The Worship of the Church - and The Beauty of Holiness
by Jacob A. Regester
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E-text prepared by Al Haines

Transcriber's note:

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book. For its Index, a page number has been placed only at the start of that section.


And the Beauty of Holiness



Rector of St. Paul's Church, Buffalo, N. Y.

"Oh, may I dwell in His Temple blest, As long as my life may be, And the beauty fair of the Lord of Hosts, In the home of His glory see!" BISHOP COXE, Christian Ballads

New York James Pott & Company 285 Fourth Avenue 1898

Copyright, 1898, by James Pott & Co.

First Edition. Printed, January, 1898. Second Edition, Revised. Printed, May, 1898.


The material in this manual is, so far as known, accessible only in a number of books. Obligation to those from which it has been gathered has not been expressed by references, which must have marked nearly every page, but, instead, a list has been appended which may be consulted if it is desired to verify statements or to study more fully any subject presented.

The object in view has not been to discuss the propriety, or lawfulness, or obligation of any matter referred to, but simply to give information.



WORSHIP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 THE CHURCH, THE PLACE OF WORSHIP . . . . . . . . . 11 SYMBOLISM OF THE CHURCH BUILDING . . . . . . . . . 17 ARRANGEMENT AND FURNITURE OF THE CHURCH . . . . . 37 SYMBOLIC ORNAMENTS OF THE CHURCH . . . . . . . . . 51 HOW TO USE THE PRAYER-BOOK . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 DEVOUT CUSTOMS AND USAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 LIST OF BOOKS FOR REFERENCE . . . . . . . . . . . 119 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121


The Beauty of Holiness


The worship of Almighty God is one of the characteristic acts of humanity. The brute looks up to heaven, but man alone looks up with thought of God and to adore. "The entire creation grew together to reflect and repeat the glory of God, and yet the echo of God slumbered in the hollow bowels of the dumb earth until there was one who could wake up the shout by a living voice. Man is the first among the creatures to deliver back from the rolling world this conscious and delicious response, the recognition of the Father who begat him. He, and he alone, is nature's priest, her spokesman, her mediator."


The idea of worship, in which the crown and glory of manhood thus has expression, "includes all those acts which make up the devotional duty of the soul to Almighty God." Our private and family devotions are acts of worship. They enter into its obligation, are comprehended by it, but do not fill it out. They are not sufficient alone. The due acknowledgment before others of our belief in and reverence for God, the blessings which attend only upon the use of united praise and prayer and of Sacraments, the honor of God, the rendering of "thanks for the great benefits that we have received at His hands," the setting forth of "His most worthy praise,"—all demand the public act of worship.

The obligation and privilege of such worship cannot be too greatly exalted. It is not a matter of inclination merely; it is an imperative duty, the discharge of which may not be regulated by considerations of convenience, or indolence, or pleasure. To neglect it, is to dishonor God, to withhold what is His due. It is also to dishonor ourselves, to violate our own noblest instincts. No other act of which we as men are capable is so dignified or so worthy of ourselves. Not to worship is to debase ourselves.

This duty and privilege of worship the church and the Prayer-Book help us to perform. Just as {9} other buildings about us—homes, stores, factories, schools, libraries—stand for and represent certain interests and departments of our lives, so the church as a building makes its claim and reminds us that there must also be room—a large place and sacred—in our lives for worship, and supplies the hallowed means and helpful associations for its right discharge. And what the church supplies the means of doing fittingly, the Prayer-Book directs. It comes with the reminder that while Sunday brings the great opportunity of worship, the obligation is not a thing of one day only, but of every day, and that our public worship should be "daily," if possible. It enables every one who comes into the church to be a worshiper. It gives to each one his part. It makes no distinctions. High and low, rich and poor, have equal share in the service. It teaches to worship reverently, and in spirit and in truth. "Everything in the Prayer-Book is solemn, humble, reverential, as it respects man, and ennobling and glorifying as it respects God." And this is meet and right. For, as has been truly said, "Worship is the concentration and consecration of whatever is noble in the world. It is the dedication to the Most High of all that is best in what the eye can see, the ear hear, the voice sing, the hand execute, {10} and the mind conceive. It is the sanctification of color, sound, and skill, of intellect, imagination, and emotion. It is devotion—devotion of what is excellent in man, devotion of what symbolizes the loveliness of nature. Therefore it is that worship calls for art; therefore, too, it is that art so often finds its noblest use in worship. Worship and art together take the beauty of the world and offer it up as a tribute at the feet of God."


The Church, the Place of Worship

It would seem that at first Christians worshiped in any place which they could use with safety. "But soon the Lord revealed Himself to the world as the King of it, until in a few generations the earth was covered with His shrines, and mines and forests and human skill offered to Him their best gifts." "The custom of setting apart places and houses as holy and dedicated to God's worship was ever a part of the faith of God's people." Thus it was said to Israel in the wilderness, "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." Of the building of the Temple Solomon says, "Behold, I purpose to build a house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, {12} whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build a house unto My name." Our Lord confirms this practice as one of sound and true religion. He called the Temple "My Father's house," and by cleansing it of buyers and sellers showed that it was to be used for no other purpose than the worship of God. Christians from the earliest days have had consecrated places which were held in reverence as distinct from the home. And so the Prayer-Book says, "Devout and holy men, as well under the Law as under the Gospel, moved either by the express command of God, or by the secret inspiration of the blessed Spirit, and acting agreeably to their own reason and sense of the natural decency of things, have erected houses for the public worship of God, and separated them from all unhallowed, worldly, and common uses, in order to fill men's minds with greater reverence for His glorious Majesty, and affect their hearts with more devotion and humility in His service; which pious works have been approved of and graciously accepted by our heavenly Father."

It is an ancient custom to dedicate churches to the glory of God and in honor of some special saint. This custom probably arose from the fact that in early days churches were commonly built over the {13} graves of martyrs, or in the place of their martyrdom, and hence were called by their names. Sometimes the church is named from some fact in the sacred history of our redemption, as the Incarnation, the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Epiphany, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension. Or it may take its name from the Holy Trinity, or from some title of our Lord or of the Holy Ghost. Or it may be named for one or all of the holy angels. It must be felt to be a decided advantage to have the place of the worship of God designated by a dignified name, and one non-secular and religious in its associations.

The word "church," by which we designate the place of divine worship, being derived from the Greek kuriakon, the Lord's house, embodies the idea of its sacred character.

A canon, or law, of the Church forbids consecration so long as a debt remains on the building. It may, however, before consecration be used for worship.

As consecrated and set apart for the holy offices of religion, the church is the proper place for the ministration of the Sacraments, and, preferably, for marriages and burials. The Church's rule in reference to Holy Baptism is that even children shall {14} not be baptized at home "without great cause and necessity." This rule is laid down because the decency and solemnity suited to so great a Sacrament can be had better in the church, set apart and arranged for the purpose, than in any private house, and in order that by the public ministration others may be instructed by the service.

Of the Solemnization of Matrimony the Church says, "The persons to be married shall come into the body of the church, or shall be ready in some proper house, with their friends and neighbors." That the church is named first as the proper place shows that it is to be preferred for a marriage. It can be solemnized there in a more seemly and dignified way than elsewhere, and those coming to plight their vows may be more deeply impressed with the solemnity and importance of the step.

In the Office for the Burial of the Dead the church only (or the churchyard) is named as the place. The Church evidently has no thought of any other place as appropriate for the burial of her children. It is the spiritual home of all the baptized. Christian consolations are preeminently there imparted. These considerations, in addition to those of reverence and convenience, mark this as the proper place for the Burial Office.


The consecrated character of the church should have distinct recognition in use and conduct. The building has been thereby "separated from all unhallowed, worldly, and common uses." It is wrong to use it for purposes of amusement or business. It has been given to God. It has been consecrated for religious purposes. It is sacrilege to treat it as a common thing.

It should be recognized also in personal conduct. A prayer should always be said on entering. The manner should be reverent and quiet. All light and useless talk should be restrained.

It should be recognized in conduct in reference to others. As "God's house," all of His children have a rightful place there. This right should be recognized by courtesy to others, especially to strangers and to people in humble station.

Wherever possible, the church should be open every day and all day for private prayer and meditation. Many must of necessity live in crowded dwellings, or in circumstances in which quiet and privacy are hard to obtain. But to all, whatever their circumstances, the open church offers opportunities not afforded at home. Sacred associations and objects greatly aid thought and devotion; and in the quiet church, where there is so much to {16} remind of God and sacred things, and so little of the world and of sin, we can think and pray better than elsewhere. It has been found a very helpful thing in the Christian life to form the habit of stopping in the church, whenever in its neighborhood, for a few moments of prayer, and to use it also as a place of refuge in time of trial and temptation.


