Altar Guild at Saint Peter's Episcopal Church at Ellicott Mills
Prayer and Worship
Altar Guild is an invitation to prepare and participate in the Worship of God in Christ. Taking a
few moments of silent prayer in the church before beginning the tasks assigned will help us to
remember why we are here and who we are serving: God and God's people. How we set up and
prepare the church for worship is a reverent act that will enable others to become closer to God,
closer to others, and closer to themselves.
Set Up and Preparation
The Altar Guild mainly sets up and prepares the church for Sunday, Worship, Weekday Services,
and Special Services (Feasts and Holy Days, Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms). The preparation for
Sundays is a routine—the same tasks are needed at the same locations in the church each week.
The set up for some special services sometimes requires ―special‖ preparation. The Clergy of the
parish are always available to answer any question you may have. They will also receive
suggestions on how we might better set up and prepare for worship and prayer at Saint Peter's.
Members of the Altar Guild frequently conceive new ideas on how to do or not to do something.
Your suggestions are always welcome.
The Altar Guild at St. Peter‘s works in teams of two and usually each team takes a slightly
different approach in completing the work. As the present Altar Guild Chairperson I am a ―team
of one‖ so below is my solo routine of Sunday service preparation.
When coming to provide altar guild support for the regular Sunday services, expect to be at
church for about an hour.
When you arrive at church take a couple of minutes to center and pray. One prayer that I have
found useful for this purpose is ―Lord, Let everything I do this day come from You and be
inspired by You. Amen.”
Unlock and turn on lights in the sacristy and church.
In the sacristy, gather a cloth or paper towels, a bottle of oil, 1 votive, holy water, sand sieve/pan,
and an 8-day candle in the hall way outside the sanctuary stop at the acolyte closet and pick up a
couple of lighter sticks and a couple of match books found on the left hand side of the closet.
Drop off the 8-day candle in chancel. Proceed to the back of the church.
Both the Blessed Virgin (BVM) and St. Joseph use oil-filled votives with the exception of the
hanging votive for St. Joseph. Check all the votives to learn whether they need oil refill. Replace
the 8-hour hanging votive for St. Joseph. Use the sieve and pan as necessary to filter the match
stubs and other debris from the sand pans. Replace the matchbooks and lighter sticks used at
each statue as necessary.
Check the holy water stoop at entrance to church fill as needed. If the existing water is in any
way contaminated, empty the water down the piscina or outside on to the ground. The stoops are
greatly etched from hard water so it is somewhat difficult to know it is clean. If you touch the
inside of the container with a finger around the inside edge you will know if is clean.
When finished, proceed to the front of the church and fill the holy water stoops at each entrance
to the nave and in the main hallway outside the sanctuary above the table where the bulletins are
In the chancel there are10 oil candles which must be filled. There are 2 at the ambo, two at the
altar and 6 on the reredos. To fill the candles, unscrew the metal top, ideally keeping the wick in
the candle. Squeeze oil from bottle being careful not to overfill. Screw top back on. To reach
the candles on the reredos there are three techniques that can be used-- do what is most
comfortable for you.
1. Take candle in holder down from reredos and place on one of the wooden stools
found in the chancel. Fill the candle and put candle in holder back in place.
2. Take ladder from sacristy, climb up to be at level with candles and fill while the
candles are in place.
3. Take ladder and candle rack from sacristy. Remove all candles from holders, put in
the rack to fill, and replace to holders.
Step out to the acolyte closet and take the Sanctuary Lamp Hook from its hook on the left hand
side if the closet. Hook Sanctuary Lamp Hook to the ring at the bottom of the Sanctuary Lamp
and pull down gently. When the Sanctuary Lamp is fully down it will be accessible by most
people without a step or ladder. If the 8-day candle is still lit take a cloth or paper towel and
grasp the top of the glass holder and lift it out of the Sanctuary Lamp. Take new 8-Day candle
and light from old 8-Day candle put new candle in Sanctuary Lamp and push back up using the
hook. Remove hook from ring and put the hook back in acolyte closet.
