12 December 2009

Blue vestments

If Spain is entitled to blue vestments on December 8 because of its role in promoting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, I would have thought that a fortiori England would be even more entitled.

The use of blue among Anglicans for Advent is part of the old (Percy nutcase and dishonest plagiariser Dearmer) idea that you show you are are a loyal Anglican and not a beastly Romaniser by discovering details in medieval English usage which diverge from modern Roman custom, and then proudly parading them. An example of such Dearmerism, so I have been told, survives at Exeter Cathedral, where they use blue in Advent. If true, this is all the more daft because, whatever they did elsewhere in England, at Exeter Bishop Grandisson's Ordinale (14th century) clearly required violet (the old boy very naturally preferred to operate iuxta morem curie Romane).

It does, however allow optionally (non inconvenienter indui possent) the use of blue on double feasts in Advent and Lent. Since the Conception was a festum duplex, we have here "English" precedent for using blue on December 8.

Rumour has it that the use of light blue for feasts of the Theotokos is common in the Russian and other 'Slavic' Churches. Is this by Wesatern influence? I find it a little unexpected in as far as in Byzantine iconography our Lady is normatively clad in red.


rev'd up said...

How about the Octave?

I get out the blue if for no other reason than that the blue in the frontal and chausible match.

Other than the IC, blue during Advent is totally novus ordo. Some believe it hearkens back to Salisbury; but what do they care about that, they don't use its liturgy?

Christian said...

Indeed, I thought that blue was for Requiems in the Russian Church.

andrew said...

The Orthodox service books don't mention colours at at all, just bright and brightest and dark and darkest. The rubrics books that are issued from time to time by local churches may give some direction as to appropriate colour, but there is not only much local variation, but sometimes things change. For example, although the use of white at Pascha was once almost universal in one of the larger American jurisdictions, recently red - after the contemporary fashion of the Russian Church - is now common and noted in the annual rubrics book. Blue has come to be associated with feasts of the Mother of God, at least among Slavs; most people would imagine that this has its origins among what were once called the little Russians. Blue or red are both commonly used for the Nativity Fast. As to funerals and memorial services, there has come into fashion the use of white, perhaps paschal vestments, a reversal of long-standing practise of using black vestments. Many of us do not use any particular colour for these services, simply the colour of the season in which they fall.

Geoff said...

The Western rite Orthodox monastery in my region (with celebrates the Gregorian Liturgy) uses blue for both Advent (except for rose on Gaudete) and feasts of Our Lady. And I have to admit to being quite partial to the crimson High Mass set my diocese's cathedral has for Passiontide.

Rubricarius said...

Not someone else bashing dear old Percy Dearmer. OK he may have been a bit of a rogue and certainly had some very odd ideas in 'The Art of Public Worship' but a lot of 'The Parsons Handbook' is not bad and I understand was the ispiration for Conrad Noel and Jack Putteril at Thaxted. Percy's crushed blue velvet vestments are still used at SMVPH even if worn by girlies now.

The blue thing gets rather silly IMHO. Firstly the distincion between blue and violet, as colours of vestments, is not that clear cut. The Saint Bede Studio blog has an interesting post about the stablity and rarity of various dyes which I recommend.

Blue, violet and black are all part of the same family of colours anyway (from a liturgical point of view) and the earliest colour sequence from Jerusalem has black for Advent, Lent, the first Mass of Christmas and the BVM.

Good old Blighty didn't use blue for the BVM. I'm open to the idea, indeed I told our esteemed blog host that if I win the Lotto I'll buy him a blue set (I haven't told him they will be full conical and very Gothic in their decoration!).

We are all conditioned by our experiences and I know my first sight of liturgical blue was the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh wearing a magnificent dark blue sakkos (about the same shade as the ground on the blue chasuble Canon Robin Ward was wearing in the pics referred to in an earlier post) and matching dark blue mitre for the feast of the Dormition about fifteen years ago. I have been hooked ever since.

rev'd up said...

A dark blue mitre is very avant-garde.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Atch'ly, I do have a Warham Guild gothic blue chasuble. I used to wear it sometimes in Devon. But since the orphreys are black, it doesn't quite seem to me in the spirit of the thing for our Lady. (By the way, I disapprove of the WG for the same reasons as I disapprove of PD: getting a ride on the back of other people's genius or erudition. In the case of WG, it was Comper-on-the-cheap).