Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Passion Sunday and Passiontide

For those of us who remain classical prayer book Anglicans this coming Sunday is Passion Sunday. The unbleached white of the Lenten Array will be put away and the altar and the vestments of the clergy will again be red, but this time the dark red of dried blood. Of course, those among us who follow the usage of Pius V - you remember him, the fellow who excommunicated Elizabeth I - will still be using violet as good Pius legislated when he introduced his 'reformed' Tridentine version of the Roman liturgy. That is to show everyone what good 'catholics' they are when a really good Catholic is known for following the rules of the liturgy to which he was ordained. And that, of course, presumes that they know them or even know that they exist.
The marvelous thing about the English or Anglican colour usage is that like most things truly Anglican it is scripturally based. That of the Roman rite can make, as far as I can see, no such claim. The two major Anglican colours are white and red with a festal and ferial version of both. More accurately white is the festal colour being used for the major feasts of our Lord and the virgin Mary while the brighter version of red is used for the Sundays after Epiphany and those after Trinity. But then we also have the toned white of the Lenten Array for the first four Sundays in Lent and the ferias following while the darker version of red is used from Passion Sunday through the first part of the Easter Vigil save for the white of the Maundy eucharist and the black of Good Friday. Now I should think that we all understand the Scriptural basis of the use of white, but just how many Anglicans or others know where in Holy Scripture and on what day in the ancient lectionary system our Lord claims red for his very own colour? And, yes, it is in the Book of Common Prayer.


Alice C. Linsley said...

I give. Where? Where?

Canon Tallis said...

Monday before Easter: Isai. lxiii. i. "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel? And thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat? I have trodden the wine-press alone: and of the people there was none with me. For I will tread them in mine anger and trample them in my fury: and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment."

And, of course, there was the reference in yesterday's passion to the clothing of our Lord in a red robe to be mocked of the soldiers.

Thanks for reading it and thank you again for the response.

Anonymous said...

Dear Canon,

Excellent post on the virtues of the Sarum colour scheme.

I recall the justifiable outrage of a Roman Catholic acquaintance of mine, who came home livid from Mass because the recessional hymn had been the Reformation Hymn and the Sunday happened to be Reformation Sunday! I found it somewhat funny that the irony in this "Order of Service" was lost on my friends choir director and clerics, even after he pointed it out to them!

I suspet my friend would find it bit humorous too that I often become livid when "Pius the Hit Man" Purple is used in supposedly Anglican Churches during Lent and Advent. If a priest is going to do this, he might as well as go ahead and spit on Elizabeth I's grave, toast Guy Fawkes, and kiss B16's Prada clad feat!

* * * * *

Correct me if I am wrong, Padre, but Marian Blue was oft employed in Advent in the Sarum Usage, instead of the presently ubiquitous Pious Purple. In any case, I have seen it down and found it edifying.


Lord Peter

Canon Tallis said...

The colours for the feasts of our Lady were not so tightly regulated in the Sarum use. We know from the inventories that among them were white, blue, rose, and even black. They came as the gifts of the parishioners and what they thought appropriate. And possibly what they had to give. it must be remembered that England in the hundred years before the Reformation was a country made poor by years of civil war.
A further thought on red as the colour of Jesus: it seems that those children taken from the fundamentalist LDS compound have from some place a knowledge that red is our Lord's colour and the Texas Department of Social Services has issued orders that the foster parents who have temporary custody of the children are not to dress them in this colour as they would find it offensive.