After finishing with the candles and holy water in the church stop at the acolyte closet and put
back any unused matches or lighter sticks and fill the oil lighters that are kept in the acolyte
closet. The oil lighters unscrew at the top. It is very difficult not to overfill so have a cloth or
paper towel handy.
Bring holy water and oil bottle back in to sacristy, stopping in the priests' sacristy to fill the
At this point washing your hands is a good idea as you will be handling the vestments, linens,
and polished metal and paper.
In the sacristy, open the cabinet above the counter and take out two chalices, two patens one
lavabo and two ciboria and from the top right drawer take out two purificators, one lavabo towel,
and one corporal.
Lavabo towel, purificator, corporal
Place a purificator over each chalice place paten on each purificator. From cabinet above counter
on the bottom shelf, get a priest host from the metal ciborium and place on one of the
Go to the vesting sacristy and from the appropriate seasonal drawer retrieve the burse and veil.
Place veil on paten with priest‘s host. Open burse and put corporal inside it.
Place burse on veil. This is referred to as ―the stack.‖ The burse and veil should have their open
edge to the back of the chalice (non cross side).
Retrieve the glass cruets for wine and water. The levels of the liquids should come up to the
bottom of the cross in the large set, and to the bottom of the handle in the medium set. Normally
the large set is used at the 8:30 service and the medium set at the 10:30 service.
Place large cruets on a silver tray with a doily under the cruets. The trays are normally out on
the counter; if they are not there, look above the counter in the center cabinet second shelf. The
doilies are kept in the top drawer, on the left side.
Fill one of the ciboria (I prefer the hammered silver one as it is easy to open and clean) with
enough wafers for both services. The wafers are kept above the counter in the left cabinet in an
opaque plastic container. Place this ciborium on the tray with the cruets for the first service.
Fill the other ciboria (I prefer the small hammered metal one on a stand) with a few of the
gluten-free wafers from the Tupperware container with the red lid.
Take the tray with the large glass cruets and ciborium and 4 collection plates to the back of the
church. They will sit on the table on the left side. The alms basins are kept in the vesting sacristy
on the second shelf at the end of the vestment drawers.
At the back of the church, the 4 collection plates go on the table with the bulletins and the tray
with glass cruets and ciborium goes on a stand to the left of the plates/bulletins.
Take the stack, second chalice with purificator and paten, lavabo and lavabo towel, ciborium
with gluten-free wafers, and the alms basin to credence table in chancel. Check the credence
cloth for spots or dirt; change the cloth if a clean one is needed. The alms basin stands up on a
small plate stand at the back of the credence table.
The stack is positioned in front of the alms basin, centered on the credence table. The opening
for the burse and veil should face the basin.
The second chalice with purificator and paten all are placed on the right hand side of the alms
basin (as if you are facing the table).
The ciborium with gluten-free wafers is placed on the left (on the right side of the alms basin if
you are facing the table). The lavabo and lavabo towel are placed in front of the ciborium with
In the chancel at the ambo, take the lectionary book from shelf and open it to the lessons that are
listed in bulletin. Put copy of the current bulletin on shelf.
Place three bulletins on the right-side (as you are facing the altar) chairs for the acolytes.
Back in the vesting sacristy, open the appropriate seasonal drawer set out three sets of vestments.
From left to right (if you are facing the vestment cabinet), place the tunicle, chausable and the
dalmatic. The difference between the tunicle and dalmatic is generally the ornamentation on each
one. The deacon gets the wider stripe or more ornamental vestment. Take three stoles from the
small drawer marked in the same color as the vestment drawer. Place the two priest stoles on top
of the chausable and the deacon stole on the dalmatic.
To identify the different stoles: Deacons wear the stole like a sash, the stole resting on the left
shoulder and thence passing across the breast and back to the right side. Otherwise, the stole of
the priest extends from the back of the neck across the shoulders to the breast, where the two
halves either cross each other or fall straight down, depending on whether the stole is worn over
the alb or the surplice.
