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Ash Wednesday

Customary of Grace Church


  •  All normal preparations for a sung Mass

  • On the credence

    • A small dish containing the ashes

    • An extra lavabo bowl

    • A piece of bread (for cleaning the celebrant's fingers)

    • The holy water vat and sprinkler

  • On the MC's table: A large Prayer Book, marked at page 264


  • Celebrant

  • Assisting Priest

  • Master of Ceremonies

  • Thurifer

  • Two candlebearers

  • Two Lay Eucharistic Ministers

  • Two lectors

 All vest as usual.  (The celebrant wears a chasuble, not a cope.)


  • All enter in the usual way while the choir sings the introit. 

  • The Opening Acclamation and Kyrie are omitted.  The celebrant’s greeting and the Collect of the Day immediately follow the introit. The collect is sung recto tono.

Liturgy of the Word 

  • All is done as usual up to the end of the Homily. 

  • The Creed, Prayers of the People, and usual Confession of Sin are omitted. 

The Penitential Rite and Imposition of Ashes

  •  Immediately after the homily, the first candlebearer places the ashes on the altar at the middle.  He walks along the pavement and bows before ascending the steps.  After placing the ashes on the altar, he descends the steps, bows again, and withdraws to his place. 

  • The preacher, meanwhile, returns to his place. 

  • As soon as the first candlebearer returns to his place, the MC, taking the large Prayer Book from the table, leads the celebrant and assisting priest to the foot of the altar.  When they have passed through the rail, the MC moves to the left and the assisting priest to the right.  The three together bow to the altar. 

  • The MC hands the Prayer Book to the celebrant.  The celebrant turns west to read the allocution.  When he does, the MC and assisting priest make a quarter turn (as at the Sursum corda), so as to face him. 

  • At the end of the allocution all three kneel on the lowest step.  The celebrant returns the Prayer Book to the MC. 

  • At the signal from the celebrant, the three ascend the altar steps.  The second candlebearer brings the holy water vat to the assisting priest (walking up the side steps to the predella), and then returns to his place. 

  • The MC places the Prayer Book (open to page 265) on the altar. 

  • The celebrant blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water. 

  • The second candlebearer walks up the side steps to the predella, receives the vat from the assisting priest, and puts it back on the credence.

  • The choir begins the antiphon and Psalm 51.

  • The assisting priest imposes ashes on the celebrant

  • The celebrant imposes ashes on the assisting priest and the MC

  • The MC takes the Prayer Book from the altar.

  • The assisting priest and the MC descend the steps, bow, and withdraw to the south side of the sanctuary, the MC still holding the Prayer Book.

  • The celebrant imposes ashes on the  ministers and people.

  • When the imposition of ashes is finished, the celebrant goes to the credence to wash his hands.  The first candlebearer assists him.

  • The celebrant, preceded by the MC and followed by the assisting priest, return to the foot of the altar.  They kneel on the lowest step.

  • The MC hands the Prayer Book to the celebrant.

  • At the conclusion of the Psalm and antiphon, the Celebrant begins the Litany of Penitence.

  • Before rising to pronounce the Absolution, the celebrant returns the Prayer Book to the MC

  • The MC stands and holds the book for the celebrant while the celebrant pronounces the absolution.  The assisting priest and all others remain kneeling.

  • All rise at the conclusion of the Absolution, and the Peace is exchanged.

 Liturgy of the Eucharist


  •  All is done as usual.

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