interesting that this is what they also do at BNSIC but is unfamiliar to the other four of you commenting...increases my curiosity about reading through the rubrics, so if anyone can point me to those I'd appreciate it.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,460
    I don't think there are any rubrics, and would be interested to be pointed to some*. The custom in England (and the Isle of Man) that I have seen is to hold a para-liturgy of carols and readings for a time before Mass (depending how early people turn up to get a seat) and then proceed to Mass after a short pause. Customs, and numbers, are evolving quite rapidly. The Vigil Mass seems to be replacing Midnight as the most crowded, parents prefer the timing, and the elderly do not like being out on a dark (and stormy) night.
    *Amended while typing. Thank you ClemensRomanus