Historical Use of Chasubles and History of Vestment

As the New Year begins, so too must new Ecclesiastical Projects.  Epiphany will be here in a few short days, and then it is only a few weeks until Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season.

In preparing for Ash Wednesday, the black vestment set was reviewed.  The altar and pulpit hangings are complete, and set awaits the completion of the chalice veil, burse, stole, chasuble and maniple to finish the low mass set. Although it would be wonderful to use the black chasuble on Ash Wednesday, that vestment will be on hold for now.  Since the chasuble has not been used in our church yet, the introduction of an unfamiliar vestment must precede with patient teaching and instruction.  The goal will be to slowly introduce the historical significance and use of the chasuble over the summer months, when fewer people are in attendance, and have it on board full-time in the fall if all goes well, and there is not too much the way of push back.

To aid with the instruction, I have been doing a great deal of research on the historical significance of the chasuble, both with books from my personal library, and with online resources.

For those who may be facing a similar problem with restoring the use of the proper vestments to the office on the Holy Ministry, you might enjoy a few of the online resources. One article that I came across is from The Culture Concept Circle in Australia. The article is well researched and detailed.  It has some wonderful photographs of historical Ecclesiastical Vestments.

The New Liturgical Movement also has several well written articles on the historical use and development of vestments. The also have  wonderful photos and illustrations in their articles.

For those members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who are uncertain about the use of the chasuble, there is a nice article which includes quotes by Professor John T. Pless from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He states:

The question of vestments had to be faced by the Reformers. The Anabaptists and the Reformed rejected vestments as detestable reminders of the papal church. For Luther, vestments belonged within the realm of Christian liberty. […] Article XXIV of the Apology states that the Church of the Augsburg Confession [the Lutheran Church] has not abolished the Mass but celebrates it every Sunday and on other festivals and maintains “traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of lessons, prayers, vestments, etc.” The research of Günther Stiller and Arthur Carl Piepkorn demonstrates that the historic vestments (alb, chasuble, and stole) continued to be used in many places within the Lutheran Church [Germany, Scandinavia, etc.] well into the 18th century. For the most part these vestments were rejected by the proponents of Calvinism, Pietism, and Rationalism. It was under these alien influences that the black gown of the academy [or judges] enters into liturgical usage in the Lutheran Church. [pp.221, 222]

It was years ago, when I was a student at the University of Minnesota, and attended University Lutheran Chapel where the Reverend Pless was pastor. I was first introduced to the use of the chasuble at that same time. I had the honor of making my first chasuble for then Pastor Pless over 25 + years ago, which is also when my love of sewing for the church first took root. Since then, I have seen a slow but steady increase in the number of Pastors within the LC-MS who are restoring the use of the Chasuble as a vestment for the Divine Service.

On a final note for the evening, one photo from the Culture Concept Circle article caught my eye.  Does the Cope from the Victoria and Albert Museum in the photo above look familiar? Although it’s a little off topic for today, the photo showing repairs to such an old and well-known vestment is something interesting and worth sharing.  It’s one thing to make these vestments, and another matter to preserve them for future generations to enjoy. I hope you enjoy reading some of the research articles.

Wishing you success as you begin or complete your Ecclesiastical Sewing Projects in the New Year.

Solo Dei Gloria

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Filed under: Ash Wednesday, Black Vestments, Ecclesiastical Sewing Tagged: Ash Wednesday, Black Vestments, chasuble, Concordia Theological Seminary, Culture Concept Movement, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Lutheraon CHurch-Missouri Synod, New Liturgical Movement, Victoria and Albert Museum


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