A collection of alms from the congregation, such as may take place also at non-Eucharistic services, often coincides with this ceremony.
In the Roman Rite, the offertory is the first part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The altar is first prepared by placing on it the corporal, purificator, missal and chalice. It is considered praiseworthy for the bread and wine and perhaps other offerings or gifts for the poor or for the Church to be presented by the faithful in a procession to the accompaniment of an offertory chant. The priest then places first the bread and then the wine on the altar while saying the prescribed prayers, after which he may incense them together with the cross and the altar. The priest himself and the people may also be incensed. Then, after washing his hands at the side of the altar, the priest says the Prayer over the Offerings. This was originally the only prayer said at the offertory of the Roman Rite.
There are variations in other rites. For instance, in the Dominican Rite a single prayer is said at the offertory over the bread and wine that have already been prepared on the altar at an earlier part of the Mass.
In the Byzantine Rite, there is a short offertory at the same point as in the Roman Rite, but a more elaborate ceremonial, the Liturgy of Preparation, takes place before the public part of the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
In the Roman Rite, the procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory Chant, and singing may accompany the offertory even if there is no procession. Before 1970, the priest said the Prayer over the Offerings silently because during the offertory the people, at an earlier time, sang a psalm or, in responsorial fashion, repeated a refrain while a soloist sang the verses of the psalm. In the Tridentine Mass, only the choir sang the refrain alone to an elaborate setting, and the priest read the refrain at the beginning of the offertory not only at a Low Mass, which was without singing, but even at a Solemn Mass.
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England includes "offertory sentences" that are to be read at this point. Current practice in Anglican churches favours the singing of a congregational hymn (the "offertory hymn") or an anthem sung by the choir. In some churches music at the offertory is provided by an organist.
Collection of alms
During the offertory or immediately before it, a collection of money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church is taken up. In the Roman Catholic Mass, while these may be brought forward together with the bread and wine, they are not to be placed on the altar.
A collection plate is often used near the end of some Protestant worship services, rather than at the offertory, to gather the gifts of the faithful for the support of the church and for charity.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 73-77
- Adrian Fortescue, "Offertory" in The Catholic Encyclopedia 1911
- The Dominican Rite
- General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 73