From the sacristy, retrieve a cincture found under the counter, in the left side second drawer. An
amice can be found under the counter on the right side, in the second drawer.
Place the cincture and the amice on the tunicle. Place a bulletin on the tunicle and dalmatic and
two on the chausable.
From the small drawer marked in the same color as the vestment drawer, remove a pillow and a
Place pillow and towel at the end of vestment cabinet nearest the door to the hall.
From the shelf at the end of the of vestment cabinet, remove blue box and retrieve the silver
Place the silver gospel book on the towel. During lent and advent a plain gospel book is used.
Ensure that the gospel is marked to quickly locate the gospel listed in the bulletin. There is an
index in the back of the gospel book, if needed.
From shelf at the end of the of vestment cabinet, get a dark red box marked ―missal book‖ and
retrieve the missal.
Place the missal on the pillow. At certain times of the year, the missal book will be replaced with
a loose leaf note book.
Remove BAT (Blue Altar Cloth) cloth from Altar and check the Fair Linen for dirt/spots.
Replace with a clean one if needed.
The Gospel Book is set on the folded towel on the right side of the altar from the priest‘s
perspective. The bottom of the book pages is toward the congregation. The Missal is set on the
pillow on the round shelf beside the credence table.
This completes all of the preparations tasks, so it is then best to mentally run through a check list
just to ensure it is all completed. Some Altar Guild members walk through the church and
sacristy and check the following to verify they are in their proper places and conditions:
Wine & water vessels
Vestments & books
I then give thanks for being able to serve God and St. Peters.
1. Set up for Sundays' Holy Eucharist should be done before Saturday evening.
2. Set up is for two services.
3. Color for Season or Special Service must be determined. The Ordo Kalendar posted in the
sacristy hall (and the Altar Guild Schedule) will indicate color.
4. Frontals and Superfrontals are in the downstairs hallway. Lectern falls, veils and cross veil are
in the drawers in the sacristy. (A ladder is needed to change the cross veil. The ladder is behind
the door in the sacristy.)
5. Remove old flowers if necessary. If flowers are in good condition they may be placed at the
Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph statues.
6. Communion vessels are to be silver except during Lent and Advent.
7. During Lent communion vessels are the glass sets.
8. Communion service is set on the credence table for the 8:30 Service. Four offering plates and
communion elements are placed in the back of the church.
9. The 8:30 and 10:30 services need one veiled chalice and paten on the credence table, with
priest host, an extra chalice, purificator and paten in addition to the Veiled set (stack), Lavabo
and Lavabo towel, Large Offering Plate, Ciborium with gluten-free wafers.
10. The large glass cruets for Wine and Water are used at 8:30 services. Wine should usually be
filled to the bottom of the cross (Christmas and Easter the silver cruets are used). The medium
cruet set is filled to the bottom of the handle (should be used at the 10:30 Service).
11. The Missal (marked on side) is set on the pillow on the credence table. The Gospel Book is
set on the folded towel on Gospel side of the altar, the book facing the congregation. The Silver
Gospel book is to be used in all seasons except Lent. The Red Gospel book is to be used in Lent.
12. Set out three sets of Vestments on the Vestment chest unless the celebrant says fewer are
13. Check to see if ciborium and cruet for Reserve Sacrament needs cleaning. If so, clean them
14. Tidy up the Sanctuary: remove old bulletins, tissues, etc. Straighten chairs. Vacuum if
necessary (Barrington usually does this, but it may need a ―touch-up‖).
Reset for 10:30
15. Clear credence table from 8:30 a.m. service except for gluten-free wafer ciborium.
16. Empty Offering Plates into sacristy safe and put plates away on shelf.
17. Reset credence table, offering plates, and communion elements.
18. Place Gospel Book back on towel on altar facing the congregation.
19. Place Altar Book on Pillow to side of credence table.
20. Place dirty linens in linens bag in sacristy.
Clean Up and Put Away (after services are complete)
1. Clear credence table, offering plates, etc.
2. Place all offerings in sacristy safe.
3. Fold and put away vestments.
4. Recover altar with Blue Altar Table (BAT) Cloth.
5. Wash and dry communion vessels. Cruets hang on drying rack.
6. Refill the two altar candles for mid-week services.
7. Place dirty linens in linens bag in sacristy.
8. Make sure offering is removed from church and put in the safe.
9. Ensure all candles are extinguished.
10. Turn out all lights.
11. Check to see that doors are locked.
11. Thank God on the way out for the opportunity to have served God and God's people this day.
Repair and Upkeep:
Notify a Co-Rector if anything needs repair or replacing. If it is something you can repair
yourself, do so. If not, we will find someone who can help.
