What is the Difference Between Low Mass and High Mass?
There are two types of Mass in the Catholic Church: Low Mass and High Mass. They are both celebrations of the Eucharist. However, they are different in several ways. Generally speaking, Low Mass is shorter and quieter than the Solemn Mass. It also does not include a deacon or subdeacon, which is found at the Solemn Mass. The solemn Mass is a more elaborate form of the Mass, with more music and ritual. In addition to a deacon, a subdeacon may be involved, as well as a choir.
Traditionally, the Latin language is used in the Mass. This is a language that can be difficult to learn for a newcomer. If you’re interested in learning Latin, there are some helpful resources. A simple way to get started is to read through the Mass. Divinum Officium is a website that lets you plug in the date of the Mass, and it will show you the whole Mass in parallel English and Latin columns. You can then use the information to help you prepare.
The early Church discipline of catechumens required that those who wanted to be baptized were instructed in a series of classes. Once a person was baptized, they would then be assigned a parish. Priests would celebrate the Mass every day. Until the late Middle Ages, all priests were expected to say daily Mass.
Historically, Low Mass was the most common form of the Mass. However, in the 18th century, singing at Low Mass declined, and most cathedrals still have one of these Masses every other week. These Masses were more private and were for personal requests, rather than public celebrations. Eventually, the Masses became more formal and became called ‘High Mass’.
In the late Middle Ages, the church saw an increase in the desire to multiply the Masses. Many of the reasons for this were spiritual, but there were also material. For instance, it was possible to build several altars in a single church. With so many altars, fewer servers were needed, and it was therefore easier to have multiple Masses.
The earliest Tridentine editions of the Roman Missal did not make a distinction between Low Mass and the Solemn Mass. Therefore, the names of the different parts of the Mass have their origins in the discipline of the early Church.
Today, most parishes have at least one Missa Cantata (or ‘High Mass’) on Sunday. The only part of the Mass that is not sung is the homily, which is normally reduced or omitted. Most of the rest of the Mass is sung by the Celebrant, a deacon, and a choir.
Sung Masses usually involve the use of incense. However, this is not always the case. Some churches may also offer a High Mass without incense.
On the other hand, Low Mass is celebrated by a priest and a small group of acolytes and servers. While a choir is present at a sung Mass, it is not accompanied by an organ.