Symbolism of the Church Building

"As soon as the early Christians were at liberty to build churches according to their own mind, they took pains to make them significant of their religion. Probably at first the Christians took for the purposes of their worship such buildings as they could get, adapting them to their uses as best they might. But when they grew strong enough and independent enough to build as the heart and imagination dictated, then they showed themselves careful to make their houses of God in shape and dimension suggestive of what they believed." These old builders were Churchmen, and made their Churchmanship and their belief felt in their work. A deep and true symbolism was carried out in the plan and construction of their {18} churches. Thus Christian churches at an early day came to be built in the form of a cross. This was not only the most ornamental form of structure; it was much more: it made the very fabric of the church the symbol of our faith in Christ crucified. Some chancels of old churches were even built with a slight deflection from the line of direction of the nave, thus representing the inclination of our Saviour's head upon the Cross. It made also the gathering together of each congregation of His Church—which is His mystical Body—the symbol of that body itself: that part in the nave representing His body, that in the transepts His outstretched arms, that in the choir His head. And so, also, "the united prayers and praises of the congregation make, as it were, in their very sound the sign of the Cross."

This plan of constructive symbolism affects not only the fabric of the church as a whole, but each separate part of the church has its religious character and meaning.

Let us linger for a moment on the outside. The spire points upward and teaches its lesson of aspiration. "Lift up your hearts," it seems to say, and holds up the Cross as that by which alone we are to be "exalted unto everlasting life." Whenever we {19} lift up our eyes to it, it ought to repeat for us that lesson—rebuke downward thoughts and desires, and point up to spiritual and heavenly things.

In the tower are the bells, and what the spire with its uplifted Cross says to us in silent eloquence these say in sound and music.

The office of the bell in calling to prayer and holy worship was regarded in olden time with much reverence. The use of bells for the purpose of gathering people together in large numbers appears to be of Christian origin. "Large bells hung in a tower seem to have been unknown before A.D. 500. They were first made in Campania in Italy, whence the Italian name campana, a bell, and campanile, a bell-tower. Bells were anciently supposed to have considerable powers, especially against evil spirits. Their use for religious purposes probably originated this belief. The hand-bells of the British apostles, St. Patrick, St. Columba, St. David, etc., are said to have been long preserved, if not existing even now. They are four-sided bronze bells, sometimes of several plates fused into one. St. Patrick is said by an old legend to have dispersed a host of demons, who were too bold to be scared by the mere ringing of the bell, by flinging it into the midst of them.

"Bells in the middle ages were sometimes {20} dedicated to saints. They were christened with all the usual ceremonies and with much pomp; sponsors were provided, the bell was sprinkled at the font, anointed with oil, and robed in a chrisom. Superstitious as these customs would seem now, there is something fine in the simple faith which thus, in those more poetic days, consecrated to God's service the voices which should proclaim Him far and wide over the land." In simpler form, the custom is still frequently observed of setting apart by solemn prayer and benediction the bells which are to call men to prayer or to ring out the praises of God.

Church bells are frequently marked by appropriate inscriptions. The following, for instance, was very common in the middle ages, all these powers being attributed to bells:

"Funera plango, Fulgura trango, Sabbata pango, Excito lentos, Dissipo ventos, Paco cruentos."

"I mourn the dead, I break the lightning, I announce the Sabbath, I excite the slothful, I disperse the winds, I appease the cruel."

As instances of modern inscriptions we have the following: "Bethlehem, Calvary, Bethany." "We welcome the infant to the Font. We invite the {21} youth to Confirmation. We invoke the faithful to the Holy Communion." "Joyful our peal for the bridal; mournful our plaint for the dead."

Let us turn now to the inside of the church and inquire as to the spiritual significance which has become associated with its several parts.

The church is divided into two main portions—the body of the church and the chancel. This represents the whole Catholic Church, divided into those on earth and those who have passed into Paradise. The body of the church, representing those on earth, is divided again into two parts—the nave and transepts. And these have each their special religious associations and suggestiveness.

The Nave.—The nave is that part which extends from the door to the choir. It is the place where the congregation is gathered, in the fellowship of Christ's religion, for the purpose of worship. It is most probably called the nave from the Latin navis, signifying a ship, the same word from which we get our English "navy" and "naval." The ship was the favorite symbol of the Church in primitive times. We have the idea preserved for us in the first prayer in the Offices for Holy Baptism: "Received into the ark of Christ's Church ... may so pass the waves of this troublesome world" as {22} finally to "come to the land of everlasting life." The thought was so much in mind that some old churches were built with the timbers of the roof modeled like the ribs of a ship, and in some cases the walls were made irregular to represent the sides of the ship beaten and pressed upon by the waves. The nave, then, as representing the Church into which God in His love gathers us together in order to bring us in safety through the storms of life to the "land of everlasting life," stands for the idea of fellowship in Christ.

We may come to that same idea in connection with the main body of the church in other ways. Notice how it is made up of several parts, divided, in many churches, by pillars and arches. There is the central part, what is called, strictly speaking, the nave, and the two side parts, called the aisles. Now this threefold division of the main body of the church into nave and aisles may speak to us of the same thing—fellowship. These divisions do not make up three separate churches, but unite in the one church.

So, again, the idea of fellowship may come to us in another way. The special service of the nave is the Litany. This solemn service has been said from very early times from the Litany-desk, placed {23} at the head of the nave, before the entrance to the chancel. "Its position there refers to a Litany, and a place for it to be said, of God's own appointing. 'Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord.' Our Litany, retaining the same words of supplication, is said, in allusion to this, in the midst of the church," the priest taking his place with the people, and, in fellowship of sinfulness and need, leading their supplications.

This truth of fellowship in Christ which the nave suggests, we confess our belief in when we say, "I believe in the holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints." The pictures of the saints of the Old and the New Testament, of the angels who worship Christ our Saviour, and of the men blessed by Him when on earth, which shine for us in the windows, may help to give it reality in our thought. The four main walls of the church, which are supposed to represent the four Evangelists, and the pillars, "which, as the chief supports of the fabric, are said to represent the Apostles, prophets, and martyrs," may remind us also of the holy and glorious fellowship into which we have been brought.

This fellowship in Christ is one of the means which God's love uses for helping and saving men. {24} We are helped by it. We must by it help others. Let us build, it, then, into the daily life, as it is built into the very stones of the church.

The Transepts.—The transepts are the part of the church which gives to the building the cruciform shape. Crossing the nave before the entrance to the chancel, running the one to the north, the other to the south, they complete the outline of the cross. Upon the arms of such a cross our Saviour hung as He died for us.

The transepts may bring us, then, as we remember this, the thought of sacrifice, that our lives to be truly Christian must have the spirit of the Cross worked into them. It was by offering Himself in sacrifice that Christ redeemed us, and it is by offering ourselves to Him in sacrifice, by self-denial for His cause, and by doing good (at some cost to ourselves) to others for His sake, that we make the response He asks to His love. That offering of ourselves must be made not only by our lips in the act of worship, but also by our lives, in deeds.

So, also, the spirit of Christ is the spirit of service, through love, in behalf of others—the spirit of true fellowship. Now we cannot realize that spirit without sacrifice of selfish inclination and desire. We saw that the main body of the church {25} represents that portion of Christ's Church which is on earth, and that the nave suggests the idea of fellowship as the very spirit and law of the Christian life. Now the transepts, making the cross, tell us that fellowship expresses itself truly, that is, after Christ's example, through sacrifice. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." The true Christian life of loving fellowship, after the example of our Saviour who died upon the Cross for us, must get somehow, in self-denial for Christ and self-forgetful work for others, the sign of the Cross worked into it.

The Chancel.—The body of the church, as we have seen, is regarded as representing the "Church militant," that part of the Church which is here on earth and still in conflict. The chancel represents that part of the Church which is made up of those who have passed through death to the state beyond.

The word "chancel" is derived from the Latin word for the lattice-work which formerly parted this portion of the church from the nave. It is the same word from which we get our word "to cancel," that is, to destroy a writing by crossing it out with the pen, which makes something like the figure of a lattice. The lattice was part of the screen {26} (sometimes called the "rood-screen," from the rood or crucifix upon it) which in some churches stood in the arch and divided the chancel from the nave. The screen signified death. Men passed through it from the nave into the chancel, as they must pass through death from the part of the Church which is on earth to the part which is in the world of spirits.