Elizabeth Hildebrandt cleans the linens. She will return them to the sacristy to the appropriate
drawer. There are special seasonal linens for special feasts and holy days in the left hand top
drawer. Make sure these linens are in the correct folders.
The Altar Guild Chair will ensure that the Fair Linens get cleaned and ironed.
Please notify a Co-Rector when things are needed: Wafers, wine, votive and candles, new linens,
liquid wax, holy water, etc.
The water from Holy Baptism must be saved in the Holy Water containers. If necessary, a priest
may bless water to restore the necessary amount of Holy Water on hand. The prayer for Blessing
the Water in Baptism is to be used.
The Altar Guild Chair sets up for weddings and funerals.
Baptisms are always on a Sunday, so it is the responsibility of the team assigned to serve on that
1. Baptisms are always done at a Sunday morning Eucharist, and usually on All Saints Day,
Feast of our Lord's Baptism, Easter Vigil and Pentecost.
2. Altar hangings, vestments, etc., are always white for Baptisms.
3. The top of the Font must be removed and set aside.
4. A small bench is placed near the Paschal Candle.
5. A silver pitcher of warm water is placed on the bench, with the silver oil stock and a lavabo
6. A silver bowl is placed in the Font.
7. After the service the water in the bowl is saved and poured into the Holy Water containers.
8. The small bench is put back, and top replaced on the Font.
1. Check with officiating clergy for any special instructions.
2. Set up is usually same for Holy Eucharist.
3. Set up needs to be done at least 2 hours before wedding.
4. Altar hangings, vestments, etc., are always White.
5. Communion Elements, chalice, etc., usually set on Credence Table.
6. Cushion from the prayer desk in hallway is placed on broad step (cushion is inside bottom of
prayer desk which opens up).
7. Clean up from wedding and set up for Sunday usually must be done after the wedding. Check
calendar in the office for times of weddings.
1. Check time, check with clergy, and set up must be done at least 2 hours before funeral.
2. Altar hangings, vestments, etc. are always white for funerals.
3. If the casket Pall (it is kept in the frontal box) is needed, set it out on the communion rail.
4. Set up is as it would usually be for the Holy Eucharist.
1. Make sure there are individual Tapers available. They are kept in the acolyte closet in the hall.
2. Make sure there are new candles for the wall sconces.
1. Wooden Processional Cross and 4 statues must be veiled in purple.
2. No Flowers are used on the altar in Lent
3. Make sure Paschal Candle is ordered.
4. Make sure there are Tapers for the Great Vigil of Easter. Order more, if necessary. They are
kept in the acolyte closet in the hall.
5. Make sure there are candles for the wall sconces for the Great Vigil.
Holy Week, Easter Vigil, and Easter:
Palm Sunday (Red):
1. An arrangement of Palms is placed where the flowers are usually placed behind the altar.
2. At 8:30 and 10:30, the procession begins in Starr Hall.
3. A table is covered with a white table cloth in Starr Hall.
4. The palms, the glass bowl and brush for asperges are placed on the table.
5. Bulletins must be available downstairs in Starr Hall.
Maundy Thursday (White):
1. Benches are set in sanctuary inside the carpet boarder, three on each side.
2. Pitchers of warm water, bowls, sponges and towels are set at the end of each line of benches.
3. There must be extra pitchers of warm water to replace the used water.
4. All Altar Guild members must be on hand for the stripping of the altar and sanctuary.
5. Two extra cruets (the smallest set) (one with wine, one with water) must be on the credence
table along with a two small hand towels.
