There are special terms for the clothes worn
by the clergy and others when they are working or 'on duty'. Clericals
are not liturgical vestments or choir dress, but the distinctive every
day street clothes that clergy wear. They are only worn by clergy and
makes it evident that they are clergy. Clericals are different from
vestments in that they are not worn just for services. Sometimes the
clericals are worn under vestments. Clerical clothing generally consists
of a clerical collar, clergy shirt, and, on some occasions, a cassock
and are also known as clerical clothing.
Clergy Shirt and Collar
and dog collar
A clergy shirt is a clerical, not a vestment, and is traditionally a
black shirt with white tabs or a white collar. It is of Protestant origin
but in modern times, many Christian clergy have adopted its use. Round
their necks the priest wears a white detachable collar, also a clerical,
nicknamed the dog collar. It is worn with the clergy shirt as shown
in the picture on the right. The dog collar is a circular collar that
goes completely around the neck with or without a black raised collar
outside. It was originally made out of cotton or linen but is now frequently
made out of plastic. The collar has no particular religious meaning,
it just indentifies the person wearing it as a member of the clergy.
A cassock is a clerical, not a vestment and is worn underneath the vestments,
namely the surplice, a type of alb, and the stole. The word cassock
comes from the French casaque
a long coat. A cassock is a long-sleeved, hoodless, plain black garment
made of lightweight material. It is usually ankle-length and fastens
up to the neck. Cassocks are worn by both clergy and lay worship leaders,
with or without a surplice. They are worn with a cincture, a cloth sash,
or a simple rope girdle or leather belt. Bishops wear purple cassocks.
St. James's choir members wear blue cassocks and the servers wear red
cassocks both being worn with white surplices. Nowadays the cassock
is not worn much apart from religious services, as it has been replaced
by a conventional suit, distinguished from lay dress by being black
and by incorporating a clerical collar.
are worn only by clergy
when they are taking services and they are worn over everyday clothes
or clericals (see above). They are often festive and the colours vary
according to the liturgical season: white or gold during Christmas,
Epiphany, Easter and for major Saints Days; red at Pentecost and principal
feast days for martyrs, and days which emphasise the cross of Jesus;
purple during Advent and Lent; green when there are no festivals or
special days like Saints Days. See the page Colours
of the Christian Year
Vestments include the alb, amice, chasuble,
and surplice and date back to the first century. Sometimes the vestments,
particularly the stole, will have a cross on them which the clergy kiss
before putting it on.
Surplice and Preaching Scarf
A surplice, a type of alb, is a liturgical vestment which is worn over
the cassock. The word surplice comes from the Latin super
meaning over and pellis
fur. It is a loose tunic of white cotton or linen material with wide
sleeves and reaches to the knees or ankles. It is worn by choir members
and by priests who are in official attendance, but not actually leading
. Anglicans call the Roman-style
surplice a cotta which comes from a Italian term cotta
meaning cut-off, as it is derived from the cut-off alb.
Over the surplice the priest wears a long black scarf called a tippet
but it is normally simply referred to as a preaching scarf. It is worn
for the Daily Offices of Morning Prayer and Evensong. It hangs straight
down the front of the surplice and is normally worn with an academic
hood which goes around the shoulders and hangs down the back. The preaching
scarf is different from the stole which is only worn at the eucharist
and other sacramental services. Also the scarf is always black whereas
the stole is a vestment in colours that change according to the liturgical
For Holy Communion the priest wears an alb instead of the surplice over
the cassock. This is the oldest liturgical vestment and is a plain,
white, lightweight tunic with long sleeves, coming down to the ankles.
The word alb is short for the Latin tunica
alba, meaning white tunic. Laypersons,
like our servers, also wear an alb over their red cassocks at communion.
An amice is a liturgical vestment and
is a white cloth with two long ribbon attachments to fasten around the
shoulders of the priest.
It is only required nowadays if the
alb does not cover the priest's ordinary clothing. However some priests
choose to wear it to prevent damage to their other vestments.
A girdle, a cloth sash or cicture, is a liturgical vestment, worn going
right round the body, around or above the waist, outside the alb. It
is a long, rope-like cord with tassled ends
and is usually white.
Priests usually tie the girdle in a the knot in front of them and tuck
the loose ends through the girdle at each side.
Over the alb the priest wears a long, narrow
scarf-like cloth called a stole, a liturgical
vestment, draped around the neck. Only ordained clergy can wear
a stole. Deacons wear the stole over the left shoulder tied at the waist
on the right side, so that the stole drapes diagonally across the chest.
A stole can be worn over a robe, an alb, or a cassock and it is generally
tucked into the girdle. The stole can be one
of four colours depending on the time in the Christian Year. See
the page Colours of the Church Year.
A chasuble is the outermost liturgical vestment worn by the celebrant
for the celebration of the Eucharist, on top of the alb, and always
worn with a stole. The name comes from the Latin casula
or little house. It is a circular garment with a hole in the center
for the head. When worn, it reaches to the wearer’s wrists, so
that if the wearer holds both arms straight out, the chasuble forms
a semi-circle when viewed from the front or the back. It can be simple
or ornate. The chasuble can be one of
four colours depending on the time in the Christian Year. See
the page Colours of the Church Year.
The chasuble can be plain (above) or decorated (below):