In the chancel itself we have two parts—the choir and the sanctuary.

The Choir.—As its name denotes, the choir is that part appropriated to those who lead the worship. It is cut off by the screen, or chancel arch, from the nave, and is elevated above it by several steps. In the symbolism of the church building it represents that part of the holy Catholic Church which is known as the "Church expectant"—those who have passed through death into the rest and waiting of Paradise.

Let us see what the Prayer-Book says of those who are in Paradise. In the Burial Office we have this prayer: "Almighty God, with whom do live the spirits of those who depart hence in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity; We give Thee hearty thanks for {27} the good examples of all those Thy servants, who, having finished their course in faith, do now rest from their labors. And we beseech Thee, that we, with all those who are departed in the true faith of Thy holy Name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in Thy eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Note how the closing portion reminds us that while the departed "do now rest from their labors," they have not yet received their "perfect consummation and bliss"; that they wait for this till the coming of our Lord and the Resurrection, when it shall be "both in body and soul," "in eternal and everlasting glory." We speak of them, therefore, as composing the "Church expectant."

Now observe what the same prayer tells us of their state while thus resting and waiting in expectation of their perfect consummation and bliss. It says, "The souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity."

This same symbolic meaning for this part of the chancel may come to us in another way, that is, from the services which are conducted from it, Morning and Evening Prayer, which are commonly {28} known, therefore, as the "Choir Offices." These look beyond the choir, which represents the "Church expectant" in Paradise, to the sanctuary, with its Altar, which represents, as we shall see, heaven and the "Church triumphant." The central point of the Church's worship is the great sacrificial act of the oblation of the Holy Eucharist. Upon this the other services of Morning Prayer and the Litany, which precede, and of Evening Prayer, which follows, depend for their significance; the first as preparation for it, and the second as an act of thanksgiving and praise; just as the "felicity" of those in Paradise is a felicity not perfect in itself, but one of anticipation of, and preparation and thankfulness for, the "perfect consummation and bliss" which await them.

And the dominant note of these services is keyed to that same idea. It is a note of "joy." There are indeed strongly marked features of penitence and need. We come before God in our worship as those who are sinful and needy. We ever make approach through the sacrifice of the Cross. But we come also as those who have confidence in divine love and mercy. So praise, joyous praise, predominates. The Te Deum, the Benedicite, the Benedictus, the Jubilate, all ring out this note and give {29} joyousness to the service, while Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis tell of rejoicing and hope in what Christ has brought us by His Incarnation.

It is all a worship of preparation and joy. The choir may remind us, then, by its suggestiveness as related to the other parts of the church, and by the dominant note of joy which rings through its services, how the faithful departed go at death into the "joy and felicity" of Paradise, there to wait, as the "Church expectant," for the Resurrection and their "perfect consummation and bliss", that the "Church expectant" and the "Church militant" are not two Churches, but the one Church of Christ in two places and in two states, on earth and in Paradise, fighting and waiting; that they have still "mystic sweet communion" in praise and worship and prayer—the Church in Paradise leading our worship as the choir leads the worship of the congregation.

So, again, the choir may impress upon our minds how joy has place in the Christian life: that Christianity is not a religion of gloom, but of joy; that if Christ says, "Come, take up the cross, and follow Me," He says also, "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light," because the way of the Cross is the way into true joy.


So we pass through the transepts, which speak to us of self-sacrifice, into the choir, which speaks to us of joy. So long as self is first, the best and truest joy is shut out of our lives; but when self has been crucified, and love is first,—love that delights to serve, and that believes still in the absolute and perfect goodness of God even when the cross is laid upon its shoulders,—then joy comes in, the joy which is a foretaste of that which those in Paradise know, even as that is a foretaste of the perfect joy of heaven.

The Sanctuary.—The chancel, as we have seen, represents in the symbolism of God's house that part of the life of His Church which is reached through death. The choir tells us of the worship and the "joy and felicity" of the "Church expectant." The sanctuary tells us of that for which the Church in Paradise is waiting in expectation. It represents heaven, into whose blessedness the Church shall enter as the "Church triumphant" at the second coming of our Lord.

When we enter a church, the part which is the center of attention is always the sanctuary—the place of the Altar. To this the other parts all lead up. It is the most elevated part, and here the dignity and beauty of the decorations center, just as {31} all our life in the fellowship of Christ's Church here on earth, our cross-bearing, and the worship by which we are prepared and trained on earth and in Paradise, all lead us heavenward.

The sanctuary is made the place of the greatest dignity and beauty, and is most richly decorated, because it is the place of the Altar; and it is through thoughts which come to us from the solemn service of the Holy Eucharist, which is celebrated at the Altar, that this part of the chancel is made the symbol of heaven.

Let us see from Holy Scripture what it is that our Lord, who in His love did so much for us on earth, is still doing for us in heaven. "We have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, ... called of God a high priest after the order of Melchisedec.... Because He continueth ever, He hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." This is finely presented in one of our Eucharistic hymns:

"O Thou, before the world began Ordained a sacrifice for man, And by the eternal Spirit made An offering in the sinner's stead;


Our everlasting Priest art Thou, Pleading Thy death for sinners now.

"Thy offering still continues new Before the righteous Father's view; Thyself the Lamb forever slain, Thy priesthood doth unchanged remain; Thy years, O God, can never fail, Nor Thy blest work within the veil."

Now if we turn to the Office for the Holy Communion, we shall see how the oblation in the Holy Eucharist is linked in with this present work of our "great High Priest" in heaven.

In the Prayer of Consecration we say: "All glory be to Thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that Thou, of Thy tender mercy, didst give Thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by His one oblation of Himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in His holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that His precious death and sacrifice, until His coming again.... Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of Thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we, Thy humble servants, do celebrate {33} and make here before Thy Divine Majesty, with these Thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto Thee, the memorial Thy Son hath commanded us to make." What is done as we thus "celebrate and make before the Divine Majesty," in the commemorative sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, the "memorial" ("in remembrance of Me") of Christ's "precious death and sacrifice," is beautifully and strongly expressed in another of our Eucharistic hymns:

"And now, O Father, mindful of the love That bought us, once for all, on Calvary's tree, And having with us Him that pleads above, We here present, we here spread forth to Thee, That only offering perfect in Thine eyes, The one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.

"Look, Father, look on His anointed face, And only look on us as found in Him; Look not on our misusings of Thy grace, Our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim, For lo! between our sins and their reward, We set the Passion of Thy Son our Lord."

This is one way in which the sanctuary of the church reminds us of heaven—by reminding us of what is done in the heavenly "holy place," and also there.

Then, again, the sanctuary has the same {34} suggestiveness as the place of Communion. To have the communion of the presence and life of God, through Christ, this is the very center of the blessedness of heaven. What it is that we have here on earth in the "Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ" we will let our Lord Himself tell us. "In the night in which He was betrayed, He took Bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise, after supper, He took the Cup; and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of Me."

So before He had said, anticipating this Sacrament of Communion which He thus ordained: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.... Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink {35} indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me."

And so we pray in the Holy Eucharist: "Grant us, ... gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh, of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us."

It all speaks of a foretaste here, in a Sacrament, of what heaven shall give in its fullness.

The sanctuary tells us of heaven in another way.

What the soul that gains its blessedness shall find in it we may put into one small but very sweet word—"peace."

Now the Altar in the sanctuary of the church, with its "perpetual memory" of Christ's "precious death and sacrifice," stands for peace between God and us. The aim and purpose of that sacrifice was to bring about atonement, that is, at-one-ment, the setting at one, at peace. Christ "loved us, and gave Himself for us," and by this sacrifice brought reconciliation between us and God, "having made peace through the blood of His cross."


And so at the close of the Holy Eucharist celebrated in the sanctuary, after the "memorial" has been made before God which His Son "hath commanded us to make," and we have been "partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood," this is the Blessing with which the Church lets us depart—a blessing which carries the thought up to what, in its fullness, waits for us in heaven: "The Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord."

The oblation, the communion, the peace, of the sanctuary, these all tell us thus of heaven and the "Church triumphant."

Of Christ's "mystical body," with its fellowship and cross-bearing on earth, its passage through death to the joy of Paradise, and, waiting beyond, heaven, with its communion and peace through the Cross—it is of this that the church as a building may speak to devout hearts.