6. Purple veils and altar hangings are put away.
Good Friday (No Altar Hangings):
1. Crucifix from over door to hallway is set in its stand (found in hall closet) on the altar facing
2. Two chalices with purificators are set on the credence table unveiled. No patens are needed.
Holy Saturday (10:00 am in Sanctuary):
1. No set up required. Readings only lasts about 15 minutes.
2. Set up and decoration for Sunday services may begin immediately following this Saturday
service, so the Altar Guild and those decorating the church may wish to attend this service before
beginning their work.
The Great Vigil of Easter (White):
1. All decorations taken out on Maundy Thursday are returned to their proper locations.
2. Make sure individual tapers and wax collectors are out of the hall closet and ready to go.
3. Make sure the wall sconces have new candles.
4. Glass Bowl and brush for asperges is set out in Baptismal Font.
5. Basket of bells (stored in closet in vesting sacristy) is put on table in narthex.
6. Use silver cruets for water and wine
Easter Day (White):
- Set up as per normal Sunday Eucharist with silver cruets
Advent (Blue :)
1. Make sure to use the full frontal with Jesus in the Palm Trees.
2. The Lenox Crèche is set out during Advent beneath the Baptismal Font.
3. Advent Wreath is bolted to wrought-iron stand in corner behind Baptismal Font.
4. Blue/Pink oil candles (in hall closet) that are set in Wreath must be refilled each week after
1. Two services on Christmas Eve: 4:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
2. One service Christmas Day at 10:00 a.m.
3. Set up is as for normal Sunday Eucharist.
4. Bambino is set out for all services through Christmas 2.
5. Lenox Crèche remains set out through Epiphany.
The word ‗sacristy‘ derives from the Latin word sacra, meaning ―holy things.‖ The ―holy things‖
kept in the sacristy are the sacred vessels and the vestments for the priest and altar. The sacristy
should be kept clean, neat, and in good working condition at all times.
Liturgical Colors and Symbols of the Church Year
Symbol of purity, joy, and the bright light of truth; used for seasons and days of the
Church Year relating to our Lord, such as: Christmas, Easter, The Epiphany, The Ascension,
Trinity Sunday, and The Transfiguration. It is also used for un-martyred saints, at the
administration of Holy Baptism, the celebration of a Marriage, and the Burial of the Dead,
Thanksgiving Day, and other certain special occasions. The emblems of our Lord are: IHS, Chi
Rho, the crown, lily, rose, Agnus Dei, and Alleluia. Gold and colors may be used for embroidery
on white/gold hangings.
The color of penitence and expectation is traditionally used in the season of Lent and in some
churches also for Advent. Unbleached linen or similar material is alternately used for Lent.
Emblems of the Passion of our Lord include the crown of thorns, three nails, passion flower, the
cross, pelican, IHS, the Chalice and Host, and grapes and wheat.
The expectant color of Mary is being used in more and more churches during Advent.
Advent is still a season of reflection and preparation, as soberly penitential as Lent. Appropriate
symbols are the Tau Cross and symbols of Mary.
Red is the symbol of the Holy Spirit and the blood of martyrs, used for the Day of Pentecost and
for the days of Martyrs, Confirmation, and Ordination. Red is also used on Palm Sunday, and in
many churches a deeper red (ox blood) is used during Holy Week. Appropriate symbols are the
dove, rays of glory, Chalice and Host, IHS, Agnus Dei, lily, and rose.
Green symbolizes hope, life, growth, and nature. This color is used for the more common
seasons after Epiphany and after Pentecost, formerly known as the Trinity Season. Appropriate
emblems show the Trinity, ―Holy Holy Holy‖ or ―Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus‖, triangles and
circles, trefoil, three circles, or the cross growing out of three circles.
Commonly Used Terms
Ablutions: Ceremonial cleansing of the chalice and paten by the celebrant after the Eucharist.
Acolyte: One who assists the priest.
