A Liturgical Lexicon
originally a minor clerical order but now usually a lay function in the church; the acolyte assists the priest, lights and carries candles, and performs other ceremonial functions.
a special wreath containing five candles used in churches and homes as reminders of the four Sundays before Christmas. Four of the candles are arranged in a circle, the fifth--a white candle--is placed in the center. By tradition one additional candle is lighted each Sunday until on the fourth Sunday all four candles are lighted. On Christmas, the fifth candle is lighted.
the season of the church year immediately prior to Christmas beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas; also the entire Christmas season.
the white robe worn by the priest when celebrating communion; generally worn over daily clothes but under other vestments, scarves, etc.
All Saints' Day
November 1; a feast day in the church in commemoration of all the known and unknown saints.
a special, usually lay, group in a church charged with the maintenance and preparation of the altar and its furnishings in a church; altar guilds may also supervise church decorations and flowers.
a table [located in the sanctuary or the crossing] on which are placed the vessels for holding the bread, wine, and water used in the eucharist or communion.
simply means English; a term indicating the English origins of the Episcopal Church. Sometimes seen in the expressions Anglican Church or Anglican Communion--both of which terms simply indicate any national church which derives from the Church of England
sacred vocal music using scriptural words; now also any vocal music or hymn sung by a choir but not by the congregation. From Old English, antefn, from Greek antiphon (verse-response)
a bishop over a group of dioceses or national church; for instance, the Archbishop of South Africa or New Zealand. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the presiding bishop of the Church of England; and is generally acknowledged as the titular head of the worldwide Anglican communion.
a priest who is on a bishop's staff and who exercises some administrative supervision over parishes, missions, priests, or programs for the bishop; archdeacons are referred to as "The Venerable" [The VenArchdeacons sometimes wear purple instead of black cassocks.
the day which marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a period of spiritual discipline, fasting and moderation in preparation for Holy Week and Easter; one of the most important days of the church year. In the Ash Wednesday service, ashes are lightly smeared onto the forehead of a person by the priest or bishop. On this day in Sewanee, a number of people may be seen who appear to have a black or gray smudge on their forehead.
Bishop and Council
a type of diocesan government; the council is a governing or advisory body usually selected from several sub-divisions of a diocese.
a specially ordained or otherwise specially designated person who has the spiritual and liturgical rank of a bishop and who usually assists the Bishop of a diocese; some retired diocesan bishops become assistants to other bishops; some assistant bishops are specially ordained for their work. Assistant Bishops can perform most functions performed by other bishops.
an ordained person consecrated to become the next bishop of a diocese when the diocesan bishop retires; when the bishop retires or resigns, the Co-adjutor becomes the Diocesan and the term Co-adjutor is dropped. Suffragan bishops do not automatically become diocesan bishops.
the primary bishop of a diocese; sometimes referred to as "The Diocesan": the Diocesan of Massachusetts is The Rt. Rev. Thomas Shaw, Jr, Bishop of Massachusetts.
a working co-bishop in a diocese but without inherent right of succession when the diocesan bishop retires or resigns. The Diocese of Massachusetts has two Suffragans, The Rt. Rev. Roy 'Bud' Cederholm and The Rt. Rev. Gail Harris. Suffragan bishops are sometimes called by another diocese to become their Diocesan bishop.
Book Of Common Prayer
a collection of prayers, readings, Psalms, devotions, and services used by the Episcopal Church; the worship book used by Episcopalians. Nearly all services in any Episcopal Church will be printed in this book.
the title of a priest who serves on the staff cathedral, except that the head staff priest of the cathedral is the dean; the canon is addressed as "The Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd." Salutation in letter: "Dear Canon Lloyd" or "Dear Ms. Lloyd".
a person who chants or sings; often a solo voice that begins the service. The Festival of Lessons and Carols begins with the solo of the cantor.
the black or colored robe often worn by worn by priests, bishops, acolytes and the choir; bishops' cassocks are usually purple. At Christ Church, the sacred ministers and acolytes instead wear albs; the choir's blue vestments are cassocks.
