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Order of Mass is an outline of a Mass celebration, describing how and in what order liturgical texts and rituals are employed to constitute a Mass.

The expression Order of Mass is particularly tied to the Roman Rite where the sections under that title in the Roman Missal also contain a set of liturgical texts that recur in most or in all Eucharistic liturgies (the so-called invariable texts, or ordinary of the Mass), while the rubrics indicate the rituals, and the insertion points of the variable texts known as the proper of the Mass. Having been virtually unchanged for many centuries, the Roman Catholic Order of Mass changed decisively after the Second Vatican Council.

Other Christian denominations have comparable descriptions of their liturgical practices for the Eucharist, which are however usually not called Order of Mass.

Sections of the Order of Mass

The Order of Mass in Western liturgy generally consists of the following sections:

1. Liturgy of the Word

  1. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar or the Penitential Rite.
  2. Kyrie eleison ("Lord, have mercy").
  3. Gloria ("Glory to God in the highest").
  4. The prayers said in connection with the scripture readings.
  5. Credo ("I believe in one God"), the Nicene Creed.

2. Liturgy of the Eucharist

  1. The Offertory prayers.
  2. The Canon of the Mass, or Eucharistic Prayer, with its opening dialogue and its Preface, the latter of which, in spite of being variable, is included in the ordinary.
  3. (Included in the preceding:) Sanctus ("Holy, Holy, Holy"), the second part of which, beginning with the word "Benedictus" ("Blessed is he"), was often sung separately after the consecration, if the setting was long.
  4. The Lord's Prayer and the following prayers until the distribution of Holy Communion
  5. (Included in the preceding:) Agnus Dei ("Lamb of God").
  6. The prayer said at the cleansing of the chalice, and the concluding prayers, which in the Tridentine Mass included the reading of what was called the Last Gospel (usually, the first fourteen verses of Saint John's Gospel) as a farewell blessing.
  7. (Included in the preceding:) The phrase Ite, missa est "Go, the mass is ended" (referring to the congregation) is the final part of the Order of Mass. In the Tridentine Mass, it was followed by a private prayer that the priest said silently for himself, by the final blessing, and by the reading of the Last Gospel (usually John 1:1-14), and in some Masses it was replaced by Benedicamus Domino or Requiescant in pace. These phrases are sung to music given in the Missal, as is the choir's response, Deo gratias or (after Requiescant in pace) Amen. In the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer, the service ends with the celebrant saying, "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord." To which the congregation responds, "Thanks be to God."


See also: Mass ordinary

The Kyrie eleison was traditionally sung in Greek, the others in Latin. Prior to the Council of Trent the Kyrie was frequently troped by adding texts particular to a specific feast day between the lines of the Kyrie; indeed English renaissance composers seem to have regarded the Sarum rite Kyrie as part of the propers and begin their mass settings with the Gloria. These tropes were essentially texts.

Until the 1970 revision of the Roman Missal, the Agnus Dei was modified for Requiem Masses, and prayed not miserere nobis (have mercy on us) and dona nobis pacem (grant us peace), but dona eis requiem (grant them rest) and dona eis requiem sempiternam (grant them eternal rest).

It was at one time popular to replace at a Solemn Mass the second half of the Sanctus (the Benedictus) with hymns such as the O Salutaris Hostia, or, at requiems, with a musical setting of the final invocation of the Dies Irae: "Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem."[citation needed]


See also: Proper (liturgy) § West

The texts of the Order of Mass other than the Ordinarium parts can be grouped as follows:

  1. The Tridentine-Mass Prayers at the Foot of the Altar or, post-1970, the Penitential Rite.
  2. The prayers said in connection with the Scripture readings.
  3. The Offertory prayers.
  4. The Canon of the Mass, or Eucharistic Prayer, with its opening dialogue and its Preface, the latter of which, in spite of being variable, is included in the Order of Mass.
  5. The Our Father and the following prayers, leading to the priest's communion, to which since 1970 is added the communion of the people, previously not part of the Order of Mass. (The prescribed rite for the distribution of Communion – which Pope John XXIII shortened slightly by omission of the Confiteor and Absolution – was often printed within or after the Order of Mass in missals for use by the faithful, but not in the Roman Missal of the time.)
  6. The prayer said at the cleansing of the chalice, and the concluding prayers, which in the Tridentine Mass included the reading of what was called the Last Gospel (usually, the first fourteen verses of Saint John's Gospel) as a farewell blessing.

Within these six groupings, there are short phrases (e.g. "Dominus vobiscum" and "Et cum spiritu tuo") that in Tridentine Solemn Mass were sung by priest or deacon and by the choir. If sung in the post-Tridentine form of Mass, the response is usually given by the whole congregation.

