Twice a year the beautiful rose vestments come out of storage. I often receive requests for rose vestments, and no other color is so hard to supply. In fact, I have never received a set of rose vestments to relocate. There’s always plenty of green, and a fair amount of white vestments . Red and violet are more difficult. Since rose is used only twice a year in Lent and Advent (Laetare and Gaudete Sundays), they remain in storage and in great condition with minimum fading and wear. Some parishes have had their rose vestments for over a century! Conceived as a “refreshment” from the penitential season’s violet or purple, the rose candle and rose hangings and vestments are much-enjoyed by the congregation. Below is a handsome High Solemn Mass set featuring chasuble, tunicle and dalmatic. I am sorry I cannot identify the clergy, the parish is All Saints. Do you have a photo of your rose set to share?
This Sunday, November 21st will mark the Feast of Christ the King, or on some calendars, the Reign of Christ. This is a “white feast” using your very best sacristy frontal of white, gold or silver or perhaps white with a touch of the metallics. This can be a wonderful Sunday for special flowers before the simple greens of Advent will take precedence. Golden yellow and white flowers in shining brass vases are a good choice, with any statues or shrines of Christ embellished especially for this feast. The photo above is the high altar at St. John the Evangelist, Newport. With a central tabernacle, the arrangement is easily accomplished with a plastic window box liner and three bricks of Oasis fitted on the gradine behind the tabernacle with the height of the roses soaring up behind the altar cross. Allow a little extra time Saturday for the team to prepare for this important feast.
*Advent rings should now be at the florist if you are sending out for your Advent wreath. Last year’s Advent candles, if they are still tall enough to use again this year, may be refreshed with a little salad oil on a soft cloth. The shine should return with some buffing. Trim the wicks and clean any debris from the candle burning “well”. It is helpful to use a candle follower on the Advent candle wicks either of brass or glass and keep the wreath positioned out of drafts to ensure even burning.
A few emails have come in this week about decorating for Rose Sunday on the 13th. Rose refers to the color of the hangings and vestments, not the flower- although roses are beautiful, if somewhat expensive this time of year. I like the Advent wreath below, which for Rose Sunday has been embellished slightly with a touch of lavender caspia, purple statice and a few pink blossoms picked into the greens. The inexpensive small shrub roses would be ideal. Since the Rose Sunday decoration will be coming down when Sunday has ended, it is a good idea to have a simple, modest display against the greens some churches use throughout Advent.
A few simple pink roses in a vase of pristine water on the bulletin table at the back of church is a welcoming touch that announces this Sunday of Refreshment. If your church is very large, with a great altar and reredos, you might consider something on a larger scale, in proportion to the worship space which can be seen from the back of church. A custom which I kept at one of my former parishes was to use two very large stone altar urns filled with pink roses in several shades, lavender caspia, and salal greens, which at the end of the services would be dismantled and the roses going to the mothers of the parish or in bud vases to shut-ins or parishioners in the hospital .
Here is a formal altar arrangement of matched silver vases using the purple, blue and pink colors of Advent with pink gerbera daisies as the pink rounds focus, and purple stocks and delphiniums for the spikes. At this time of year, this would be an expensive flower choice. I am a big fan of carnations, which are a bargain just now, and are especially lovely when used as the sole flower in the arrangement, large single heads mixed with multi-headed miniature carnation stems, and silvery eucalyptus for greens and spikes.
Here is an arrangement I did of yellow roses which sets elevated behind a center tabernacle. Several bricks are used which are hidden behind to raise up the arrangement, and a long plastic green window box holds 4 bricks of Oasis foam inside. This arrangement uses 24 long stemmed, large-headed roses and could be very effective done in shades of pink roses for Rose Sunday.
Here is a simple loose asymmetrical arrangement using lilies and freesia (costly at this time of year). Local supermarkets do have some very pretty pink lilies just now, but it is more the shape than the flower type of interest here. This could be done just as nicely with small pink roses, a few larger pink roses, and the baby’s breath or some purple statice. This is one of a pair, with the opposite side reversed on the other side of the cross.
Throughout the coming weeks, do have someone from the altar guild designated to take photographs of your church decorations- how often do we wish we had done this when January rolls around? It is a practical record for future altar guilds and a treasure for the church archives. For those altar guilds having Christmas parties over the next two weeks, be sure to take a group photo and put the names and date on the back. An altar guild photo album will provide so many wonderful memories over the years. And please do send in photos of your Advent and Christmas decorations to share here! (Revdma@aol.com)