an Episcopal, Orthodox, or Roman Catholic Church which is the official church of an archbishop, or the bishop of a diocese; sometimes such churches are indicated by the word Cathedral in their name, but not always. Cathedrals are usually in the charge of a priest who is referred to as the Dean of the Cathedral (titled "The Very Reverend..."). The designation Cathedral does not necessarily denote a large church; many cathedrals are modest or even small, such as The Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, or the Diocese of New Hampshire, which has no cathedral.
literally, "universal" or "found everywhere"; usually, however, a reference to the Roman Catholic Church although the term also includes Anglican, Syrian, Greek, Coptic, Russian and other churches. The Episcopal Church is a catholic church. Catholic churches generally accept the teachings of tradition as well as scripture and usually accept the validity of one or more ancient creeds as the summary of the Christian faith.
the main priest in a Eucharist; the priest who performs the consecration of the bread and wine; the celebrant may be assisted by other priests, deacons, chalice bearers, acolytes, etc. A full complement of Sacred Ministers is comprised of a Celebrant, Deacon and Subdeacon, each identified by their position relative to the Celebrant, and usally by their vestments, as well.
the portion of a church between the front row of pews and the altar; it also frequently encloses the place the choir sits; sometimes an area eponymously named the "choir." In the Chapel of Christ Church, the choir is in the Chancel, but not in the main church.
the spiritual head of a clerical house, order, college, or university; in some dioceses the chancellor is the chief administrative assistant to the bishop; at Sewanee the Chancellor is the bishop of one of the owning dioceses who has special religious oversight of the University and who is the president of the Board of Trustees.
a musical recitation of words midway between reading and singing. Also called plainsong or plainchant.
This term has multiple uses: A place of worship lacking a parish congregation [although chapels may have a permanent clergyman]; chapels may be large or small, private or institutional. A term for a place of Episcopal worship associated with a college, university, or seminary. A small place of worship attached to (or within) a larger structure, or on the campus of a parish with a separate parish church.
The minister in charge of a chapel or a minister to a group of people who are not organized as a mission or church. A minister who holds a service at a hospital would be referred to as a chaplain.
The sleeveless outer vestment worn by the celebrant at the eucharist. The chasuble typically matches the liturgical color appointed for the season or day, and is worn over all other vestments, including cassock-and-surplice, alb, stole, etc. The chasuble (and cope, ie, cape) are both derived from the outdoor cloak worn by all classes in the Greco-Roman world. The chasuble may be oval or oblong. The Deacon and Subdeacon wear a variant called a Dalmatic.
A special group of singers who chant or sing during a worship service; also, the part of the church where the choir sits, at Church, in the transept, and in the chapel at Christ Church, in the chancel.
Church of England
the name of the Episcopal Church in England.
the smallest social division of the Episcopal Church; above the church is the diocese; above the diocese is the province; above the province is the national church. Sometimes church refers to the local building; sometimes to the local congregation. See also parish, congregation, communicants.
the group of ordained ministers of a church or denomination; all ministers together as distinguished from lay persons. When used in distinction from laity, the term includes both bishops and priests; sometimes the term refers to all priests except the bishops: as in the expression, "All bishops and other clergy..."
an adjective referring to ordained persons and their work.
the members of a local church; those who do or who are eligible to receive communion; loosely identified with the roll of the local church.
the Christian sacramental meal, equivalent to the Lord's Supper; now more commonly called 'eucharist' in Episcopal churches; also called Mass in Roman Catholic churches.
an evening service to end the day; it was originally the concluding office of prayer the canonical hours. It was restored to regular use in the 1976 Book of Common Prayer.
