Choir dress

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: This is a follow-up to (August 2022) based on some things I have noticed over time in the Ceremonial for Bishops (CB).

During its treatment of the ordination of priests, CB specifies in paragraph 532, “Next all the concelebrating presbyters and all other presbyters present, provided they are vested with a stole worn over an alb or over a cassock and surplice, lay their hands on each of the candidates, in silence.” This paragraph ostensibly provides for the presence of priests wearing stoles during Mass who are not concelebrating. 

It would seem to me that a priest MC, hitherto vested (only) in cassock and surplice, could appropriately, given this paragraph, put on a stole while concelebrating priests are laying hands on the candidates in order for he himself to also be able to lay hands on the candidates for ordination to the priesthood. It would then seem appropriate to me for him to take the stole off. Likewise other priests in choir dress, but perhaps I am missing something.

As to choir dress for deacons, CB 81 states, “When the bishop presides at a celebration or only takes part in it wearing choir dress, he has as assistants two canons in choir dress or two presbyters or deacons in cassock and surplice.” Here we do seem to have an allowance for vested deacons not wearing alb and stole.

I also note in passing that CB 327 has a non-celebrating bishop “put on a stole for communion” on Good Friday, even if he chooses not to preside even over that portion of the liturgy. 

Do you have any new (since 2022) thoughts about or insights into these matters?


A: You’ve found some very helpful passages.

CB 532 does provide for non-concelebrating priests to wear a stole for imposing hands during an ordination. The footnote is to the first edition of the ordination ritual. The rubric from OP 17-18 is now in the second edition as OBPD 158, but it says the same thing.

I agree with your conclusion about a priest MC. These lines do permit—even expect—him to wear a stole if he wishes to impose hands.

I see no rubric for taking off the stole, but it is implied. 

CB 81 permits a deacon in cassock and surplice, and I read that to mean that they are not carrying out the normal duties of a deacon during Mass, but only assisting a bishop who also wears choir dress.

CB 327 is helpful to see some evidence for the practice of a non-presider, non-concelebrant wearing a stole for communion.

A question for you: Do you know where there is a description of choir dress?