Prise d'Aube: Altar Servers and Choristers

Figure 1.--Here is a scene from a French choir Prise d'Aube ceremony. In this ceremony you can see the choristers in both their school boy outfits and their auubes. If you look closely at the altar you can see the priest and an altar boy at the altar. All the boys are choristers. A chorister tells us, "We usually have two costumes. One religious robe (aube), and another school uniform. The boys wearing the school uniform are choristers waiting to receive their aube. The boys wearing the aube are older choirboys who already received their aube last time. One boy is very tall. Maybe that is why he was plced at the end. Click on the image to see what hppened when the boy reaced the front.

The same term, Prise d'Aube, is used for both altar servers and choristers, although the ceremonies presumably differ somewhat. And some of the boys also serve as altar boys. This may show the historic relationship between altar boys and choir boys. We believe in the medieval church boys served as both altar servers and choristers. A reader writes, "I see that you wrote this ceremony is also for altar boys. Is the ceremony exactly the same as the ceremony for choir? I know in some churches, the choir boys are also the altar boys, for exemple a few choir boys will be given the duty of altar boys." I am not sure about the altar boy ceremony having grown up in a Protestant environment. Hopefully some of our Catholic readers can provide some insights here. A French reader writes, "Thank you for the information on prise d'aube for altar boys. This is interesing. I was chorister myself as a boy. Many of my friends were altar boys when they were younger, but they did not receive their alb in the same way as we did as choristers." Another reader writes, "I know a boy will usually sign up as an altar boy (usually his parent's wishes). He will go through a period of training, and after he receives Communion, he will begin wearing the alb/cassock/surplice." Just to prevent confusion, regarding altar boys, it is not always choirboys who srve as altar boys. Some altar boys do not sing, and some choir boys do not serve the priest. So it depends on the arrangement between the choir and the church as well as the parents and boys interestes and commitment.


There is a formal creremony when the boys and now girls enter their choirs (the Mŗne). The ceremony is called Prise d'Aube. It is very common in France and Belgium and perhaps other choirs. The ceremony is similar in the different choirs, but each choir has its own traditions. The same term is used for new altar boys, although the ceremonies presumably differ somewhat. . Aube means robe, so prise d'aube is the receiving the robe ceremony. The long white robes which alter boys and some choir members wear are called 'albs'. Prise d'Aube is a very formal, solemn ceremony. This usually occurs about 1-2 weeks after the boys first join the choir because the boys must be measured first for their white robes. Also, the school gives the boys some time to get used to life in boarding school before the first formal event. The school uniform is given to the boys earlier so that they can be properly dressed at the ceremony. Before the ceremony they are given instructions on how to wear the school uniform. They also practise for the ceremony. The children's whole families will attend the ceremony. The precise details of the ceremony will vary from choir to choir. There are differences, for exmple, depending on if it is boarding school choir or a choir for boys living at home. Commonly the boys wear the choir school-type uniform. There are remarks, usually by the choir director. The older boys then help the new boys put on the white robe that many of the French choirs wear. After this the choir will come together and sing for those attending the services. One chorister tells us, "The ceremony is also the first time we see our parents and siblings after we move into boarding school. The feeling is happy but also a bit shy because we are in uniform." A reader tells us, "I have a little video of Prise d'Aube. I do not know which country or choir is this. Both France and Belgium have Prise d'Aube ceremony."

Altar Boys

We do not yet have details on the Prise d'Aube ceremony as it relates to altar boys. Hopefully our French readers will provide some insights here. We believe that the roots of the ceremony date back to the early church where boys served as both altar servers and chioristers in monastaries. Gradually the two traditions diverged, although some boys became both choristers and altar servers. A reader tells us, "I understand that for altar boys, the vÍtements have to be blessed every time they wear it. It is a regular event. But I am not sure if there is one special ceremony for the first time."


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Created: 9:32 PM 2/12/2013
Last updated: 9:32 PM 2/12/2013