1) a special service of dedication or ordination; a church may is consecrated -- made holy to God's purposes; 2) a service by which an ordained person becomes a bishop.
a disciplined spiritual residential community for women; similar to a monastery.
a gathering every three years of the national Episcopal Church; at General Convention each diocese is represented by appointed or elected deputies. At General Convention the basic regulations and decisions that govern the church are made. For voting, the General Convention consists of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.
a meeting of a church body, as in a diocesan convention.
a short form of the surplice, a white vestment worn above cassock by choir members or acolytes. Originially worn as a winter garment, the term means 'outer garment,' is from ealier forms that have come down to us as the word 'coat.'
a group for diocesan government; and appointed or elective group that advises the bishop; at the diocesan level similar to the vestry at the parish level; sometimes referred to as "Bishop-and-Council".
1) In church architecture, the main intersection of aisles at the front of the church; in traditional architecture, the nave, transepts and apse intersect at the crossing. At Christ Church, a Tau-shaped cruciform, the altar is technically in the crossing, though we refer to the crossing as the area at the head of the main aisle, outside the communion rail. The chapel, with no transepts, does not have a crossing. 2) In a service, crossing refers to a hand gesture of making a cross pattern on one's body; also a gesture made by a priest or bishop over a congregation or upon a person at death or baptism, and at the absolution.
a person in a religious procession who bears the cross and who leads the procession into the church. From Latin, "cross-bearer."
a kind of Christian symbol which is a cross with a likeness of the body of Christ on it. It's use in the Episcopal Church is considered to be an Anglo-Catholic practice.
1) a deacon or other person not fully ordained who receives a fee for working in a small parish; the parish a curate works for is his 'cure.' 2) the newest or youngest assistant to the rector of a large parish. Curates generally do not have full responsibility for their parish. Equivalent to a vicar.
a ritual or service for returning a former sacred building or site to a non-sacred status; church buildings no longer in use as churches are de-consecrated before being sold or destroyed.
From the Greek word diakonos, servant. 1) the initial level of ordination in the Episcopal Church; there is also an order of permanent Deacons who serve the church in various important tasks. Unlike protestant churches where deacon is a lay office, in the Episcopal Church Deacon it is a clerical order. Deacons often have special clerical duties; by tradition the Gospel is read by the deacon if a deacon is on the staff of a church or chapel. 2) In a full Eucharistic complement of Sacred Ministers, the Deacon and Subdeacon are ceremonial roles, and they stand to the right and left, respectively, of the Celebrant; the Deacon is usually ordained, the subdeacon is very often a lay minister.
title used for the resident clergyman of a cathedral; also used for the chief academic officer of a college or seminary. If the dean is ordained, the title "The Very Reverend" is used; if the dean is a lay person, this title is not used. The Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul is The Very Reverend Jep Streit.
an official church or diocesan delegate to a meeting; a deputy may be clerical or lay.
the order of those holding the office of Deacon.
a unit of church organization; the spiritual domain under a bishop; an antiquated synonym is bishopric. A diocese usually is comprised of parish churches. The odd pronunciation (DIE-o-sis) owes to its most recent derivation from French;o he word is originally from Greek dioikesis, household (either literally or figuratively). The plural, dioceses, is pronounced DIE-o-seez.
January 6; a feast celebrating the visit of the magi to the infant Jesus; the twelfth day of the liturgical Christmas season. Epiphany is from a Greek word referring to revelation, this day celebrating the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles.
the name of a form of church organization governed by an overseer, or in the Greek language of the early church, episkopos (lit., overseer). An organization administered at the level of the local elders, presbyters, would be Presbyterian. A church governed by the congregation....you can see where this is going.
a reading from the New Testament other than from the Gospels; also any reading from the Bible other than the Gospels or Psalms.
typically, the right side of a church when facing the altar, where there is typically a lectern from which the Reader (or Lector) reads the Lesson and Episle. This older usage is not universally true; at Christ Church, for example, this traditional assignment is evident in the chapel, but in the 1961 church building, the Lesson and Epistle are read from the pulpit, which is on the left. See Gospel Side.
a "good gift" or thanksgiving; the current usage in the Episcopal Church to refer to communion or the Lord's Supper.
