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Liturgical Beauty in Practice

Discussion in 'Traditional Theology' started by The Liturgist, Jun 30, 2021.

  1. Deegie

    Deegie Priest of the Church Supporter

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    I can't believe I didn't see this thread until now. Liturgy is one of my favorite things to talk about! I tend to be fairly high in my own personal preference, with some extra bowing and crossing thrown in. I would prefer incense regularly, although my parish likes to just use it a few times a year on the major feasts. I can deal with that. I would like to do ablutions at the altar as well, although that's rare because the deacon resets the altar after Eucharist when he's there.

    In terms of style, I really admire "admirable simplicity" (to borrow the phrase from George Wayne Smith's book title). I think it's important to do liturgy well without being stuffy, to have fun but still be dignified, and not to get lost in a sea of symbols which don't mean anything. For example, the parish had a tradition of two processional crosses being used at a service when I arrived. We do that anymore. They also didn't understand exactly what the meaning of the vigil light was for the reserved sacrament and thus they blew it out during the week because no one was there to see it.

    Another pet peeve of mine is liturgy that doesn't reflect the season. Advent and Lent shouldn't feel the same. The summer green season need not get monotonous. I am quite careful about crafting liturgy that stays within the rubrics (99% of the time...I will break them on very rare occasions like moving the nuptial blessing at a wedding with Communion to the end) but changes a bit from time to time. I do wonder whether parishioners "get" those changes -- things like the rotation of Eucharistic Prayers -- or not, but I believe they do notice whether the music reflects the calendar. I try to emphasize that seasonality in preaching, as well.

    As for vestments, please don't even get me started. My wife is convinced that half my salary is spent on vestments to replace ill-fitting or just plain ugly sets that the church has owned forever.
     
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  2. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

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    I was left to mostly purchase my own. I have a St. Philip Neri set in Red, Green, Violet, and White, with an additional Spanish cut set in Marian Blue. The Spanish cut set was a gift to me; that cut splits the difference between fiddleback and St. Philip Neri, which is a sort of short Gothic.

    Summer Green (Ordinary time or Trinity-tide) not monotonous - I agree. The readings in the one year lectionary can be a bit random and disjointed in this period. This is the bulk of the Christian year and should be a time for deeper teaching than what has been commonplace for many years.
     
  3. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    It's so interesting to realise that for some people, ordinary time is "summer." Here it is winter and spring, and that does, I think, affect the way people experience it. For one thing, congregations typically shrink during winter.
     
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  4. Deegie

    Deegie Priest of the Church Supporter

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    Oh my gosh, yes! I didn't even think of that. How short-sighted of me. My congregation tends to shrink during the summer as people go on holiday or spend more time at lake houses, cottages, cabins, etc.
     
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  5. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I find in winter people stay home if the weather is horrible, or (in non-pandemic times) they holiday in warmer places. In summer - especially with Christmas as a high point - they might go away for a brief period, but I don't see a dip in numbers that goes on for months.
     
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  6. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    Opposite here; they shrink by 20-30% in the summer.
     
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  7. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

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    Truth. I live in a region with several popular lakes. A church service after 9:30 on a Sunday is a total non-starter on a summer Sunday. Everyone wants to be on the lakes by noon.

    The usual pattern is a 1 hour church service at 8 or 9. That gives the attendees time to go to Bob Evans or IHOP or Denny's for brunch and still be on the lake by noon. Religion is very much a secondary consideration.
     
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  8. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    I think what causes this is not the weather, but rather, the liturgical calendar. The only churches I have seen with consistent attendance in the Northern summer are some Orthodox and Assyrian churches, but I have also seen others where there is reduced attendance from the start of the Apostles Fast the monday after All Saints Day (which is the first Sunday after Pentecost on the Byzantine Calendar) until the start of the Dormition Fast at the beginning of August. In August, the Orthodox and Catholics start to see improved attendance due to the feasts of the Transfiguration and the Dormition, which are then followed in September by the commemoration of the Beheading of John the Baptist, and the Feasts of the Nativity of the Theotokos, the Holy Cross, and Michaelmas.

    In the Northern Winter and Southern Summer on the other hand, you have a non stop procession of important events, such as Reformation Sunday in the Protestant Churches, All Saints Day in the Catholic Church, the feast of St. Andrew, the Feast of Christ the King, two feasts relating to the founding and rededication of the Church in Syriac Orthodoxy that commemorate the end of the liturgical year and the start of a new liturgical year, and then, Advent begins, which in every liturgical rite except the Roman Rite and those rites derived from it, like the Dominican Rite and the Protestant liturgies, is six weeks in length (even in the Ambrosian Rite of Milan). And Advent is followed by Christmas, Epiphany, Candlemass and the start of Lent, and so on.