Arrangement and Furniture of the Church

A person coming into one of our churches would recognize at once a difference between its interior arrangement and that of many other places of worship. If he thought out the purpose of this arrangement, its adaptation to various forms of divine service and religious uses, he would feel that "here is a place where people are taught to worship the Lord in holy rites, and where forms and spaces and objects are themselves teachers of holy truths."

From the door a broad alley (commonly but improperly called an aisle), running lengthwise of the building, leads to the chancel. It suggests that the approach of the people, for the blessings and {38} consolations which are dispensed there, is made convenient and is invited.

The place of prominence in the furnishing of the church is given to the Altar—a table of stone or wood on which the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated. It is raised several steps above the level of the choir and is railed in. Covering the Altar is an Altar-cloth, embroidered, and varying in color with the seasons of the Christian Year. The portion covering the front of the Altar is called the frontal; that covering the top of the Altar and simply a few inches of the front is called the super-frontal.

Back of the Altar, and raised above it, is a narrow shelf, called the retable, upon which the several ornaments of the Altar are placed. In the center is the Altar-cross, that this holy symbol of our Faith may be constantly before the eyes of all who worship. The vases to hold the flowers with which the Altar is beautified on festal occasions stand at either side of the Cross. The candlesticks, in churches where lights at the Holy Communion are used, stand at the ends of the retable.

Behind the Altar, in many churches, is the reredos—a carved or sculptured screen of wood or stone, frequently extending the whole width of the {39} sanctuary. Sometimes a painting takes its place, or a dossal—a decorated curtain of as rich material as circumstances will allow.

On the south side of the Altar is a small table or shelf, called the credence, on which are placed the elements of bread and wine until such time in the service as they are offered for consecration on the Altar. Here also the alms-basin is placed before the Offertory, and the cruets containing the wine and the water for the ablutions at the close of the service. When the communicants are not too many, a part of the wine from the cruet is poured into the chalice at the proper time; but if a large number are to communicate, the flagon, a large vessel of silver, is used to hold the wine and is placed on the credence.

Nothing should be placed on the Altar itself but the Altar-desk, for holding the book of the Altar-service, and the Altar-vessels. These are usually the paten, or plate for holding the bread at the Celebration, and the chalice, the cup for the wine. There is sometimes a spoon with a perforated bowl to use in case any foreign substance is found in the chalice. If possible these vessels should be of precious metal. They are sometimes adorned with jewels.


A rubric directs that at the time of the Communion the Altar shall be covered with a "fair white linen cloth" ("fair," that is, not only clean, but beautiful). Another "fair linen cloth," commonly called the "linen chalice veil," is also directed to be used for covering the consecrated elements after the communion of the people. To these custom has added other convenient and seemly appointments of linen and silk.

The "chalice veil" is a square of silk, embroidered and often fringed, used to cover the vessels before the consecration.

The "pall" is a square of cardboard covered with linen, used to cover the chalice during the Celebration.

The "corporal" is a square of linen spread upon the Altar at the Celebration, upon which the vessels are placed.

The "purificators" are small napkins of linen for cleansing the vessels after the service.

The "burse" is a square, stiff pocket of silk over cardboard, in which the Altar-linen is carried to and from the Altar.

The color of the chalice veil and the burse follows that of the season. The linen pieces are always white. They are supposed to represent the cloths {41} which were wound around our Lord's sacred body and wrapped about His head at His burial.

You will see the reason for thus making the Altar a place of dignity and beauty, and for these various provisions for reverence in the sacred rite celebrated there, if you will recall what we have already seen of its meaning. We show honor to and reverence the Altar and its worship as the place and the performance of the highest act of divine worship, in which, by the ministry of His Church and according to His own appointment, "a continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ" is "celebrated and made before the Divine Majesty," and as the place where God "vouchsafes to feed us with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ." All is done for His honor.

"'Tis for Thee we bid the frontal Its embroidered wealth unfold; 'Tis for Thee we deck the reredos With the colors and the gold; Thine the floral glow and fragrance, Thine the vesture's fair array, Thine the starry lights that glitter Where Thou dost Thy light display."

The font.—The reverent administration of Holy Baptism, the other of the two great Sacraments {42} ordained by Christ as generally necessary to salvation, is provided for by the presence of the Font. As its name indicates (from the Latin word for a fountain or spring), this is the repository for the pure water which in this holy Sacrament is "sanctified to the mystical washing away of sin." It is generally of fine stone and often richly carved. Sometimes a separate room is marked off from the rest of the church for it and called a baptistery. There should always be, for proper protection, a cover for the Font. A ewer for the water to be used, and a baptismal shell with which to dip from the Font the water poured upon the head of the person baptized, are frequently provided as seemly appointments.

The Font is often, following ancient custom, octagonal in form. The symbolism of this form is this,—that "as the whole creation was completed in seven periods of time, the number next following, eight, may well be significative of the new creation," and, again, that the octave, as a repetition of the first, is a symbol of Christ's resurrection, and therefore of the "death unto sin and new birth unto righteousness" in Holy Baptism.

The Font is usually placed near a door of the church. Its position thus symbolizes the truth that Baptism is the outward form of admission into the {43} Christian Church. It expresses what the child is taught in the Church Catechism to say of Holy Baptism: "wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."

Always in sight, the Font is a constant invitation by its very presence, and shows that the Church is always ready to receive, and desires to receive, new members "into the congregation of Christ's flock."

It should always remind those who have been baptized of the grace of their second birth, when they were made "members of Christ," and of their duty, "being made the children of God, to walk answerably to their Christian calling."

It should call to remembrance that "baptism doth represent unto us our profession; which is, to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto Him; that as He died, and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptized, die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness." That is the main profession or business of a Christian man, and the Font, where Baptism constantly represents our Lord's death and rising again for us, should ever remind us of it and call us afresh to "mortify all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceed in all virtue and godliness of living."


The Lectern.—The lectern, supporting the large Bible from which the Lessons are read, bears witness to the esteem in which our Church holds the Sacred Scriptures. It is worthy of note that our Church makes larger provision for the people "to hear God's most holy Word" than any other religious body in the world. Almost the whole Bible—some parts of it several times—is read publicly every year. Lessons from the Old Testament were read in the service of the synagogue. Our Lord's example shows how properly we follow this ancient custom of reading Scripture lessons in public worship: "As His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias."

The selection of suitable Lessons for each day is a matter of careful arrangement on the part of the Church. There will be found in the front of the Prayer-Book "The Order how the Psalter is Appointed to be Read," and also "The Order how the Best of the Holy Scripture is Appointed to be Read." Four "Tables of Lessons" are given—for Sundays, for Holy-Days, for the forty days of Lent and the Rogation and Ember-Days, and for all the days of the year not otherwise provided for.


Of the two Lessons appointed, one is from the Old, the other from the New Testament. Both are "God's most holy Word," and taking the Lessons from both enables us to see the unity of thought and purpose in the two, and how the promises and predictions of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New.

The most common and, perhaps, the most appropriate lectern is that made in the form of an eagle, standing often upon a globe, bearing the Bible upon its outspread wings. The eagle, because of its lofty heavenward flight, is the symbol of inspiration, and its position upon the globe and its outspread wings remind us how the Word of God is to be carried into all the world.

There are, then, certain thoughts which the lectern should bring us: the reverent honor which "God's most holy Word" should ever receive from us; the privilege of its use as "a lantern unto my feet and a light unto my paths"; our missionary obligations and privileges—to make the outspread wings of the eagle a reality and not merely a symbol.

The Pulpit.—The pulpit suggests the thought of the sacred and important work of the Christian Ministry as preachers of the Word of God.


It is a common thing to hear persons say that they care little for the sermon and speak lightly of preaching. They forget that the preacher is one "sent," that our Lord Himself made preaching one of the great means for the spread of the Gospel and for the salvation of men. And as such persons do not reflect, in this disparagement of preaching, the mind of our Lord, so neither do they represent the estimate of the Church. The Church takes care to provide for it, and that, too, in connection with her most solemn act of worship, the celebration of the Holy Communion. Among the rubrics following the Creed in the Communion Office is this: "Then shall follow the Sermon." So, also, the Church, through the Bishop, demands of the man who comes to be ordained, "Are you determined, out of the Scriptures, to instruct the people committed to your charge?" And when he is ordered a Priest, this is a part of the authority given to him: "Take thou authority to preach the Word of God."

