The Parish Church of St James
St. James's Road, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ (Parish Office 020 8941 6003)
The Parish Church of St James

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Clergy Clothes


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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.

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The clergy shirt and dog collar

Clergy shirt
and dog collar

Clergy Shirt and 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 It was originally made out of cotton or linen but is now frequently made out of plastic.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.

The cassock

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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, meaning 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 Nowadays the cassock is not worn much apart from religious services, as it has been replaced by a conventional suit, distinguished from lay dress by being black and by incorporating a clerical collar.

Vestments 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.

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The surplice and stole over the cassock


The hood

When wearing the black scarf, the priest may also wear a hood

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 meaning 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 Holy Communion. 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 season.

The alb

The amice

The cincture
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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.

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The stole


The chasuble

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):

Green Chasuble

Red Chasuble

White Chasuble

Purple Chasuble

A dalmatic, a liturgical vestment, is a long, wide sleeved tunic, and like many church vestments, derives from the dress of the Eastern Roman Empire. It is worn by a minister exercising the role of 'deacon' at a celebration of the Holy Communion. Like the chasuble, it is an outer vestment and can be one of four colours depending on the time in the Christian Year. See the page Colours of the Church Year. The stole is worn diagonally across the body under the dalmatic.

Green Dalmatic

Red Dalmatic

White Dalmatic

Purple Dalmatic

The cope, seen from the front
The cope, seen from the back
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A cope is a liturgical vestment very long cloak with a hood, open at the front and can be any liturgical colour. The name came from the Latin pluviale meaning rain coat or cappa meaning cape. It can be worn on festal occasions, at any act of worship or during a procession which has a specific liturgical function, for example, Palm Sunday. It is fastened with a band or clasp, called a morse which is often highly ornamented.

The morse

The Morse

Further Information
Contact the The Vicar 020 8979 2069
Associated pages on this website Associated pages on this website:
Clergy Clothes (for youngsters in the Young St. James's section of the website) | Clergy | Colours of the Church Year

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