In contemporary Anglican use, a choral evening prayer service featuring a choir. Evensong follows the order of Evening Prayer, an office created by Thomas Cranmer in the first Book of Common Prayer when he merged the canoncial hours of Vespers (at sunset) and Compline (the day's final prayers) into a single service.
a basin of water used in baptism. From the same root word that gives us "fountain."
the national triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church; parishes send "deputies" or official representatives to General Convention.
any reading from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John in the New Testament; also a general reference to the essential message of the Christian faith. From the Anglo-Saxon Godspell, good news, lit., "good spiel." In the original, the first syllable had a long 'o' as in road.
an older usage for designating the interior of a church; originally, the Gospel Side was the left side, the pulpit side. At Christ Church, this traditional assignment is evident; in the main church, there is no longer an Epistle side, so this designation is not in use. See Epistle Side.
1) a designation of a church emphasizing theological or liturgical formality; a church with several vested assistants and a highly detailed ceremony; 2) a church that sings or chants its service rather than reading or speaking it. Such churches sometimes appear to be more "catholic" and are frequently referred to as Anglo-Catholic.
a way of referring to ordination among Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and others: an ordained person is spoken of as "being in holy orders"--meaning that the person has made priestly vows and has been admitted by a bishop into one of the several levels of ordination.
the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday; most important period of the church year with many special services.
a short sermon often on a single topic of devotion or morality.
House of Bishops
all the bishops of the Episcopal church sitting as a legislative and judiciary body of the church.
House of Deputies
as the lay and presbyter delegates to a general convention sitting as a legislative body.
1) sacred words set to music, 2) church vocal music involving the congregation and distinguished from the Psalm or anthem.
the "smell" element in Smells & Bells; a fragrant [and now usually hpyo-allergenic] powder burned in a small dish or pot; used during the service or in the processions in recollection of one of the three gifts of the Wisemen to the Christ Child.
a service in which a person is made the official bearer of a clerical or academic office: the Installation of the Dean or Vice-Chancellor; a service at which an already consecrated bishop is installed as bishop of a diocese. Bishops, Deans, and Canons are installed. Rectors are not, strictly speaking, installed. For Celebration of a New Ministry, see Institution.
Celebration of a New Ministry is the form for the institution or induction of a priest as the rector of a parish, this also covers the institution of deacons and lay persons with pastoral responsibilities.
the assistant to the Senior Warden; typically becomes Senior Warden after the Senior Warden's term is up. Christ Church currently has two co-wardens.
the non-ordained members of a church; all lay persons together; "the people" as distinguished from "the clergy".
a person who is not ordained, but who works closely with a church or religious program. Some lay ministers are un-paid volunteers; some are paid staff members of a church.
any non-ordained person; in the Episcopal church today. From the Greek word for "people."
any non-ordained person who participates in reading part of a church service. In some churches Lay Readers are officially recognized as a special group assisting in church services.
from laios, a Greek word meaning the people.
a raised platform with railing used for reading prayers or scripture; usually located at the front of the nave opposite the pulpit. From Latin, lectrum, from legere, to read; other derivations include 'lector' and 'lecture.'
An ordered system for reading the Holy Scriptures at the Eucharist and the Daily Offices. It is usually presented in the form of a table of references for the psalms and readings for the various days of the liturgical year. The Eucharistic cycle takes three years to complete; the lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer take one year.
the period of fasting, sobriety and meditation following Ash Wednesday; in the past Lent was widely associated with denial or "giving something up for Lent." The season recalls the period of Christ's fasting and meditation in the wilderness, so traditionally is for a period of forty days--from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, with Sundays considered non-fast days. The term is derived from the Anglo Saxon word for 'lengthen,' marking the lengthening days of spring.