The discharge of this work, to do which the Minister is placed under vow, and for which he is given authority, is one of his most solemn obligations. The pulpit should, then, ever remind us of the loving care on the part of Christ and His Church for {47} our soul's health and our growth in grace, which is thus expressed.

But it should remind us of something else, also,—of a duty on our part.

In "The Form and Manner of Ordering Priests" there is a prayer just before the Benediction, of which this is a part: "Grant that we may have grace to hear and receive what they shall deliver out of Thy most holy Word, or agreeable to the same, as the means of our salvation." And so, again, we pray in the Litany, "That it may please Thee to give to all Thy people increase of grace to hear meekly Thy Word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit." This is the way the Church teaches us to think and to pray concerning our duty and privilege in reference to the instruction and exhortation which divine love sends to us from the pulpit.

The pulpit stands, then, for something God's love does for us: "Preach the gospel." It stands also for something God's love demands from us: "Take heed how ye hear."

The Choir- and Clergy-Stalls.—It will be observed that the stalls for the clergy and choristers are generally placed on the two sides of the choir and face each other. The south side is called the {48} "decani side" and the north the "cantoris side," as being, in cathedrals, the respective sides of the dean and the cantor (or precentor).

By this arrangement proper provision is made for the clergy as leaders of the worship of the congregation and for the choir as leaders of its praise in song. The singing in our churches is intended to be "common praise," and this arrangement of the choristers marks their office as simply to lead it. They do not sing to the congregation; they sing with or for them to Almighty God. The people should sing with them, and not listen merely, as if attending a concert. Even when, as in a Te Deum or anthem, the music is too difficult for the congregation to join in it, the singers are still rendering to God the praises of all present, and all should take part in it in thought and in heart.

Because of this ministry as leaders of praise the choir are vested. Their vestments are the cassock and the cotta—a modification of the surplice worn by the clergy.

Of the Litany-desk we have already learned in the section in reference to the nave.

The Bishop's Chair.—In many churches there is found a "Bishop's Chair." It has been felt as proper, in view of the dignity of the office of the {49} Bishop, to provide a special seat for him, and to have it occupied by no one else. In parish churches it is placed within the sanctuary at the north or "gospel" side of the Altar, facing the people. In cathedrals it is called a "Throne," and its place is just without the rail on the decani side of the choir, facing like the choir-stalls.

Wherever placed, it is a reminder of the highest order in the Christian Ministry, and of the doctrine of Holy Orders our Church holds and acts upon. In the Preface to the Ordinal the Church makes this declaration: "It is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church,—Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.... No man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said Functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination." What the Church here insists upon is what is commonly called the "Apostolic Succession." This rule she rigorously applies. No minister of any of the denominations, no matter how learned and pious he may be, can {50} serve at her Altars until he has been ordained by a Bishop and is therefore commissioned by that Episcopal or Apostolic authority upon which the Church has always insisted.

The Bishop's Chair may remind us, then, of the Bishop's office and authority to ordain and to govern, of its essential importance in the life of the Church, and of how our Church's lineage and the authority of her Ministry are traced, through the succession of Bishops, directly back to the Apostles, and through them to Christ Himself, "the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls."


Symbolic Ornaments of the Church

The use of symbols for conveying and enforcing truth goes back to earliest ages. God said to Noah, "I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth."

The ritual and appointments of the Tabernacle and its worship were an elaborate system of symbolism.

So, also, we find the use of symbolism in Christianity. The need of appealing to the eye as well as to the ear, by visible signs for sacred truths, led the early Christians to employ a number of such symbols as an effective means of imparting instruction. But their use was not wholly a matter of choice. Anxious to seek and to support one another {52} under persecution, they were compelled to find some common signs of recognition which might be known only to themselves, and under which their new Faith might be safely concealed.

The Cross.—The Cross comes first in order. It is the especial emblem of Christianity. "It glitters on the crown of the monarch. It forms the ensign of nations. It crowns alike the loftiest spires of Christendom and the lowliest parish churches. It marks the resting-place of the departed who have died with faith in its efficacy, as it was the sign in Baptism of their admission to the kingdom of the Crucified." It is the symbol of Christ's atonement and of the salvation of men, and represents the Christian Faith, its demands and its triumphs. As might be expected, many fantastic stories were woven about this symbol in the middle ages. Yet back of their extravagance was often a true feeling. We see this even in the absurd legend of the tree from which our Saviour's cross was made.

This legend was as follows: "for four hundred and thirty-two years after his expulsion from Paradise, Adam had tilled the ground in the valley of Hebron, when he felt his end approaching, and determined to send his son Seth to the gates of Paradise to demand from their keeper, 'the angel called {53} Cherubim,' the oil of mercy which had been promised to Adam when he was driven from the garden. Seth accordingly set forth, finding his way by the footprints of Adam and Eve, upon which no grass had grown since they passed from Paradise to Hebron.

"The angel, after hearing the message, ordered Seth to look beyond the gate into the garden and to tell him what he saw. He beheld a place of inexpressible delight and beauty, with the four great rivers proceeding from a fountain in the center; and, rising from the edge of the fountain, an enormous tree, with wide-spreading branches, but without either bark or leaves. He was ordered to look a second time, when he saw a serpent twisted round the tree; and a third time, when the tree had raised itself to heaven, and bore on its summit a Child wrapped in glittering vestments.

"It was this Child, said the angel, who would give to Adam the oil of mercy when the due time should come. Meanwhile the angel gave Seth three seeds from the fruit of the tree of which Adam had eaten. These were to be placed in the mouth of Adam before his burial, and three trees would spring from them—a cedar, a cypress, and a pine. The trees were symbolical of the Holy Trinity."


"It happened as the angel foretold. The trees were hardly a foot above the ground in the days of Abraham. Moses, to whom their true nature was revealed, took them up carefully, carried them with him during the years of wandering in the desert, and then replanted them in a mysterious valley named Comprafort (Comfort?). From Comprafort David was directed to bring them to Jerusalem. He planted them close to a fountain, and within thirty years they had grown together so as to form a single tree of wonderful beauty, under the shade of which David composed his psalms and wept for his sins. In spite of its beauty, Solomon cut it down in order to complete his temple, for which a single beam was wanted, of a size such as no other tree could furnish. But in fitting the beam to its place, it was found, after repeated trials, either too long or too short, and this was accepted as a sign that it was not to be so employed."

It was then, says one version of the story, reverently preserved in the temple. According to another version, when it was found too short or too long "it was flung aside into a certain marsh, where it served as a bridge. But when the Queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and was about to cross the marsh, she {55} saw in a vision how the Saviour of the world was to be suspended on that tree, and so would not walk over it. It was buried in the earth on the spot where the Pool of Bethesda was afterward made, so that it was not only the descent of the angel, but the virtues of the buried wood, which gave to the water its healing qualities. At the time of the passion the wood rose and floated on the surface. The Jews took it to make the cross of our Lord."

More attractive is the legend of how the cross was found, deeply buried in the ground at Jerusalem, by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian emperor. All three crosses were found, according to the story, and that of our Lord was recognized by certain miracles which it wrought on those who touched it.

In representations of the cross we trace two principal forms, the Latin and the Greek cross, from which a great variety, with various significations, have been produced.

The Latin or Passion Cross has the lower limb considerably longer than the other three. "It is doubtless most nearly the shape of the very instrument on which Christ suffered, {56} and is therefore most suitable to symbolize the Atonement and to express suffering." When it is placed on steps it is called a "Calvary cross." The steps are generally three in number, and are said to typify faith, hope, and charity, the great Christian virtues.

When all four arms are of equal length it is a Greek Cross, the cross in most frequent use among Eastern Christians. "The Latin cross suggests the actual form, while the Greek cross is idealized, the Greeks being essentially an artistic and poetic race." "The Greek cross is a symbol of the spread of the Gospel and of its triumphs in the four quarters of the world. It is the usual form wherever it is intended to express victory or is used as an ornament."

Another interesting form of the cross is the Tau-cross, so called because shaped like the Greek letter tau (T). The figure found in the tau-cross was the symbol of eternal life with the ancient Egyptians. The early Christians of Egypt adopted it and at first used it instead of other forms of the cross. It is yet seen in the early Christian sepulchers of that country. "It has been urged, with {57} at least great probability, that this symbol of life was the form made by the children of Israel in blood upon their door-posts when the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt to smite the first-born, and it was perhaps the form of the cross on which the brazen serpent in the wilderness was lifted up."

