Project Canterbury






Transcribed by Peter Owen, 2006





A quarter of an hour before the celebration the Thurifer should present himself at the sacristy, put on his casssock and cotta, and in default of the acolytes assist the Sacred Ministers to vest.

The Priest, Deacon, and Subdeacon being vested, the blessing of the Incense to be used in the procession[1] takes place, immediately before leaving the sacristy. The celebrant receives the spoon from the Deacon, who says, “Be pleased, reverend father, to give a blessing;” he then takes incense from the navicula or incense-boat (held by the Deacon, who receives it from the Thurifer,) and puts it on the burning charcoal in three several portions, each time sprinkling it in the form of a cross. Then in accordance with the Deacon’s prayer, he blesses the incense with his right hand, saying, “Be thou blessed by Him in whose honour thou art to be burned.” The thurible is held by the Thurifer whilst the incense is put in. The procession then moves into the aisle in the following order:—

1. Thurifer with thurible smoking, preceded by the cross-bearer.

2. Acolytes.[2]

3. Clergy, two and two in reverse order; the part nearest the celebrant being the place of honour.

4. Procession of celebrant.

a. Subdeacon and Deacon.

b. The Celebrant.

N.B.—If a Bishop be present he precedes the celebrant. This supposes him not to act pontifically.[3]

The celebrant standing before the midst of the Altar, turns round by his right, and then with his side to the Altar, puts incense into the thurible, the Deacon ministering the spoon and holding the boat as before. The Priest then blesses (secreto) the incense with the words already mentioned.[4] He then receives the thurible from the Deacon,[5] and incenses the midst of the Altar[6] and the two corners. The celebrant himself is then incensed by the Deacon.[7] After the Introit the Priest again incenses the Altar.[8] The next incensing takes place before the Gospel,[9]—the midst of the Altar is alone incensed by the Deacon,—the lectern from which the Gospel is read is never incensed.

When the oblations[10] are placed upon the Altar they are incensed by the celebrant, who is afterwards incensed by the Deacon.[11] An acolyte then incenses the choir.[12] The next and last incensing takes place (in the West) after the consecration. When the consecration and adoration of the sacred Body are over, the Deacon rises and removes the pall from the chalice; and after the consecration and adoration of the Precious Blood he replaces it,—the chief assistant having incensed the Body and Blood of our LORD.

N.B.—When a Bishop assists pontifically he blesses the incense.

a. The thurifer genuflects when he leaves or enters the choir; or leaves or approaches the Altar after consecration, and on passing or repassing from one side to the other.

b. When a thurible does not contain incense which has been blessed, he will hold it in his left hand and the boat in his right; but when it does contain incense which has been blessed, vice versa. During the more ceremonial parts of the function, such as at the singing of the Gospel, &c., and during processions, he places the little finger in the ring of the coverlet, and the thumb of the same hand in the ring of the chain that holds the large cover; on other occasions, such as when he proceeds to receive incense, &c., he generally holds it at the top of the chain under the coverlet, in such a manner, however, that the large cover will be somewhat raised, this being understood of instances apart from the actual incensation.

g. After each incensation the thurifer takes his place in choir.

d. If the thurifer has to go to the sacristy to renew the fire, he will have an acolyte with torch on each side of him.

e. He should occasionally raise the cover a little, and gently swing the thurible, lest the fire be extinguished.

z. Where gas is laid on in the sacristy it will be found convenient and economical to have a jet fitted with frame, upon which may rest a small iron pan, so perforated that the charcoal put into it may easily be ignited by the flame of the gas passing through it. The pan should have a small handle. This plan is especially useful in the summer season, as, by a gutta-percha tubing the jet may be temporarily placed in the ordinary stove or fireplace; and during the winter months when the ordinary fires are burning may be carefully laid by.

h. The thurible with its boat, where it is customary to have ignited charcoal in a brazier on the floor of the choir, is placed on the credence. Also the spoon and a small pair of tongs.

q. The thurible, Navicula (Incense boat) spoon, and canister of Incense should be kept together in a cupboard. It is recommended to let the thuribles hang from pegs, and the other articles stand upon a shelf a little above. The Incense to be preferred is simple gum thus, and may be obtained at the wholesale chemists at a moderate price.

[1] It is convenient to bless all the incense to be used in the Sacristy. In the Latin Communion it is blessed each time in the Service when incensing takes place.

[2] In the West they carry a lighted torch in the outside hand.

[3] When a Bishop assists pontifically he goes last in the procession, with two attendant Priests preceding him.

[4] Unless the whole of the Incense has been blessed in the Sacristy.

[5] “Accepto thuribulo a Diacono.” Rom. Miss.

[6] “Et ipse sacerdos thurificet medium altaris, et utrumque cornu altaris.” Missale Sarisb.

[7] “Deinde ab ipso diacono ipse sacerdos thurificetur.” Ibid.

[8] “Et postea incenset altare.” Missale Ebor.

[9] “In fine alleluia, vel sequentiae, vel tractus, diaconus antequam accedat ad evangelium pronuntiandum thurificet medium altaris tantum. Nunquam enim thurificetur lectrinum ante pronuntiationem evangelii.” Missale Sarisburiense.

[10] “Hoc peracto accipiat thuribulum a diacono et thurificet sacrificium: videlicet ultra ter signum crucis faciens, et in circuitu et ex utraque parte calicis et sacrificii: deinde locum inter se et altare. Et dum thurificat dicat: Dirigatur Domine ad te oratio mea, sicut incensum in conspectu tuo.” Missale Sarisb. In all the Greek Liturgies, the oblations are here incensed, e.g., Liturgy of S. Chrysostom in the Euchol. Graec. Goar.

[11] “Postea thurificetur ipse sacerdos ab ipso diacono.” Ibid.

[12] “Deinde acolytus thurificet chorum.” See also Maskell in loco, p. 62. Ibid.