Lesson and Carols
The order of Lessons and Carols was created by in 1880 by Edward White Benson, Bishop of Truro.
also the Epistle; any reading from the Bible except the Gospels or Psalms; usually read on the opposite side of the church from where the Gospel is read; in older practice the Lesson was read from the "Epistle Side"--the right side facing the altar, while the Gospel was read from the "Gospel Side"--the left side facing the altar. In the 1927 Chapel of Christ Church, the Epistle is still read from the lectern on the right. Current practice in many Episcopal churches now varies widely.
literally the word means the work of the people; generally used to refer to the full text of the words of a worship service; any ritual order for holding a church service.
a church that is less formal; a church that does not chant or sing its service; a church that alternates Morning Prayer with Eucharist; such churches sometimes appear to be more "protestant".
M . Div.
Master of Divinity; the basic American theological degree; in earlier years, the first theological degree was the B.D. [Bachelor of Divinity], but in the late 1960's many American divinity schools began to allow their earlier graduates to exchange their B.D. degrees for the newer M.Div. degree.
the Roman Catholic name for the Christian liturgical rite centered on the sacramental meal, usually referred to by Episcopalians as communion or eucharist. From the Latin phrase, "ite, missa est." ("Go, this is your dismissal.")
The celebration of the institution of the Lord's Supper, observed on Thursday of Holy Week; from the Latin word mandatum, which begins the verse at John 13:34, Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you."
Mission, Mission Church
a local Episcopal congregation under the auspices of the bishop that has not yet attained the status of a church with a full-time priest; also a church that has lost its church status and reverted to mission status.
liturgical hat of a bishop.
a morning worship service without communion; now this service has generally been replaced by a eucharistic or communion service.
the enclosed space at the entry end of the nave of a church
the main part of a church; the place where the congregation sits. Derived from the Latin word for ship (think of the word, navy); in older churches the beams of the roof resembled the beams and timbers in the hull of a ship. This symbolism is on full display in the Chapel of Christ Church.
a speical service for inducting a person into holy orders; the ritual that makes a person a priest or minister.
the Sunday before Easter, and the beginning of Holy Week, reminiscent of Christ's final week in Jerusalem. Recalling Christ's entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey while the people waved palms and cried Hosanna!, members of the congregation carry palms during the service. Traditionally, the palms from one year are saved, dried and later burned to make the ashes used at the next year's Ash Wednesday service.
a gathering place for a local congregation separate from the church building.
the group of people of a certain area who are organized into a local church; sometimes the word also refers to the geographic region around a church. It is the basis of the Roman Catholic word, parochial.
Acronym for the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. See TEC.
a short way of referring to the Book of Common Prayer, the worship book of the Episcopal Church containing services, psalms, prayers, etc.
the elected episcopal head of the Episcopal Church in America [PECUSA]; the chief administrator and spiritual head of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church does not refer to its head bishop as an archbishop.
a special term for the minister of a Roman Catholic or Episcopal or Orthodox church; originally the term mean someone who performed a sacrifice; later the term referred to those who said Mass; now often synonymous with minister although the older terminology is still familiar in some churches. Equivalent to the early church presbyter, elder.
the line of choir, clergy, acolytes, crucifer, torchbearers and others walking into a church to begin a service.
one of the major organizational divisions of the Episcopal Church; a group of dioceses usually under the parliamentary direction of a diocesan bishop who serves as president of the province.
a raised platform with railing used for the sermon or homily; generally located to one side of the front of the nave, not in the center as in churches that organize their service around the sermon.
this color [or some shade of violet] in vestments usually indicates that the wearer is a bishop.
a day of prayer and meditation often in conjunction with a retreat
anyone who reads a lesson, psalm or prayer in a service. Lay persons may read any lesson, however the Gospel reading is usually done by an ordained cleric.
a procession out of a church (as at Christ Church, also called the Retiring Procession).
the priest or minister of a local church or parish; the head priest of a parish.
the residence of a rector; the place where an Episcopal minister lives.
A funeral service or memorial service. From the Latin words of the Introit: Requiem aeternum dona eis domine, "Rest eternal grant them, O Lord."
Rite One, Rite I
A portion of the Book of Common Prayer which contains worship services using the older language of the 1928 edition of the prayerbook, and following the contours of the Reformation theology that forms the basis for this form.