It is known, from these associations, as the cross of the Old Testament and as the "anticipatory cross"; also as the "cross of St. Anthony," the great hermit of Egypt and the father of monasticism.

It is sometimes called the "cross potent" from its shape, "potent" being an old English word for a crutch. It is then said to signify the Cross as the sure support of all who trust in it.

Four tau-crosses joined foot to foot form a "Jerusalem cross." Such a cross was part of the armorial bearing of the first Christian king of Jerusalem. The four conjoined tau-crosses, forming a Greek cross, are said to be symbolical of the displacement of the Old Testament by the New, the Law by the Gospel.


Many forms of the cross originated in the wars of the Cross, the crusaders in their eastward wanderings engrafting many variations upon the original Greek cross. Many of these heraldic crosses tell some story of religious feeling. In their varied and fanciful forms the simple faith and holy purpose out of which they sprang may yet be traced.

The "cross moline" is so named from resemblance to the moline, or crossed iron, in the center of the upper millstone. Its ends are divided and curved backward. As they are turned in all directions, they are said to express the universal diffusion of the blessings of the Cross; or, as they decline both to the right and the left, they express willingness to do exact justice and give to all their due.

The "cross recercele" resembles the cross moline, but with its floriations more expanded.


The "cross bottone" (budded) or "trefle" (like trefoil), the "cross patonce" (like the paw of the ounce, or panther), and the "cross flory" (like the fleur-de-lis), all with limbs ending in threefold figures, have evident reference to the Holy Trinity.

The "cross pommee" has ends terminating in circles suggestive of apples, as the name shows. It is said to express the fruitful reward of devotion to the Cross.


The "cross crosslet" is formed of four Latin or Passion crosses placed foot to foot.

It is said that the "cross fitche" (sharpened and so fixable in the ground) was carried in pilgrimages so that it might be readily set up while performing devotions.

The "cross patte" (broad-footed) is much like the "Maltese cross," the cross of Knights Templars and Hospitalers, which differs from it simply in having its extremities indented or notched. The eight points thus formed are said to symbolize the eight Beatitudes of our Lord.

The "floriated cross," which is developed in many ornamental forms, as the cross bursting into bloom or adorned with garlands, alludes to the triumph of Christ and to our future triumph and glory through Him. It symbolizes also our holy religion growing with perpetual vitality.

One of the most singular, as well as most ancient, of the many forms and modifications of the cross is the "fylfot." It is found, probably as a disguised form of the cross, on the tombs in the catacombs. {61} Its use illustrates the adoption by the early Christians, as in the case of the tau-cross, of prechristian symbols. By its employment they simply "diverted to their own purpose a symbol centuries older than the Christian era, a symbol of early Aryan origin, found in Indian and Chinese art, and spreading westward, long before the dawn of Christianity, to Greece and Asia. It was on the terra-cotta objects dug up by Dr. Schliemann at Troy, and conjectured to date from 1000 to 1500 B.C." It is thought to represent in heathen use a revolving wheel, the symbol of the great sun-god, or to stand for the lightning wielded by the omnipotent deity, Manu, Thor, or Zeus. The Christians saw in it a cross concealed from the eyes of their heathen enemies. The fylfot is frequently found in the Greek Church on the vestments of the clergy. The Greek fret or key pattern, with which all are familiar, is a decorative development of the fylfot.

Another interesting form of the cross is that known as the "cross of Iona" or "Irish cross." It is said to be the earliest form known in {62} Great Britain and Ireland. The antique wayside crosses are of this shape. "Because this style of cross partakes more of Greek character than of Latin, it has been contended that it argues an Eastern rather than Western origin for the introduction of Christianity into Great Britain." The circle is the emblem of eternity, as having neither beginning nor end, and when combined with the cross, as in this form, it speaks of the perpetuity of the Christian faith and the eternity of its hope.

The "St. Andrew's cross," in form like the letter X, conveys the idea of humility as well as that of suffering. When St. Andrew was condemned to be crucified, he begged that his cross might be unlike that on which his Lord had died, not deeming himself worthy to die on a cross of the same form as that on which He had suffered.

There is a cross peculiar in form, and known as the "Canterbury cross." It is in the shape of the letter Y, and is usually seen only upon the vestments of the clergy. The ornamentation of the chasuble is commonly of this form. It is embroidered on the chasuble of St. Thomas of Canterbury, which is still preserved in the Cathedral {63} of Sens, in France. Its shape brings to mind the inclination of our Saviour's arms—the lifting up of His hands—as He offered Himself in sacrifice on Calvary.

Symbols of the Holy Trinity.—The equilateral Triangle is perhaps the most familiar emblem of the Holy Trinity. The equality of the three divine Persons in the Godhead is represented by the equal sides or the equal angles of the triangle.

The Trefoil is also an emblem of the Trinity. It is a representation of the common clover, or shamrock, as the Irish call it. The legend of the conversion of Ireland says that St. Patrick was preaching on the hillside, and wishing to illustrate from nature the sublime doctrine of the Trinity to his pagan hearers, he bent down and plucked a piece of shamrock at his feet, and held it up to show how what was three, in one sense, might be one in another.

The unity of the Persons in the one Godhead is sometimes represented by intersected triangles, or by the trefoil placed under a triangle.

The truth of the Trinity is also suggested by any {64} threefold arrangement in the various forms of the ornamentation.

The figure known as the triquetra, made by the interlacing of three portions of circles, is also symbolical of the Holy Trinity. This is a very ancient emblem, and is found with frequency upon the stone crosses erected in the early days of Christianity in Great Britain. It is sometimes used in ornamentation of the dress of our Lord or of the Evangelists.

From the thirteenth century we have the symbol of the equal and interlacing Circles. "The three equal circles symbolize the equality of the three Persons in the Trinity, the binding together in one figure the essential unity, while the circular form signifies a never-beginning, never-ending eternity." The word trinitas, used in this symbol, may itself {65} be divided into three syllables. One of these syllables is placed in each circle; but they have no perfect meaning, and will not form any word, unless united. In the space left vacant by the intersection of the circles the word unitas is placed.

From the sixteenth century we have another device setting forth the doctrine of the Trinity. This is a triangle terminating at the corners in three circles, and in the center another circle with lines connecting it with the circles at the corners. A legend is combined with the figure, which serves to explain it. The English equivalent of the Latin words is as follows: Deus, God; Pater, the Father; {66} Filius, the Son; Sanctus Spiritus, the Holy Ghost; est, is; non est, is not.

Symbols of the father Almighty.—For the first four centuries the only symbol employed to represent God the Father Almighty was a hand issuing from clouds, or reaching down in benediction from heaven.

A symbol of much later origin is a triangle with the word "Jehovah," in Hebrew letters, inscribed within it and placed in the center of a radiating circle, or halo, symbolic of eternity.

Symbols of our Lord.—While the cross was in {67} constant use by the early Christians, no effort was made at direct representation of our Saviour's sufferings. The crucifix was not introduced until five centuries had passed. Resort was had instead to the use of symbols.


Several of these were derived from Holy Scripture. The most common was the figure of the Good Shepherd, a picture drawn from our Lord's own description of His loving care and self-sacrifice. Another was derived from the words of St. John the Baptist, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" By this symbol, known as the Agnus Dei, our Lord is represented by the figure of a lamb—often with a nimbus, or glory, about the head—bearing a cross, the symbol of His sacrifice, or a banner, the sign of His triumph.


The Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, are used as the emblem of the eternity of our Lord: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

The Star is a symbol of Christ. It owes its origin to His own words, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." It was by the leading of a star that God manifested His only begotten Son to the Gentiles. The five-pointed star commonly represents the star of Bethlehem. It is a Christmas and Epiphany emblem.

This star is sometimes called the "pentalpha," as the crossing of its lines suggests five A's. It was used in ancient times as a magic talisman against the powers of witchcraft. The Greek Christians at one time placed it, instead of the cross, at the beginning of inscriptions.

The six-pointed star is said to symbolize the Creator, as, according to the old alchemists, the double triangle of which it is composed represents the elements of fire and water.


The seven-pointed star has reference, it is said, to St. John's words in the Revelation: "I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."

A star of nine points has allusion to St. Paul's enumeration of the fruits of the Holy Spirit: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."

An interesting symbol of our Saviour is that of the Pelican, which, the old naturalists said, was accustomed to tear open its breast in order to feed its young with its own blood. So the blood shed on Calvary gives life to the Church.

