Re: [liturgy-l] Why vestments?
- Frank Senn's comments:
>Vestments are a symbolic type of clothing. They serve to make a statement about oneself or the nature of the event. One must always make conscious decisions about what to wear to a public event.lead me to rejoin that, in my experience, what to wear, even by clergy,
while always a "choice" may not always be a concious one. The wearer,
and the viewers, may not have actually made any conscious thought about
what is being worn, beyond, "this is the way we do it here".
I'm of an age, and heritage, when in the summer time, when it was very
warm in church, a man _might_ omit his suit jacket, but the only excuse
for showing up at church in anything less than a dress shirt, tie, and
jacket, were the spring and autumn work-days. Today I see people
approach the altar for communion in clothing their grandparents in a
rural setting would have thought unworthy for feeding the livestock, and
I'm hoping there is no degree of "conscious choice" involved.
- Relevant information might include that chapters and verses weren't
supplied until printers did so. The incipits and excipits were how a
passage was cited or specified for the readings in lists. I don't know
when liturgical lectionaries were used instead of finding the day's
passage in the one bible the community had.
Calligraphers do not use the printer's terminology of "upper case" or
the "lower case" which is how printers stored their type for composing
the lines of type for a certain document. Calligraphers call the
capital letters "uncials" and the smaller letters are called
"minuscule." Uncials were used for inscriptions, in stone for example,
and tend to have straight lines. Minuscules approach cursive writing
and are designed to conserve the material used for the writing surface,
parchment, papyrus, vellum, paper, etc. There is usually very little
"white space" on manuscripts because the biggest investment was in the
My guess, therefore, is the incipits and excipits were taken from any of
the various lists of liturgical readings. (So there is the connection
to our group's liturgical subject matter.) They were calligraphed in
uncials because that was the "other" way of writing and would make them
stand out when one was searching for the passage. I would guess that
the length of the incipit was determined either by the traditional
citation phrase or was what it took to distinguish one passage from any
St. Louis, Missouri
An unemployed jester is nobody's fool.
>St. John's Abbey here in Minnesota has commissioned a Bible to be
>hand-lettered and illuminated in the medieval style. If you have not
>heard of or wish information about the St. John's Bible (which is a
>project of absolutely, unquestionably fascinating complexity, faith,
>and resolution), you can look here: http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/. An
>exhibit featuring actual pages from the manuscript, along with a wealth
>of information about the manuscript tradition, caligraphy, and the
>project itself is now traveling around the country, and if you have a
>chance to see it, please treat yourself. (The theological and
>liturgical sophistication and sensitivity is breathtaking.)
> In reviewing some of the pages of the St. John's Bible again yesterday
>at the Abbey, I ran across an old question, and I hope that someone on
>this list may be able to enlighten me (as the staff person at the Hill
>Manuscript Library was not able to do): "Incipits" are the beginning
>text of a manuscript. It is tradition to place them in all capital
>letters (as also the excipits). And so the handlettered St. John's
>Bible features them so (when a book is deemed to have them, which not
>all the Bible's books are not).
> Can you tell me how the incipit of a book of the Bible is determined?
>Some books have quite long incipits; some, quite short; some, not at
>all. How does the overseer of the project know what the incipits (and
> Do you have any information about why manuscript tradition shows the
>incipits and excipits in all caps?
> I realize that this may have ancillary relevance to the subject of
>this listserv, but after all, it is the Bible.
> Grace and peace
> Dwight Penas
> We take for granted the slow miracle whereby water in the irrigation
>of a vineyard becomes wine. It is only when Christ turns water into
>wine, in a quick motion, as it were, that we stand amazed. -- Saint
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