Roman Rite

In the Roman Missal, the Order of Mass is printed as a distinct section placed in the middle of the book, between the Mass of the Easter Vigil and that of Easter Sunday in pre-1970 editions, and between the Proper of the Seasons and the Proper of the Saints thereafter.

In a Catholic tradition Order of Mass (Latin: Ordo Missae) is sometimes used as a synonym of Ordinary of the Mass (Ordinarium Missae),[1] but the last expression usually rather refers to the Ordinarium parts of the Mass, i.e. the Mass ordinary, the set of texts of the Roman Rite Mass that are generally invariable. This contrasts with the proper (proprium), which are items of the Mass that change with the feast or following the Liturgical Year.

Pre-Tridentine Mass

See also: Pre-Tridentine Mass § Comparison of the Mass, c. 400 and 1000 AD

Before the Roman Missal of 1570 the Order of Mass was less uniform but by 1000 AD many sections of the Tridentine Mass were already established as part of the Mass.

Tridentine Mass

See also: Tridentine Mass § Liturgical structure

The Order of Mass for the Tridentine Mass appears in Roman Missals from 1570, until it was replaced by the Order of Mass as published in the Roman Missal of 1970.

Mass of Paul VI

See also: Mass of Paul VI § Changes in the Order of Mass

Many prayers have been shortened and/or alternative versions of texts of the ordinary can be chosen.

Other denominations

Much of the ordinary of the Eucharist is common to Western liturgical Christian denominations, but quite different from that of Eastern Christianity.

Byzantine Rite

In the Byzantine Rite the Eucharist is called Divine Liturgy, which has several versions, with the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom coming closest to an equivalent of the Order of Mass in the Western traditions.


Traditionally, In Anglicanism the Book of Common Prayer is the guide for liturgical practices regarding the Eucharist, for instance having the Gloria near the end of the Service in some editions.

However various revisions have taken place throughout the Anglican Communion during the 20th and 21st Century, with most provinces creating a liturgy with a close resemblance to the western tradition. For example, until the retranslation of the Roman Catholic English Order of the Mass, the Church of England Common Worship liturgy was almost identical to the Roman Catholic Ordo except for some differences in wording in the Eucharistic prayers, though with the substantive elements identical the notable difference being that the peace follows the intercessions, not the Eucharistic Prayer.[2]


Martin Luther's 1523 Formula missae and his 1526 Deutsche Messe form the basis of the Order of Mass in Lutheran liturgical practice. In the years following the publication of these works, Lutherans in different territories adapted one or both of these to their various circumstances, with large urban churches more likely follow the Formula Missae and have the Ordinary and Propers sung in Latin by a boys' choir, and rural parishes more likely to follow more closely the Deutsche Messe, with its simpler chorale paraphrases of the Ordinary. In a number of instances, notably the 1613 Cathedral Book[3] in use at the Lutheran Cathedral of Saints Maurice and Catherine in Magdeburg, a synthesis of these two traditions can be seen. While plainchant mass propers in Latin are provided for numerous feasts, for Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays of every week throughout the year, and while several Latin plainchant settings of the ordinary are provided, the order of Mass also calls for Luther's creedal hymn Wir glauben all an einen Gott to be sung by the congregation once the choir has chanted the Nicene Creed in Latin, as well as the singing of Jesus Christus, unser Heiland and O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig during the distribution of Holy Communion. The liturgical use at Magdeburg was far from isolated, and similar examples can be found throughout sixteenth and seventeenth century Lutheran Church Orders.


  1. ^ The first printing of the Tridentine Roman Missal used the term Ordinarium Missae (Missale Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum Pii V. Pont. Max. editum Apud haeredes Bartholomaei Faletti, Ioannem Varisei et socios, Roma 1570. Facsimile: Manlio Sodi, Antonio Maria Triacca, Missale Romanum. Editio princeps (1570), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1998, ISBN 88-209-2547-8), but in later editions Ordo Missae in more classical Latin was used. "Order of Mass", rather than "Ordinary of the Mass", is the official term for English-speaking Catholics, in both the 1973 translation of the Roman Missal and in the revised translation that in most English-speaking countries will be brought into use on the First Sunday in Advent in 2011 (see The Order of Mass).
  2. ^ "Liturgical Revision". Archived from the original on 2013-06-25.
  3. ^ Andreae Bezeli, Cantica Sacra, quo ordine et melodiis, per totius anni curriculum, in Matutinis et Vespertinis, itemque; Intermediis precibus cantari solent, una cum lectionibus et precationibus in unum volumen congesta pro S. Metropolitana Magdeburgensi Ecclesia, 1613.