The Seasons at S. Paul’s

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Each special event and season throughout the Christian year is marked by its appointed colour, hymns and liturgical details.

The cycle begins with the penitential season of Advent, when the church hears the call of S. John the Baptist to repent.

During this period in place of the Responsorial Psalm the Choir sings the solemnly beautiful Advent Prose (NEH 501) which is a collection of sentences that relate the intentions, promises and hopes of Advent.

The liturgical colour for the four weeks of Advent is violet…

Violet chasuble

…except for Advent 3 – Gaudete Sunday.

Gaudete means Rejoice, which is the first word of the Introit Antiphon.

The traditional colour for this Sunday is rose pink.

The climax of Advent is Christmas, the great feast of The Incarnation.

The correct colour for this feast is white which by tradition may be enhanced with gold.:

White chasuble

Following the custom of St Francis, the Nave Altar is arranged as the Holy Crib, into which the celebrant at the Midnight Mass places the image of the baby Jesus.

The High Altar is dressed with an elaborately embroidered Christmas frontal.

The Christmas Frontal

On one side are the shepherds bearing witness to the birth of Jesus, and on the other side are the three wise men, the first gentiles to adore the Christ Child with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This event is celebrated on the twelfth day of Christmas, 6th January, the feast of The Epiphany of the Lord.

Most weeks of the year are in Ordinary Time and the colour of the vestments and altars is green…

…which at S. Paul’s can look quite splendid!

Before January is out we celebrate our Patron Saint and The Conversion of St Paul. The colour for the feast of an Apostle and Martyr is red…

…for the fire of the Holy Spirit; red for feasts of the Passion, for blood, for cardinals and the colour of mourning for Popes.

The long penitential season of Lent is also marked with violet vestments, which can be a deep purple or a plush burgundy.

Each Sunday the Choir sings the austere and penitential Lent Prose (NEH 507) in place of the Responsorial Psalm.

Palm Sunday and Pentecost are celebrated in red, as is Good Friday if vestments are worn.

The high feast of Easter is white – and the altar is arrayed at its best with a fine lace super frontal.

For most of the year the colour is green but white is also used for other local celebrations…

…an Ordination at St Bartholomew’s, Brighton

Funerals and Requiems may call for some of the black vestments.

Sometimes, as when away on pilgrimage, it is best to keep vestments to a minimum…

in Rome …

…or when away with the clan at Walsingham, where there is more than enough local colour.

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