The vestments we wear today; albs – the white one, cassock –the black one, the chasuble – a poncho like garment usually colored to match the color of the Church year, the stole that always matches the appropriate color originally had a functional purpose. The stole was a scarf; the layers of vestments we wear today were originally for English and European churches with no heat! Now we wear them in Southern climes summer and winter with or without air conditioning.
The elevation or holding up of the bread and wine came about this way too – at least as the story is told. “The Senior Priest of a cathedral was seen by the three young clergy who were assigned to assist him holding the bread and wine high at a point in the Eucharist – they were there to learn.
Sometime before a congregant had come to see the Senior Priest. He said, ‘The cathedral is so long, and where I sit I can’t see the bread and wine and it is important to my worship life that I see it.’ So the priest agreed to hold it up even higher. Now, after a year or two the young clergy went out to smaller churches. And all three held the bread and wine as high as they could. If asked, all three would say, “God said to!”
Originally, the Sanctus bells alerted the sacristan as to which part of the Mass the priest was celebrating. The sacristan, in turn, would ring the tower bell to alert those who could not come to worship, but were praying on their own. The bells also called those working in the fields. They would hurry to the door of
the church to receive the Sacrament and then return to their work. It was not too long ago, and still a practice in some churches, that the altar was up against the wall. We celebrated facing away from the people. Today with a sense that we, you and I, are all in this together, facing each other around the
altar, the traditional things we used to do aren’t as critical. After all, the candles aren’t really necessary unless the power goes out.
Additionally in the period of history when the priest not only had his back to the congregation and worship was in Latin, the ringing of the bells served to alert the congregation to the moment of consecration.
We are a church of folks who came here to worship out of many Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. The bells are one of many. We will use them on special occasions. Episcopalians we are!
Thought you would like to know.