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Looks like a dalmatic, probably a tunicle

27 March 2015


Your answers

It is the custom in most C of E cathedrals and some larger parishes for the lay crucifer to wear a dalmatic. As the dalmatic is normally a vestment of an ordained deacon, where did this tradition originate, and is it appropriate?

With reference to the question about a lay crucifer wearing a dalmatic, if he or she is not a deacon, the person is by definition wearing a tunicle. This is the vestment for the subdeacon at high mass; but, as we do not ordain subdeacons in our Church, it is quite in order for the lay crucifer to wear one. In fact, the tunicle is often indistinuishable from the dalmatic, although it sometimes has one less orphrey (a band of embroidery).

The Revd Philip Swindells
Huntingdon, Cambs


Why do many clergy wear a purple stole at funerals? Such a service is not a sacrament. I was always taught to wear a black preaching scarf.

The wearing of a purple stole at funerals, or a stole of another colour, is quite common practice. It is also in keeping with Canon B 8(5).

This states: "At the Occasional Offices the minister shall wear a surplice or alb with scarf or stole."

The canon equally allows the black scarf or tippet. Although similar in shape, the stole is a vestment, whereas the tippet is a proper part of Anglican choir dress.

As a rule of thumb, vestments, such as the stole, are worn in the ministration of sacraments, while choir dress is worn for non-sacramental offices.

Unless holy communion is celebrated as part of the service, funerals are not sacramental. Yet some of the liturgical actions that take place during a funeral might be considered "sacramentals". Since the Second Vatican Council, the wearing of a stole over a cotta by Roman Catholic clergy at public celebration of the offices, and at "para-liturgical" functions, has become common. This is owing to the interpretation of the stole as not just representing sacramental ministry, but also teaching ministry.

Such "preaching stoles" are often more ornamented in design than those that are designed to be worn under a chasuble.

The liturgical colour purple is proper to funerals where black is unavailable (and a black stole is not a black tippet).

Liturgical white is worn for the funeral of a child, and some clergy wear white for all funerals as a sign of hope in the resurrection. As only clergy may wear the stole, Readers must wear their distinctive blue tippet when officiating at funerals. 

Gareth Hughes
Hertford College, Oxford

Your questions

To what extent are clergy authorised to write their own liturgies; and can the Confession ever be considered an optional extra? S. C.

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