Ornaments of Advent at Saint Mark’s

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Did you know? Just as we light a new candle in the wreath each week of Advent, so the cathedral altar also changes each Sunday...

Cathedral Sacristan and Head Verger Michael Seewer sends an email several times a year to those at Saint Mark's involved in liturgical ministries, including both practical announcements about scheduling, training, etc., as well as spiritual reflections and items of more general interest. In his Advent newsletter, Michael included interesting information about the Advent "paraments" (matched set of seasonal vestments and decorations) and the 2020 Advent wreath—information which may be new to many community members, and deserves a wider audience. Thank you, Michael!


The Advent Paraments

Each year for the four weeks of Advent, the nave is adorned with our Advent set of paraments. This set of Sarum blue, purple, and rose paraments (which includes altar hangings and vestments) was lovingly crafted years ago by Steve Hartwell, a beloved member of Saint Mark's Community for many years.

Steve made the original set using wool and dupioni silk in jewel shades of blue, purple, and rose. He designed the multi-color borders used on the altar frontal and on the vestments (chasuble, tunicle, and dalmatic). Remnants of the fabric when the set was originally created were kept for future use. Years after the set was originally made, the altar was enlarged, and Jo Ann Bailey stepped forward to add a larger layer (the royal blue layer in the back) so that the frontal fits the enlarged altar better.

One special tradition of ours with this frontal is to add an additional layer to the frontal each week. On the first Sunday of Advent, we start with the original jewel-toned border layer visible. The second week of Advent, the purple layer is added, the third the royal blue, until by the fourth week of Advent the final light blue layer is made visible. This coincides with the tradition of adding additional O Antiphon banners each week in front of the reredos.

Since the pandemic, we have begun using a burse and veil to "vest" the chalice each week. You may notice this placed in the center of the corporal on the altar at the start of service. We did not have a matching blue burse and veil for our Advent set, and so Jo Ann Bailey has once again stepped forward with her talented eye and has crafted a burse and veil using remnants from the original parament set. This Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, will be our first Sunday using this new burse and veil.

We are grateful for the talent of Steve Hartwell who lovingly crafted this beautiful parament set for us many years ago. We are also grateful for the passion and creativity of Jo Ann Bailey, who helps us to maintain this and all of our paraments, and who has made this new burse and veil and others this year to match our other parament sets. These beautiful additions to our worship space help to remind us of the changing seasons, and to remind us that we are called each week to worship "in the beauty of holiness."


Editor's note: Steve Hartwell died in May 2011 after an illness. The following note appeared in the service leaflet for his funeral liturgy:

We use today the Cathedral's Advent set of vestments. The liturgical color normally used for funerals is white, the color that marks our celebration of Jesus' promise of resurrection. However in some traditions, such as the Sarum rite, a community would use its best and finest vestments for a funeral regardless of their liturgical color. Of all the vestments Steve designed for this community, he felt that the Advent set was his best work and it is the favorite of many people in this community.


The 2020 Advent Wreath

We are grateful that, even with the continued Cathedral closure, the Saint Mark's flower guild continues to grace us with their talent and care by providing flowers and plants to beautify the nave. We are especially grateful this year for the time that Ray Miller dedicated to crafting our Advent wreath, a must-have for the season of Advent! [Editor's note: The making of the Advent wreath was another task overseen by Steve Hartwell for many years, and taken over by his partner Ray following his death.]

This year's wreath was crafted using clippings from the Cathedral Close, as well as some plantings along the Greenbelt. The evergreen branches are juniper, and the small branches with red fruit are from the hawthorn plant at the north end of the close. The yellow and green leaves are from a shrub along the northwest side of the close. This shrub is known as euonymus, or maybe specifically golden euonymus.

Ray designed the wreath with the alignment mindful of the fact that we light the rose candle on the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday. We are grateful to Ray for crafting this wreath. And thank you also to Beatrix Roemheld-Hamm for her leadership of the flower guild, and for all of the many ways the flower guild team brings beauty to the nave!

Ray Miller and Steve Hartwell

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