The fish was also a very early symbol of our Lord. It was observed that the five letters of the Greek word for a fish were, taken separately, the initials in Greek of the words "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." In this way the fish became a symbol of our Saviour.

The pointed oval, or vesica, is the conventionalized form of the fish. Ecclesiastical seals are commonly made in this form. It represents {71} in rude outline a fish before the fins and tail are added.

It is thought by some that the Gothic or pointed arch is derived from this symbol, being simply the upper half of a vesica.

Other symbols of our Lord are formed from monograms of the sacred name, Jesus, and of His official title, Christ. These are used separately and also together. The earliest form of monogram of the sacred name, that often found on tombs of early Christians, is the symbol which is said to have appeared in a vision to the Emperor Constantine.

The story is related by Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea, who asserts that it was communicated to him by Constantine himself, who confirmed it with an oath. The story is this: Constantine, whose mind was wavering between Christianity and paganism, was on the eve of a great battle. Knowing that Maxentius, his enemy, was seeking the aid of magic and supernatural rites, and remembering also that his father, who had been well disposed to the Christians, had always prospered, while their persecutors failed, he determined to pray to Christ. While engaged with such thoughts he saw at mid-day a luminous figure in the heavens, with the words, "By this conquer." Both he and the whole army were struck with awe at the sight. At night {72} Christ appeared to him in a dream, holding in His hand the same symbol, which He admonished him to place upon his standard, and assuring him of victory. This symbol Constantine substituted the next day for the old Roman eagle upon the standards and shields of his legions.

What the emperor saw, or fancied he saw, for it cannot be doubted that Constantine believed what he stated, was a symbol already in use among the Christians, and whose meaning he doubtless already knew. It is formed of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, CHRISTOS (Christos); the X (Chi) being equivalent to our Ch, and the P (Rho) the same as our R.

Sometimes the monogram is contracted and its lines economized, the X becoming a true cross, and its vertical shaft—the curved part of the letter being added—becoming P.

This monogram, with the Latin N, standing for the word noster (our), added to it, means Christos noster (our Christ).

Another monogram for our Lord's title, Christ, is composed of the first two and the last capital {73} letters of the Greek word CHRISTOS. The horizontal mark over the top is the sign that some letters have been omitted.

The more familiar monogram IHS (IHS) is the abbreviated form of the Greek word for our Saviour's human name, Jesus, IESOUS. The first two and the last letters are those used. Sometimes this is written "IHC." The two forms are synonymous, the C being simply another form of the Greek S. Sometimes the letters are intertwined, the I being lengthened and formed into a cross by a bar at the top.

These three letters are often read as signifying the Latin words, Jesus hominum Salvator, that is, "Jesus the Saviour of men"; but appropriate and beautiful as this reading is, it is not the original meaning, but an afterthought, and is said to have been first suggested about the year 1380.

Another monogram contains the initial letters, IX, of our Lord's full name, Jesus Christ, in Greek. The X (Chi) is combined with the I (Iota). Sometimes a horizontal bar is placed through the middle {74} of the figure, thus giving the initials of our Lord's full name, united with the cross.

Another form of monogram for our Lord's full name, Jesus Christ, is made by taking the first and the last letters of each of the Greek words. The lines above are the signs of contraction.

I. N. R. I. These letters stand for the Latin form of the title placed on our Saviour's cross, Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Symbols of the Holy Ghost.—The seven-branched Candlestick of the tabernacle, and the Seven Burning Lamps which St. John saw before {75} the throne of God, and which he declares to be the seven Spirits of God, that is, the Holy Spirit in His sevenfold manifestations of grace, are often used as symbols of the Holy Spirit, the source of all true illumination for men.

The most familiar emblem, however, is the Dove, which from the early centuries to the present day has constantly symbolized the third Person of the Holy Trinity. Its warrant and justification are based on the account in the Gospel of our Lord's baptism and the descent upon Him of the Spirit "in bodily shape like a dove."

The picture of the holy dove in the decorations of the church tells of the coming of the same Spirit as the fruit of the intercession of our ascended Lord and according to His most true promise, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may {76} abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth." It reminds of that abiding presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church, making it the "habitation of God through the Spirit," and giving living power to its sacraments as channels of saving and sanctifying grace.

Other symbols in frequent use are the following:

The Crown of Thorns and the Nails of crucifixion are symbols of our Saviour's passion.

The three Interlaced fishes and the Escallop Shell, the badge of a pilgrim, are both emblems of Holy Baptism: the one, as Baptism is in the Name {77} of the Holy Trinity; the other, as we therein confess that we are pilgrims and strangers on earth, who seek "a better country, that is, an heavenly."

The phoenix is the symbol of immortality and the resurrection. The phoenix was a fabulous bird of the ancients. It was believed that, "after living a thousand years or so, it committed itself to the flames that burst, at the fanning of its wings, from the funeral pyre of costly spices which it had itself constructed, and that from its ashes a new phoenix arose to life."

The Anchor is the symbol of steadfastness and hope. "A strong consolation,... which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast."

The Crown is the symbol of victory and sovereignty.

The Wreath, commonly of laurel, is another symbol of victory. As an expression of triumph won, it is one of the commonest of symbols in the catacombs—the underground and secret burying-places of the early Christians in times of persecution.


In this connection we may note the symbolism attached to certain plants and flowers. In the ornamentation of God's house we reproduce, as far as the art of man can, the forms and colors with which the love of God has arrayed the earth with so much beauty. We also use the natural plant and flower to beautify the church on the great Christian days of gladness and rejoicing. They mark such days as festival days. In a special way they tell at Easter, by their fresh, pure life out of the death of winter, the story of the resurrection.

But, besides this, an emblematic meaning is also attached to particular flowers and plants. The use by the early Christians of plants and flowers in an emblematic way was simply a matter of reverent memory and the carrying over of past associations. Their remembrance of the words of the Lord Jesus would make the Vine, His own similitude of Himself in relation to them,—"I am the vine, ye are the branches,"—a symbol of frequent use to represent the Saviour.

The Wheat and the Grapes would not only be {79} the emblems of abundance and rejoicing, but would be enriched with suggestions of the Holy Eucharist.

The Olive-branch, borne by the dove, recalling the story of the flood, would stand for the thought of security and peace.

The Almond, with name derived from a word meaning haste, in allusion to its hasty growth and early maturity, was the symbol of hopefulness even in the days of Jeremiah. "The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond-tree. Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten My word to perform it."

The Palm is the emblem of victory. This symbolism attached to it not only from the familiar associations of its pagan use as such, but from a very early period, as seen on ancient mosaics, a reference to the palm was recognized in St. John's description of the Tree of Life, "which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month." "Thus the palm-branch of Christian martyrs was not only the emblem of victory adopted from the well-known heathen use of it, but typified still more {80} strikingly their connection with the tree of divine life, 'whose leaves were for the healing of the nations.'"

The palm, however, was not the only instance of such adoption into Christian symbolism from pagan use. The influence of Christianity was felt in many like cases. Trees and plants held sacred to heathen gods became associated with holier names and ideas.

Thus the Laurel, "the meed of mighty conquerors and poets sage," became for the humble Christian who had "fought a good fight, and finished his course," the emblem of triumph and glory.

The Pomegranate, with mystic association from remote antiquity with the idea of life, became the symbol of a hopeful future, the emblem of immortality.

The Oak is the representative of supernatural strength and power. In pagan antiquity it was especially dedicated in the West to Thor, the thunder-god. The familiar story of St. Boniface, the apostle of Germany, relates how he found in the country of the Hessians an enormous tree, called the Oak of Thor, greatly revered by the people and held inviolably sacred. St. Boniface cut it down in token of the triumph of Christ. When it fell with a mighty crash, and Thor gave no sign, the {81} heathen folk, who stood about in awe, accepted the token and were converted. The stroke of St. Boniface's ax overthrew Thor, but could not altogether destroy the associations of the ancient belief. The reverence for the oak long survived; and the veneration for it, Christianized in meaning, led to its reproduction, with symbolic reference to the power of the God of gods, in many beautiful forms of leaf and spray and clustered acorn, in church decoration.

In like manner, we find flowers held sacred to heathen goddesses lifted out of that association and invested with higher and purer emblematic meaning.

The Lily, the flower of Juno, became the flower of the holy Virgin, and its snowy whiteness the symbol of Christian purity. It is often seen in the conventional form of the fleur-de-lis.

