Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gaudete Sunday and Liturgical Rose

Having considered the liturgical use of blue yesterday, and being as we are on the verge of Gaudete Sunday, it seemed fitting that we should today put out some of the usual considerations of liturgical rose.

We have examined this topic many times over the course of the years -- considerations which remain accessible within the archives; accordingly, for today I have determined to simply present three particular examples of rose vestments, two of which we have not shown before, and one which we have but in less detail. In each instance, I believe the photos present examples of rose vestments which are quite dignified.

Because there is always such passionate discussion around this particular liturgical colour, my intent is not only to show examples that I think are useful for imitation, but in the same vein, to also briefly identify the particular aspects that make these examples "work" in my own estimation. This might be useful for the considerations of those who are designing or commissioning such vestments in the future. (If you are not interested in that aspect, I hope you simply enjoy seeing the vestments themselves.)

We begin with a gothic revival set.

(Detail of photo by Scott Smith)

(Photo by Scott Smith)

In my own estimation, this particular set's strengths are to be found in the warmth, richness and depth of colour of the rose used -- at least as it comes across within the photos; it might be described as a pale salmon variant of rose. This is further given some interest and variation by the brocade patterns found within the textile. (Flat use of colour is often uninteresting and artificial feeling; beyond that it is also more likely to show forth every imperfection accumulated with age and wear.)

The second aspect that works very well in this set are the particular tones of green and pale gold found within the orphreys. This complements the rose colour used here rather nicely and the pattern and texture found within them adds a layer of visual interest, particularly when set against the organic shapes within the rose textile. (I would note that an equivalent tone of blue (in place of the green) and pale gold also has the potential to work very well in such an instance.)

I would make a final note here that the basic design and proportion of these vestments is very good generally.

* * *

Let us now turn to a baroque variation.

Like the former set, this too has something of a pale salmon character. In this instance, the tone is paler yet and that works particularly well in the instance of a baroque form of vestment. The coloured patterns -- in this case floral -- work particularly well within a baroque context and help to further provide that layer of visual interest through colour and form. These floral patterns could also take other organic forms as well of course.

Complementing the base rose colour, and also the white floral designs, are the trims/galloons which are either silver or very pale gold (what might be called "white gold") in colour -- either would work well in this instance at any rate. This works much better, in my estimation, that than brighter form of "yellow gold" that typically adorns like vestments of other colours, as it tends to clash with rose in a rather unpleasant way.

A rose cope also of the baroque variety shows another fine example of this more pale form of gold:

With regard to this cope generally, I would make note of all the same matters of colour and pattern here as I did for the baroque vestments above, so I won't repeat them.

Evidently all of these are merely personal observations offered as considerations and for what they are worth. Evidently, others will have alternate considerations and these matters are not absolute.

* * *

I feel compelled to make a final comment, both for the sake of those who might find themselves thinking this way, and for the sake of those who are unsure how to respond to this way of thinking.

At times, considerations such as these bring forth a certain subset of people who believe that it is objectionable to ponder these matters -- what they sometimes reduce to being mere "fashion" considerations. Here I would simply make note that vestments are another branch of the sacred arts and we should not be reductionistic and secularize our considerations of them. Their symbolism, their dignity and beauty are equally as pertinent to the matter of the sacred liturgy as the matter of sacred architecture, music, painting or sculpture; they too can be bearers of the sacred, lending to (or, indeed, taking away from) our liturgical worship. We should indeed give them thought then, considering what does and does not lend to the dignity and gravitas of the liturgical rites; the rites in which the Church offers her public worship to God, and where we give our public witness and expression to that divine worship.

REMINDER: Do send in your Gaudete photos this Sunday for a potential follow up on this topic.

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