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High Mass 

This is a term used, mostly in Anglo-catholic parishes, to describe a celebration of the eucharist characterized by multiple ministers (a priest- or bishop-celebrant, deacon, "subdeacon," acolytes, choir, and possibly others) and a rich ceremonial (incense, candles, processions, stylized movements and gestures), and a preference for singing rather than saying the various texts of the eucharist. A eucharist in which the celebrant is assisted by a deacon and a layperson serving as a liturgical subdeacon may be known as a Solemn Eucharist. The contrasting low mass is characterized by its requirements of a single minister (a priest-celebrant) and a strictly restrained ceremonial. The high mass was recognized as the eucharistic norm in the Roman rites of the middle ages, although the low mass was by far the more common celebration. The eucharistic rite in the 1549 BCP drew on a style similar to the normative high mass. But the 1552 BCP, alert to popular sensibilities favoring the more familiar low mass, used that style as the basis for its communion service. Subsequent Prayer Books followed the pattern of the 1552 BCP, which presupposed the priest-celebrant as the single liturgical leader at the eucharist. This tendency was somewhat reversed by the 1979 BCP, which calls for a variety of ministers-ordained and lay-in roles of liturgical leadership at the eucharist. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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