Rite Two, Rite II
A portion of the Book of Common Prayer containing worship services which use more modern language. In the 1976 Book of Common Prayer, there are several forms of Eucharist in Rite Two language, based on much older forms, and one that is quite contemporary.
Liturgical assistants who have charge of sacred vessels, vestments, etc.
The room near the altar where priests vest for the service; the room where the communion vessels and vestments are kept.
The portion of a church at the head of the chancel around the altar, usually the area enclosed by the communion rail. In Episcopal usage, this word is not used to refer entire worship space. (See Nave, Transept, Narthex and Choir.)
Generally Roman Catholic usage referring to the ecclesiastical residence of a bishop; occasionally used by Episcopalians
the chairman of the vestry; the lay person who heads the governing board of the local church. At Christ Church, the vestry is led by a pair of co-wardens.
The title for the person in charge of the church building [or a special portion of it] and grounds; in America the Sexton is also commonly head of maintenance and custodial services and may perform additional duties such as ringing the church bell. A derivation of Sacristan.
Smells & Bells
A way of describing a "high" church; a church that frequently uses incense, a Sanctus bell, vestments, and other appointments all together in worship services.
A long, narrow strip of cloth denoting ordained status. It is worn by priests around the back of the neck, by deacons it is worn over one shoulder and tied at the opposite waist. Typically, stoles reflect the appropriate color for the liturgical season or day.
see Bishop, Suffragan.
Awhite over-garment worn over other vestments; in Anglican and Episcopal use, it is longer than the similar vestment known as a cotta (q.v.). A vestige of winter use, it is from a garment known as a superpelliceum (over the lambskin, which in its French form is surplice). The Choir of Christ Church wears a surplice over a blue cassock.
Acronym for the Episcopal Church
Torch [Torch Bearer]
A person who carries a candle in a religious procession; often the Crucifer is followed by two torchbearers, each carrying a candle mounted on a staff. In earlier times, this was as much as a matter of function as ceremony, as the torches provided illumination
Transepts are the 'arms' of a liturgical space that create a cruciform shape. Typical in some large cathedrals, it becomes less common in parish churches. The Chapel at Christ Church, for example, does not have transepts. The transepts of the main building create its signature cruciform shape, referred to as a Tau cross, after the Greek word for the letter T.
Twelve Days of Christmas
the time from December 25th to January 6th, that is from Christmas day to Epiphany. The time from the first Sunday in Advent until Christmas Eve is, properly, Advent; the time from December 25th to January 6th is the Christmas season or the "Twelve Days of Christmas."
an older usage for someone who carries a mace or ceremonial staff in procession; vergers sometimes also had responsibility for the condition of the interior of a church.
Very Reverend, The
a form of address for clergy who hold the office of dean in a church or school: the dean of a cathedral would be referred to as "The Very Reverend Mally Lloyd, Canon to the Ordinary". (The 'Ordinary' is the bishop, one who ordains.) See also Dean.
Clothing worn by people who lead the services of a church, especially by clergy. [The clothing worn by monks and nuns is usually called a 'habit.'] Colors used in some vestments are changed during the year to indicate the seasons of the church year. Vestments are usually styled by cut and color to indicate whether a person is a deacon, presbyter, or bishop. Bishops' vestments for instance include a purple shirt.
governing board of a local Episcopal church consisting of lay members, much like the board of deacons in a Baptist church; the group that usually makes basic decisions about church budget, building plans, etc. Usually headed by a Senior Warden assisted by a Junior Warden who often follows the Senior Warden in office.
an older English term referring to a priest in charge of a vicarage--a parish under the supervision of the bishop.
W, X, Y, Z
the bread part of the Lord's Supper; often an unleavened, thin bread; sometimes the wafer is imprinted with a cross; some wafers are large, being several inches in diameter, especially the one used by the Celebrant at the consecration and fraction.
the beverage portion of communion symbolizing the blood of Christ. Communion wine is fermented grape juice and is therefore alcoholic.