The celebrant is the priest who presides over the Eucharist and leads the congregation celebration of this rite. The celebrant must be ordained to the priesthood. The principle responsibilities of the celebrant are to administer the Absolution, preside at the Eucharist, and bless those present. At St. Peter’s, the celebrant is typically one of the full-time clergy of the church or a visiting cleric from another parish, or sometimes the bishop of the diocese.
The celebrant is not a member of the Acolyte Guild, and as such - apart from the practices outlined in this customary - is not subject to the rules governing Guild members.
Responsibilities and Conduct
The celebrant should be vested and ready for the service no later than 10 minutes prior to the service start time.
The celebrant should vest in black cassock, alb, amice, white cincture, stole, and cope, and maniple (if available) in the color of the day. The stole should be worn crossed over the chest and hanging down at the slides, with the loose ends of the stole passed through the cincture to help them stay in place. If a cope is not available, the celebrant should vest in the chasuble instead.
Prayers of Preparation
Prior to the start of the service, the celebrant leads the assembled servers in the Preparation for Holy Communion prayers, which will be available to all sacred ministers and servers on cards in the vesting area.
After the prayers, the minister of ceremonies will ring the bell to start the service. The celebrant walks at the end of the procession behind the deacon. Along with the other sacred ministers, the celebrant passes through the altar rail gate and moves to center between the subdeacon on the left and the deacon on the right, forming a line on the pavement at the base of the altar steps. Once there, the three sacred ministers proceed to the footpace together and reverence the altar. The subdeacon and deacon should bow profoundly while the celebrant bows to kiss the altar.
Incensing of the Altar
When incense is being used in the service, the altar is incensed prior to the Opening Acclamation. At the cue from the minister of ceremonies, the thurifer comes forward to hand the thurible to the celebrant. The celebrant censes the altar following the customary forms, assisted by the subdeacon and deacon lifting the celebrants cope or chasuble on the left and right respectively to free the the celebrant’s arm to swing the thurible.
Opening Acclamation, Collect for Purity, and Summary of the Law
After reverencing and censing the altar (if included in the service), the celebrant moves to the center of the footpace, with the deacon behind on the second step and the subdeacon on the pavement - all facing the altar. The celebrant turns to faces the congregation for the Opening Acclamation, and turns back to the altar for the Collect for Purity and Summary of the Law. When the celebrant turns to face the congregation, the deacon and subdeacon will “split” to the right and left so as to avoid obstructing the congregation’s view of the celebrant.
At the singing of the Gloria, the celebrant remains facing the altar, intoning the Gloria at the cue from the organ (where there is an intonation for the Gloria). The celebrant should make a slight bow at the word “God” at the start of the Gloria and at the name of Jesus, and then the sign of the cross at the conclusion of the Gloria.
Lessons and Psalm
When the Gloria concludes, the sacred ministers all descend to the pavement, with the celebrant in the center, the deacon on his or her right, and the subdeacon on the left. After reverencing the altar, the deacon leads the sacred ministers to the sedilia, where all are seated with the celebrant in the center.
Gospel Procession and Reading
If the celebrant is preaching, he or she awaits the arrival of the verger and is led to the pulpit steps behind the gospel procession to await the reading of the gospel. Based on the preference of the celebrant, he or she may remove the cope or chasuble prior to ascending the pulpit, handing it to the verger. The maniple, if used, should always be removed prior to preaching. After the sermon has concluded, the celebrant descends from the pulpit and dons the cope or chasuble with the assistance of the verger before being led back to his or her place in the sedilia.
If the celebrant is not preaching, he or she is seated at his/her place in the sedilia.
For the Creed, all sacred ministers rise from the sedilia and proceed to the pavement at the foot of the altar steps with the celebrant in the center, subdeacon on the left, and deacon on the right. The celebrant begins the creed, after which the congregation joins. The celebrant makes a simple bow at the name of Jesus, moderate bow (or genuflection) at the mention of the Incarnation, and the sign of the cross at the final phrase of the Creed.
Prayers of the People
The sacred ministers proceed to the footpace, kneeling for the Prayers of the People, making the sign of the cross at the prayers for the dead, and adding a concluding Collect at the end of the prayers.
Confession and Absolution
The celebrant leads the Confession, continuing to kneel, rising at the conclusion of the Confession and facing the congregation to administer the Absolution.
Peace and Announcements
The celebrant asks the congregation to rise and bids them greet one another in peace. At the conclusion of the Peace, the celebrant moves to the top of the quire steps to make the announcements. Once the announcements are over, the celebrant says the Offertory Sentences.
After the Offertory Sentences, the celebrant moves to the foot of the altar and is joined by subdeacon and deacon. Upon reaching the pavement at the base of the altar steps, the sacred ministers fan out, with the subdeacon on the left, the celebrant in the center, and the deacon on the right, timing this movement so that all sacred ministers are together in a row as they begin to ascend the altar steps. The sacred ministers move to the footpace and reverence the altar, with the subdeacon and deacon making a profound bow and the celebrant kissing the altar.