Advent Wreath: Four candles arranged in a circle, one of which is lighted on the first Sunday in
advent, and one more on each of the Sundays that follows in Advent.
Alb: The long white robe that the priest wears for services of Holy Eucharist.
Alms Basin: An offering plate.
Altar: The Holy Table upon which the Holy Eucharist is celebrated.
Altar Bread: The wafers or bread used at the Eucharist.
Altar Rail: A railing in front of the altar that separates the chancel from the rest of the church.
Amice: A large oblong white neck piece worn by some priests with some albs.
Ambo: Lectern from which the word is read and the priest preaches.
Ante-Communion: That part of the Eucharist service which precedes the oblations.
Aumbry: The ―wall cabinet‖ in the sanctuary that contains consecrated bread and wine also
referred to as a ―tabernacle‖.
BAT: Blue Altar Table.
Baptistry or Baptistery: The place where the font is located, usually near the entrance of the
Baptismal Towel: The long, narrow towel which the celebrant uses to ‗dry off‘ the newly
baptized. For baptisms we put out one baptismal towel for each person to be baptized.
Bible Markers: The silk hangings that decorate the lectern.
Bishop: The highest order of the sacred ministry in the Episcopal Church; the head of the
Diocese, elected by the Diocese.
Bishop Coadjutor: A bishop elected and given jurisdiction to assist and later to succeed the
Bishop Suffragan: A bishop elected to assist the diocesan bishop, but without jurisdiction or
right of succession.
Bishop’s Chair: A special chair on the gospel side of the sanctuary, reserved for the diocesan
bishop on his visitations.
Bread Boxes: (ciborium (singular) ciboria (plural); Latin) the small, round, silver ―boxes‖ with
lids. They hold the wafers for the Eucharist.
Burse: A square flat case used to hold the corporal, the post communion veil, if used, and
purificator. It is placed on the veiled chalice at the Eucharist.
Cassock: The long garment that the priest wears under a white surplice for services other than
the Eucharist. Cassocks are also worn by acolytes and choir members. On Good Friday black
cassocks can be worn without the surplice.
Celebration: The consecration and administration of the Holy Eucharist.
Censer: A vessel for burning incense, especially a covered incense burner swung on chains in a
religious ceremony. See also ‗thurible‘.
Chalice: The ‗goblet‘ from which wine is served.
Chalice Veil: See Post-Communion Veil and Silk Chalice Veil.
Chancel: The area that contains the choir pews, the organ, the pulpit, the lectern, and the Altar.
Sometimes the chancel is separated from the nave by a rood screen. ‗Rood‘ is another name for
Chasuble: The ‗poncho-shaped‘ garment that the celebrant wears for the Eucharist. On
Sundays the priest puts it on at the Offertory.
Chimere: A long garment with armholes, but without sleeves. It is worn by a bishop over the
rochet and may be either red or black.
Ciborium: (Bread Boxes) A chalice like cup with a cover, used for the bread at the Eucharist.
Cincture: A wide flat cloth belt or girdle worn around the cassock.
Cope: A long, elaborate cloak of colored silk or brocade worn by a bishop or priest at festival
occasions. It has a clasp at the neck called a Morse.
Cotta: A white garment similar to a surplice, but shorter and without a cross on the front worn
by acolytes over the cassock.
Credence: The shelf on the Epistle (pulpit) side of the Altar. This table holds the wine and
wafers to be consecrated, the lavabo bowl, and the lavabo towel.
Credence Cloth: The linen cover that is placed on the credence table before the table is ‗set‘.
Crozier: A bishop‘s pastoral staff.
Crucifer: The cross-bearer in a procession.
Crucifix: The cross with the figure of our Lord upon it.
Cruets: The small pitchers that hold wine and water. The cruet containing wine is always kept to
the right side of the water. When the cruets are placed on the credence table, the handles are
toward the wall if there is an acolyte to serve the priest or toward the nave when the priest is
Deacon: One of three holy orders of the ministry.
Dean: The chief of the clergy on the staff of a cathedral; also the head of a seminary.
