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Preacher’s vesture at eucharist

31 July 2015

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.


Your answers


What is the correct vesture when preaching but not presiding at mass? Some churches I have been invited to ask for alb and stole, others for cotta and stole, and sometimes a cope is thrown in for good measure. Which is correct?


Unfortunately, Canon B8 (“Of vesture of ordained and authorized ministers . . .”) fails to deal explicitly with the question of the preacher’s vesture at mass, but otherwise para. 3 provides reliable guidance to Anglican custom. Reference is made to epistoler and gospeller, for whom it is prescribed that they “may wear surplice [otherwise cotta] or Alb, to which other customary vestments may be added”.

By analogy, therefore, it would be reasonable to maintain that, when preaching at mass, the preacher, whether or not liturgical epistoler or gospeller, should be similarly attired. The additional “customary vestments” that would be correctly worn by the preacher may be a stole, and could include a dalmatic, if also acting as deacon at the mass.

An invitation to wear a cope may be well intentioned and honorific, but it is questionable whether it is suitable dress in the pulpit, or would be considered “customary” within the meaning of vesture relating to assistant ministers at holy communion.


(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire


For visiting clergy, a good principle is to vest in keeping with the tradition of the church being visited.

The Catholic tradition is that preachers at mass, who do not minister at the altar, vest in a surplice or a cotta, and the stole of the appropriate colour. Yet many churches of the “liberal Catholic”

tradition rarely use surplices nowadays, and the alb, even the cassock-alb, has become the standard vesture for everyone.

I have usually found that, when I am requested to wear an alb to preach, the inviting parish is equally happy for me to wear a surplice when asked. My aesthetic prejudice is that surplice and stole looks better than alb without an outer vestment; many would disagree.

There are other traditions in our broad Communion, and it is never “wrong” to wear Anglican choir dress of surplice, tippet, and hood, and especially to do so for matins or evensong. Here at the University of Oxford, there is still a remnant of the tradition of preachers’ wearing a cassock with a preaching or academic gown, which might nowadays be considered extremely conservative low-church attire.


(The Revd) Gareth Hughes
(Chaplain of Hertford College)


Your questions


I have recently heard that the Seventh Sunday after Trinity is sometimes referred to as Sob Sunday. Why is this?

L. L.


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