Friday, January 16, 2009

Lookit all da' Pretty Colors

Many folk unfamiliar with practices of the Liturgical Church will sometimes ask “What’s with all the colors?” Jack Chick and his acolytes will immediately attribute them as secret signals of a Vatican cabal, while the set designers at Trinity Broadcasting will cluck their tongues and suggest some estrogen-soaked shocking pink or an eye-gouging pastel.

The colors of worship, and the seasons they describe date back to the dawn of the Apostolic Church. Up until the 4th century, the only liturgical color in use was white. At about this point, the colors Red, Green and Black were added to the prescribed rubrics. The color Violet was added to these rubrics early in the thirteenth Century.

Consider the colors and their implications:

  • White, the color of Christmas, Easter, Trinity, Christ the King and Weddings speak to and typify innocence, purity, joy and glory.
  • Red, the color of Pentecost, Palm Sunday, and the commemoration of the Martyrs speak to fire, blood and sacrifice.
  • Violet, the color of Advent and Lent speak to solemn introspection, contrition and affliction (Consider the violet fabric laid on the traumatized shoulders of Christ by the Romans).
  • Black, the color of Good Friday is emblematic of mourning, sorrow and the somber realities of death and the grave.
  • Green, the color of living, vibrant vegetation speaks to the hope of life everlasting in the presence of the Godhead.


Anonymous said...

is there a significance for the color blue in the church? just curious...

plsdeacon said...


There are two other "colors" that both come from Salisbury Cathedral. First is "Sarum Lenten Array" and it is an unbleached white (think flax) with red and black "piping" or bands. This is to signify sack cloth and ashes.

The second is Sarum Blue and is a light blue used in Advent. Blue is the color associated with the Virgin Mary.

The reason both of these colors came into being is that purple dye did not exist in the Salisbury area. Sarum was the Latin or Roman name for Salisbury.

Phil Snyder

Andy said...

Thanks Phil/
I was aware of the Marian Blue, but not the Sarum Lenten Array.


Anonymous said...

thank you phil :)

Andy said...

Phil runs a great blog over at The Deacon's Slant