Diocese: The see or jurisdiction of a bishop.
Dossal: A tapestry or curtain that hangs behind the altar.
Dust Cover: The linen cloth that covers the altar fair linen after the worship service is over.
A dust cover is often of a coarser weave of linen than the fair linen. It is simply a dust cover,
even though it may be embroidered with crosses, etc.
Elements: The bread, wine, and water which are used at the Eucharist.
Epistle Side: The right side of the chancel as one faces the altar.
Eucharist: The service of Holy Communion.
Eucharistic Candlesticks: The pair of candlesticks beside the altar. These candles are lit only
and when the Eucharist is celebrated. These are the only candles that go on the altar.
Eucharistic Vessels: Any or all of the containers and ‗dishes‘ used for the Eucharist.
Eucharistic Vestment: The special vestments often worn at a celebration of the Eucharist or
Holy Communion: alb, amice, girdle, stole, chasuble, and maniple.
Ewer: The large pitcher that holds water for baptisms. When there is a baptism, the ewer is filled
with hot water just before the service, and placed on the floor near or behind the font.
Fair Linen: The large white linen cloth that covers the altar. It is the altar‘s tablecloth.
Flagon: A vessel to hold wine for the Eucharist.
Followers: The brass ‗collars‘ which fit the tops of the candles to protect against drafts.
Font: The basin where baptisms are performed.
Frontal: A full-length, colored hanging for the altar.
Girdle: A white cotton or linen rope worn about the waist over the alb.
Gospel Book: The book which contains all of the Gospel readings.
Gospel Side: The left side of the chancel as once faces the altar.
Hangings: All of the colored silk items that decorate the sanctuary and chancel.
Host Wafer or Priest’s Host: The large wafer that is held up and broken by the celebrant at the
Hymn Board: The wooden board on the wall of a church that lists the day of the church season
and the hymns for the day.
IHS: The first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek also the initial letters of Jesus hominem
salvator, Latin for ―Jesus the Savior of mankind‖.
Large Offering Plate:
Lavabo: The small silver bowl which is used by the priest for the symbolic washing of hands
before celebrating the Eucharist. It is placed on the credence table with the lavabo towel.
Lavabo Towel: The small linen towel on the credence table, next to the lavabo bowl, that the
priest uses to dry his/her hands after the symbolic washing of hands before celebrating the
Lectern: The podium from which the lessons are read.
Lectern Fall: The decorative silk rectangle that hangs from the lectern.
Lectionary or Text Book: The book that contains all the Sunday Bible readings for the year.
Texts change from Year A to Year B to Year C beginning with the first Sunday in Advent.
Liturgical Colors: The appropriate color for the day according to the church calendar, known to
be in religious seasons. The colors are reflected in the hangings and the color of the priest‘s
vestments. The calendar on the wall of the sacristy has the days printed in the appropriate color.
The basic seasonal colors are: Advent Purple or Blue, Christmas White, Epiphany Green, Lent
Purple, Easter White, Pentecost Red, Trinity Sunday White, Sundays After Pentecost Green.
Litany Desk: The portable kneeling bench or prayer desk.
Maniple: A short band or scarf worn on the left arm of the celebrant at Holy Communion as part
of the Eucharistic Vestments. Most priests no longer use a maniple.
Mensa: The top of the altar or Holy Table.
Missal: Now known in many churches as the Service Book. The altar service book contains the
services of the Holy Eucharist, the collects, epistles, and gospels.
Missal Stand or Service Book Stand: The stand or desk upon which the altar service book
Mitre: A liturgical headdress worn by bishops on formal occasions.
Oblations: The bread and wine brought to the altar at the offertory.
Oblation Table: A table that holds the bread and wine (the oblations), which are brought
forward by members of the congregation during the offertory.
Offertory: The presentation of oblations and alms to the altar.
Office: A service of the church, other than Holy Eucharist, such as Morning or Evening Prayer.
Office Candles or Office Lights: The candles behind the altar on the retable next to the cross in
Ordination: The conferring of Holy Orders by a bishop.