    So really, I think its about the density of holy days rather than the weather.
     
  9. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    I am really happy you joined us, and found your post very interesting, and I look forward to talking about the liturgy with you!
     
  10. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    That’s sad, but those are the times we live in.

    I myself feel there should be more services on Sunday Evenings, which could be Vespers/Evensong, or which could consist of a compact Eucharist combined with Vespers and Compline, or an adaptation of the Eastern Orthodox concept of the Vesperal Divine Liturgy. I think these services are needed not so much to accommodate people who squander their Sunday mornings on recreation, but rather to accommodate the increasing number of people who are required to work on Saturday Night or Sunday morning.
     
  11. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    In my last parish I pushed hard for starting a Sunday night service, but my parishioners just would not support it. Here I've instituted a 5pm Sunday Eucharist, and while it's not huge, it is appreciated by folks for whom the mornings are hard for whatever reason.
     
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  12. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    Bit of both I think.

    As long as I have been a member at my parish we have always marked "The Feast of St. Mary, Mother of our Lord on August 15 when it fell on a Sunday as it does this year; Paraments will be White for that service. Likewise with most of the commemorations; white for Feast Days, Red for Martyrs, etc...

    With covid on the run, and high vaccination rates (over 80% of those eligable over the age of 12 have been vaccinated, and just under 70% with both doses) tomorrow we will finally be resuming congregational singing... not a lot, just the Liturgy and the Hymn of the day, but it is a start. We are still wearing masks, and physically seperating... for another few weeks.

    God bless!!
     
  13. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    During Summer here (when we did not have to contend with Covid), we would celebrate the Eucharist on Wed. Evening at 7:30; we got a fair few of those who would normally be doing other activities on Sundays. Sunday evening would not fly here either. My cousin's anglican parish in Toronto also has Wed. evening Eucharist every week. Wednesdays work. ;)
     
  14. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    So interestingly, in the Byzantine Rite, Green is usually worn only on Palm Sunday and Pentecost, sometimes on All Saints Day, the Sunday after Pentecost. Instead, gold and dark red tend to be the two standard colors (because the Typikon actually only specifies light or dark vestments). Purple is used instead of Violet on Sundays in Lent; Blue is used for the Virgin Mary as one would expect, Red, aside from not being used on Pentecost and Palm Sunday, is otherwise used as it would be in the West, black is used on weekdays in Lent and every day in Holy Week except for Holy Thursday, and White is used for feasts of our Lord, Baptisms, Chrismations, Marriages and Funerals. Rose vestments are not an official color, although I have seen them (and technically the only mandatory colors are light and dark vestments; the rest is a matter of traditions and rules specific to individual archdioceses, metropolitan dioceses, monasteries and parish churches), but it is interesting to consider the prevailing custom with regards to liturgical color uses green the same number of times the Roman Rite and derivatives thereof use rose vestments.

    Most of the variants of the Roman Rite are the same when it comes to liturgical color. I have noticed however a tendency in the Dominican mass for predominantly white vestments, with colored trim. In the traditional rite of Lyons, which is one of two, possibly three, regional variants of the Roman Rite to survive (the others being the Rite of Braga in Portugal, and I have heard, some very minimal use of the Rite of Cologne) , on Ash Wednesday, elegant tan colored vestments evocative of ash are worn.

    The Ambrosian Rite is the other liturgical rite with an interesting color system which is different from the Roman Rite, in which red is used during most of “ordinary time”, green is used from Epiphany to Septuagesima, and in Lent, the colors are akin to the Byzantine Rite: on Sundays, Morello (a dark red with a hint of purple; this color also shows up on Eastern Orthodox vestments used in Lent), and during the weekdays, black. I believe they use white on the customary occasions. In a manner similar to the Byzantine Rite, mass is not celebrated on weekdays in Lent, however, the Ambrosian Rite lacks a presanctified liturgy (even on Good Friday, I believe).

    Lastly, as an amusing fact: there appears to be no evidence that in Britain, the Sarum Rite ever used “Sarum Blue” in Advent, but rather, this was a misreading of the rubrics in Victorian times. More authentically British is the Lenten Array, which uses plain, undyed cloth (also, the York liturgy did not even use violet as a liturgical color, but rather, only had white, red, yellow and black). Edit: I do nonetheless like Sarum Blue; the dark blue color I find prettier than violet vestments, and it provides visual differentiation from Lent (where I prefer the dark red/morello color used by the Byzantine and Ambrosian Rite, and the Purple color used by other Byzantine churches.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  15. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    Indeed, if you look at midweek services at Eastern Orthodox churches, Wednesday is the most common day, but actually there is a historic and beautiful ancient reason for why Christians intuitively desire church on Wednesday, I believe, and that is that our community collectively recalls, even if just barely so, the ancient fasts on Wednesday and Friday, and also, Wednesday worship I would further argue is part of the economy of salvation, in that it is the third day after the Lord’s Day, and the third day before the Great Sabbath, as close to the middle of the week as possible without falling on a Thursday, which is not one of the ancient fasting days, but it is associated by many Christians with Maundy Thursday and the Tenebrae Service or the Eastern equivalent, the Twelve Gospels Service.