The Rose before the coming of Christianity was a mystic flower among Northern races. Among the Greeks and Romans it was the flower of Venus and the symbol of earthly love. Its symbolism felt also the redeeming touch of Christian sentiment. The love of which it is the emblem became not an earthly, but a heavenly love. As the lily tells of her purity, so the rose tells of the love that was in the heart of the Blessed Virgin. But this was but the reflection {82} of a higher and a divine love, of which the rose was also the symbol.

How that thought of the love of heaven coming down to earth was expressed emblematically by the rose, we may see in the story of its origin which the Christian fancy of the middle ages invented. It was said that a holy maiden of Bethlehem, "blamed with wrong and slandered, was doomed to the death; and as the fire began to burn about her she made her prayers to our Lord that, as she was not guilty of that sin, He would help her and make it to be known to all men, of His merciful grace. And when she had thus said, anon was the fire quenched and out, and the brands that were burning became red roseries, and the brands that were not kindled became white roseries, full of roses. And these were the first roseries and roses, both white and red, that ever any man saw."

So the rose became the flower of martyrs, the presage of the beauty and joy of Paradise. With the same thought, the early Christians decorated with roses the graves of martyrs and confessors on the anniversary of their death. It has been conjectured that it is from this connection of the rose with Paradise, and with the thought of the love which accomplished our salvation, that the rite of {83} the "golden rose" has been derived—the rite in which the Pope, on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, blesses a golden rose adorned with jewels, which he afterward bestows upon some person he desires especially to honor. In the prayers which are used in this rite, our Lord is alluded to as the "eternal Rose that has gladdened the heart of the world."

The interesting plant known as the Passion-flower, although of comparatively modern origin, is now freely used to symbolize the passion of our Lord. The ten faithful apostles,—omitting St. Peter who denied and Judas who betrayed our Lord,—the hammer and the nails, the cross, the five sacred wounds, the crown of thorns, the cords which bound Him, are all, by an exaggerated symbolism and straining after analogy, supposed to be represented by its various parts. It was discovered by early Spanish settlers in America, and was welcomed by them as useful in teaching Christianity to the Indians. It is the one contribution of the new continent to the ecclesiastical symbolism of flowers.

Symbols of the Evangelists and Apostles.—The Evangelists are often represented by four scrolls, four open books, or four streams of water issuing from Christ the Rock; but most commonly the Evangelistic symbols are the Man, the Lion, the {84} Ox, and the Eagle. These figures refer to the mysterious creatures described by the prophet Ezekiel, and afterward by St. John, as adoring ceaselessly before the throne of God. "They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." The man is assigned to St. Matthew and his Gospel, because of the manner in which the manhood of our Lord is set forth, the lion to St. Mark, because he shows {85} His royal dignity and power; the ox to St. Luke, because his is the sacrificial Gospel and dwells on the Atonement; and the eagle to St. John, because his Gospel rises to the contemplation of the sublimest mysteries of the Christian faith.

All these symbols are winged, as showing that the message of the Gospels is to go to all the earth as the concern of all men everywhere.

All four symbols are sometimes combined into one, called a Tetramorph.

Each Apostle has also his own appropriate symbol.

St. James the Greater has the escallop shell and staff of the pilgrim. His shrine in Spain was one of the great centers to which pilgrims came from all lands.

St. John, as an Apostle, has a cup with a winged serpent rising from it, in reference to the tradition {86} that St. John once drank with impunity from a poisoned chalice after having made the sign of the Cross over it.

St. Thomas bears the spear with which he was slain, or the carpenter's rule, from a legend that he was sent to the king of the Indies to build him a palace. St. Thomas gave to the poor the money intrusted to him by the king. He was cast into prison, but the king had a vision of a marvelous palace in Paradise built for him by the money given in charity. St. Thomas was released, and the king became a Christian.

St. Peter has the keys, in reference to our Lord's words to him, and to his opening of the door of the Church to Jews and to Gentiles.

St. Matthew, as an Apostle, has sometimes a purse, in allusion to his having been a publican, or tax-gatherer, and sometimes the hatchet with which he was killed.

The other Apostles have, for symbols, the traditional instruments of their martyrdom: St. Andrew bears the cross peculiar to him; St. Bartholomew the knife with which he was flayed alive; St. James the Less has the fuller's club with which he was beaten to death; St. Philip has the cross on which he was crucified, St. Matthias bears a battle-ax: {87} St. Jade a halberd, or a knotted club, sometimes fashioned like a cross, with which he was slain; St. Simon the saw with which he was cut asunder.

The symbol of St. Paul is the sword with which he was beheaded, and a closed book, in reference to his Epistles. St. Stephen, the first martyr, bears the stones with which he was killed while he prayed for those who hurled them.

Of Angelic figures.—It is not surprising, in view of the references of Holy Scripture, that representations of angels should have place in the decoration of Christian churches. "The religion of heaven is Christianity." "I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and {88} thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."

Angels are included in the Communion of Saints. "Ye are come ... unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven."

It is the constant tradition of the Church that the holy angels attend at Christian worship. It is one of the highest privileges of that worship that we have such communion with them as to be able to say, "Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen."

The Symbolism of Colors.—In the ornamentation of vestments and of the hangings of the Altar, as also in the general decoration of churches, all colors are employed as good taste may dictate. They are thus properly used "for the glory of God, who created the many hues of nature and gave to man the power of deriving pleasure from them." {89} Certain colors, however, are known as "liturgical" or "ecclesiastical" colors, and are, in accordance with ancient practice, employed for symbolical purposes about the Altar and chancel of our churches, or the dress of Ministers, during the different seasons of the Church Year. They serve to impress upon our minds, through the outward senses, certain great truths of the Gospel, and give honor and dignity to the celebration of its sacred mysteries.

The colors most commonly used are white, red, violet, black, and green.

White, signifying purity and joy, is used on the Feasts of the great mysteries of our Faith and at all seasons relating to our Lord, on days relating to the Blessed Virgin and to those saints who were not also martyrs, and on festival occasions, such as Confirmations, Ordinations, Dedications, Weddings, etc.

Red, the emblem of blood and fire, is used on the Feasts of martyrs, typifying the blood which was shed for Christ, and at Whitsuntide, when it tells of the tongues of fire which came upon the Apostles.

Violet, the emblem of penitence, is used in Advent, in the season from Septuagesima to Lent, in Lent, and also on Ember and Rogation days.


Black signifies mourning, and is used on Good Friday and at Burials.

Green, the ordinary color of nature, is used on all days which are not Feasts or Fasts and when no special truth or doctrine is to be emphasized.

The Symbolism of Lights.—The symbolic use of lights in divine worship seems to have been handed on from the Jewish Temple to the Christian Church. The candles upon the Altar, as in use in many churches, whether the two Eucharistic lights or the vesper lights, not only give beauty and festival character to the service, but are an expressive sign of spiritual gladness and joy, and a symbol, suggested by His own words, of Christ as the true "light of the world." They remind us of the gladness and spiritual illumination which the Gospel brings.

The Symbolism of Incense.—Where incense is employed as an adjunct of worship, its symbolism is the same as that which it had in the worship of the Temple. It is the symbol of prayer, of the intercession of our great High Priest, and of the prayers of the saints. So the Psalmist prays, "Let my prayer be set forth in Thy sight as the incense"; and so again, St. John, describing the ceremonial of the worship of heaven as seen in his vision, says, {91} "Another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."


How to Use the Prayer-Book[1]

Before the Service.—If possible be in your place a few moments before the appointed hour, that you may collect your thoughts and prepare for the service. On entering, go at once quietly to your seat, kneel down, and say a short prayer for yourself and your fellow-worshipers. The Collect for the Nineteenth or the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, or the Collect, "Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open," at the beginning of the Communion Office, you may find appropriate. When you have said your prayer, find the places for the service for the day, and after this occupy the {93} time till the service begins with reading some portion from the Prayer-Book.

At Morning Prayer.—The following points should have attention:

(1) The several ways in which, after the opening Sentence, the Minister may proceed with the service. See the rubrics at the beginning of MORNING PRAYER.

(2) In the LORD'S PRAYER (as is also the case with other prayers printed in like manner) the capital letters beginning the several short clauses are intended to indicate the portions into which the prayer is to be broken for common recitation. There should be a slight pause after each clause, that all may join in saying the prayer.

(3) On the nineteenth day of the month the Venite is not used before the PSALTER, as it occurs in the portion for that day. It is omitted on Easter Day and Thanksgiving Day, as other anthems are appointed for these days (pages 6, 125, 319).

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