Ordo Kalendar: An annual calendar containing instructions for the Mass and office to be
celebrated on each day of the year.
Orphrey: An embroidered band on a chasuble or other vestment or hanging.
Pall: This word means ‗covering‘. It refers to two quite different coverings:
1. A pall is the small, linen covered square of Plexiglas that covers the paten and host wafer on a
2. The funeral pall is the large, embroidered silk covering that covers the casket for a funeral.
Paschal Candle: The large, decorated candle that is lit at the Easter Vigil and burns throughout
the Easter season to Pentecost. The Paschal candle is also used at baptisms and funerals.
Paten: The silver plate from which the communion wafers are served.
Pectoral Cross: The large cross worn by ordained priests and bishops.
Piscina: A drain in the sacristy which that flows directly to the ground instead of into the sewer
system. The drain is used for the disposal of consecrated elements: wine in chalices, bread
crumbs on paten, and wine rinsed from purificators. The word ―piscina‖ means ―fish pond‖ in
Post-Communion Veil: A fine linen veil used to cover consecrated elements after the Eucharist.
Priest: The second of the three orders of the priesthood; one who has been ordained by a bishop
to administer the Sacraments of the Church.
Protector: Another word for dust cover.
Pulpit Fall: The decorative silk rectangle that hangs from the pulpit.
Purificator: The small linen square that the priest or other minister uses to wipe the rim of the
chalice; acts like a napkin.
Receiving Basin: An extra large alms basin.
Rector: A priest who is head of a parish.
Reredos: The panel of wood or stone behind the altar.
Reserved Sacrament is consecrated bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ that has not
been distributed to communicants in a service of Holy Eucharist, and is kept in an aumbry or
tabernacle. A small amount of consecrated bread and wine is often reserved for use by the priest
and lay ministers in visitations, or for the sick, dying, or other similar circumstances.
Retable: A shelf behind the altar, also known as a gradine.
Rochet: A long white linen vestment with wide sleeves tied at the wrists, worn by a bishop
under a chimere.
Rood: A cross or crucifix.
Rood Beam: A beam between the nave and the chancel with the rood upon it.
Rood Screen: A screen separating the nave from the chancel, with the rood upon it.
Sacristy: A room where preparations are made for the worship service, the Lord‘s Kitchen. In
addition to the Altar Guild sacristy where we work, there is often a priest‘s sacristy where the
priest and acolytes vest.
Sanctuary: The space inside the altar rail.
Sanctuary Light (also “Sanctuary Lamp”): A light, usually a candle but not necessarily so, in
the sanctuary that is constantly lit whenever there is reserve sacrament present in the aumbry or
Sedilia: The seats within the sanctuary, for the clergy and assisting laity. Singular is ‗sedile‘.
Service Book or Missal: The large ‗prayer book‘ from which the priest reads the service at the
Stole: A stole is a long narrow band of silk worn over the shoulders of the clergy at the Eucharist
it is worn over the alb, and usually matches the color of the hangings.
Superfrontal or Frontlet: A short hanging for the front of the altar it may be used over a frontal
or separately, and may be made of handsome lace or silk.
Surplice: A white vestment with full flowing sleeves. It is longer than a cotta and has a cross on
the front. Worn with the stole, it is the standard clergy vesture for any of the church‘s offices.
Thurible: A censer. A vessel for burning incense, especially a covered incense burner swung on
chains in a religious ceremony.
Tippet: A black scarf, wider than a stole, worn about the neck, with ends hanging down the
front. It is worn by the clergy at choir offices. Usually the diocesan shield and the shield of the
priest‘s seminary are on the ends of the tippet.
Vestments: The special garments worn by the priest and other ministers of the service.
Vicar: A priest in charge of a mission or chapel
Wafer: The unleavened bread used at the Eucharist.
Tunicle- Worn by Sub-Deacon if facing counter placed on left hand end
Chausable-Worn by the celebrant if facing counter placed in middle
Dalmatic – Worn by the deacon if facing counter placed on right hand end
Additional pictures will be added as we change seasons.