    Lent as it is celebrated in the West preserves the Occidental recollection of this, in that Christians register as holy Wednesday and Friday, because of Ash Wednesday and the custom of eating only fish on Friday. The Christians from the Eastern churches on the other hand have Wednesday and Friday defined as fasting days.

    In the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Holy Qurbono, which is what they call their Eucharistic liturgy, can only be celebrated on certain days of the week unless there is a feast day, and my recollection is that those days are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.* None of the other two churches of Syriac provenance, the Maronites or the Assyrians, have this restriction (interestingly, the Assyrians call their liturgy the Raza, which means Mystery, although it is also called a Qurbana Qadisha, meaning Holy Sacrifice, within the text of the Liturgy , usually that of Saints Addai and Mari, who were disciples of St. Thomas in his eastward evangelization that ended when he received a crown of martyrdom when a Maharaja threw a spear at him, in 53 AD, but Addai and Mari continued the work of evangelizarion).**

    John Wesley believed we should partake of communion at least every Sunday, and on every Wednesday and Friday it was his desire that the Methodists of North America at least would have a service consisting of the Litany from the Anglican Divine Office, but unfortunately for some reason they never really implemented his liturgical vision. I am hoping the new traditionalist Methodist church might do it. The liturgical club I am a member of has one Methodist minister, and one of our public domain projects is a traditional Methodist service book designed to implement the Wesleyan concept.

    * The Armenians only celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays and major feast days, and during Lent, contrary to the praxis of other churches, only the Priest partakes of the Eucharist.
    ** The Assyrians are the only one of the four ancient churches to practice open communion. If you go to a parish of the Assyrian Church of the East or the Ancient Church of the East, you can partake as long as you believe that our Lord is truly present in the Eucharist. The invitation cards I’ve seen at Assyrian parishes are written in a way that I think even a Calvinist could partake; only people with a Memorialist interpretation, like some Baptists, or anyone who still follows Zwinglianism, would be excluded.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  16. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    Its wonderful you are getting to sing again! You use Sarum Blue at Advent, right? I forgot to mention in my earlier post that even though it is probable the ancient Sarum rite did not use blue, I really like the color, and it helps visually differentiate Advent from Lent. It is also not incompatible with using blue for services relating to the Angels and the Virgin Mary (both of which tend to be commemorated with blue vestments in the Eastern Orthodox Church).
     
  17. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    In Australia it is overwhelmingly the Anglican custom to have a Wednesday service, either in the morning, or at lunchtime. (Here mine is at 9:30am). I am not sure we would get people willing to come in the evening during the week.

    Interesting to see all the discussion of colours; in my previous parish (which liked to think of itself as being liturgically on the cutting edge) their Lenten set was hessian (fortunately, for the sake of those who had to wear it, they had kindly lined it)!
     
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  18. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    It came to us via the Scandinavians; blue for Advent originated there; purple is still OK. Our parish this past advent.

    upload_2021-8-2_18-0-42.png
     
  19. Deegie

    Deegie Priest of the Church Supporter

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    I helped guide my parish through the change from purple to blue during Advent a number of years ago. Didn't really get any push-back, except from the one person who always wants everything to be the way it was 100 years ago. Even after all the teaching about Advent being a time of anticipation (versus penitence), they still insist on a rose candle in the Advent wreath next to the three blue ones. I believe that we are often so attached to our traditions that we fail to recognize the purpose behind them. The way I understand it, the "rose Sundays" were intended to be a break from the disciplines and (some might say) depressing seasons of Advent and Lent. If Advent is reframed in such a way that doesn't make sense anymore, what are we now taking a break from exactly? :scratch:
     
  20. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    Well, I think you are selling Lent short with that model, and also misinterpreting a minor variance in liturgical color as a redefinition of one of the four great fasts of the ancient church (the others being the Apostles and Dormition fasts in the summer) into something it is not. Every Fast ends in a Feast. Even in the Assyrian and Oriental Orthodox tradition, the dreaded prelenten fast of the Rogation of the Ninevites, which involves a three day total fast, ends in a feast.
     
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