If incense is being used, the minister of ceremonies will cue the thurifer to come forward for the celebrant to lay on incense. After incense has been laid on, the celebrant moves to the sedilia. While the deacon is setting the table, the celebrant is assisted by the minister of ceremonies in removing the cope and donning the chasuble. If the celebrant is already vested in the chasuble, he/she sits in the sedilia while the deacon finishes preparing the vessels.
When the subdeacon retrieves the water cruet from the acolyte, he will turn to the celebrant to have it blessed. The celebrant rises and blesses the cruet with the sign of the cross and resumes his/her seat. Once table has been set, the deacon and subdeacon will move respective spots at the altar; the celebrant will rise to join them in the center of the footpace; all face the altar until the conclusion of the Offertory anthem.
At the conclusion of the Offertory anthem, and when finished with the preparation of the vessels, the sacred ministers will turn to face the nave of the church; this is the signal for the Offertory procession to begin. When the procession nears the altar rail, the sacred ministers will move together to meet the processional party, the three fanning out at the gate so that the subdeacon on the left, celebrant in the center, and deacon on the right. The celebrant receives the offering bason, handing it off to the subdeacon. The celebrant receives ciborium next, handing it to the deacon, and then receives the cruet. All three sacred ministers turn to face the altar and move up to the footpace with the offerings. The celebrant receives the bason from the subdeacon to be blessed and hands it back to the subdeacon. Likewise, the celebrant receives the ciborium from the deacon, and then in turn raises the cruet to be blessed.
Incensing at the Offertory
If incense is in use in the service, the altar and offerings are incensed at this time. At the signal from the minister of ceremonies, the thurifer will come forward to hand off the thurible to the celebrant. The celebrant censes the altar following the usual forms, with the deacon and subdeacon assisting the celebrant with lifting the chasuble on his or her right and left side respectively while the altar is being censed. After the altar has been censed, the celebrant hands the thurible to the deacon, who will be standing on the epistle side of the footpace, and the celebrant steps back to the gospel side of the footpace to be censed by the deacon. The celebrant moves to the center of the footpace facing the altar, with the deacon on the second step immediately behind, and the subdeacon on the pavement behind the deacon.
Preface and Sanctus
When it is time to begin the Sursum Corda, the the celebrant turns to face the congregation (the deacon and subdeacon will move to the epistle and gospel sides respectively). The celebrant turns back to the altar (the deacon and subdeacon return to the center facing the altar) and intones the Preface. At the start of the Sanctus, the celebrant bows, with the other sacred ministers, to the words, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts,” and then resumes an upright posture.
The celebrant says the canon, with the deacon covering and uncovering the chalice when necessary, the celebrant resting his or her hand on the base of the chalice to prevent any accident. At the consecration of each species, the celebrant should elevate the element, and may genuflect before and after the elevation as is his or her custom. When reaching the concluding words of the canon, the celebrant should sing them aloud so that the congregation may answer, “Amen.”
Lord’s Prayer, Fraction Anthem, and Prayer for Humble Access
The celebrant begins the Lord’s Prayer, leading the congregation. After breaking the host, an Agnus Dei is sung, after which the celebrant leads the congregation in the Prayer for Humble Access (if it is being used in the service).
The celebrant receives Communion first, and then administers Communion to the other sacred ministers starting with the deacon. The celebrant then administers the Host to the altar party, with the subdeacon administering the cup. The celebrant then proceeds to the altar rail, where he/she administers the Host to all communicants.
At the end of Communion, the comes back to the altar, placing the ciborium on it. If the Blessed Sacrament is not to be reserved, the celebrant consumes what remains, and directs the subdeacon in administering the Ablutions, moving to the epistle side of the footpace after the second Ablution allowing the subdeacon to finish. See “The Ablutions” in this document for more information.
Post-Communion Prayer and Final Prayers
At the signal from the minister of ceremonies, the celebrant moves to the epistle side (if not there already) with the deacon and subdeacon lined up behind on the second step and pavement respectively. The celebrant leads the congregation in the Post-Communion Prayer.
Blessing and Retiring Procession
After the Post-Communion Prayer, and at the signal from the minister of ceremonies, the sacred ministers move to the center (the deacon and subdeacon still on the second step and pavement respectively). The celebrant turns to face the congregation, and the deacon and subdeacon split moving to the epistle and gospel sides respectively. The celebrant administers the Blessing, and the turns to face the altar, where the celebrant is joined by the deacon and subdeacon. Together, they then turn to face the congregation for the retiring procession. As the choir is exiting their stalls, the sacred ministers move toward the altar rail, falling into single file with the subdeacon leading and the celebrant at the rear, timing this movement to joining the rest of the procession to the rear of the nave behind the minister of ceremonies.
After the dismissal, the celebrant returns to the vesting area to be assisted by the deacon and subdeacon in removing his/her vestments and returning them to the sacristy.