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Source: (consider it) Thread: What's wrong with cassock-albs?
Al Eluia

Inquisitor
# 864

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I ran across this Facebook group today.
Sockety for the Elimination of the Cassock-Alb I'm pretty sure I've seen hatred for these vestments expressed in the past on these boards.

Can someone explain to me: 1) what is wrong with cassock-albs, 2) how the cassock-alb pictured on the above page is a combination of a cassock and and alb, 3) why this matters?

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Angloid
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Nothing at all, in principle. If they are cut generously so that they fall in graceful folds, and have full sleeves, IMHO they look better than the traditional type. Especially if they are worn without chasuble and especially without a cincture or girdle.

I just don't understand the irrational prejudice so many people seem to have about them. And the practical advantage for a peripatetic priest like me is that a cassock-alb (and stole, if you're not sure what haberdashery the church you are visiting can provide) suits all contingencies from nose-bleed High Mass to north-ending evangelical.

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dyfrig
Blue Scarfed Menace
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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:

I just don't understand the irrational prejudice so many people seem to have about them.

Just like every Welsh non-conformist needed a chapel they didn't go to, and the early Christians hated those who fasted on Mondays and Thursdays, every Anglican needs some item of liturgy or vesture to get angry about.

This is how it is for persons who find themslves controlling less of the world than they instinctively think they deserve.

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Baptist Trainfan
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[Overused]
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by dyfrig:
quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:

I just don't understand the irrational prejudice so many people seem to have about them.

Just like every Welsh non-conformist needed a chapel they didn't go to, and the early Christians hated those who fasted on Mondays and Thursdays, every Anglican needs some item of liturgy or vesture to get angry about.

This is how it is for persons who find themslves controlling less of the world than they instinctively think they deserve.

Didn't you have a parable once of something like how a particular monastery had a problem with the cat wondering in during their service, with the result that a thousand years later Matins still started with the Cantor intoning "And has the Cat been shown the door, and the cat flap locked?" with the response "Yea, and also hath the litter tray been put outside lest it stinketh."

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Basilica
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When I think of Anglo-Catholics of my acquaintance, there are two broad categories. This is very broad and there are many who don't fit in.

The first is those who grew up in the 60s and 70s, for whom the simplicity of the cassock-alb is a reaction to the the presciptivism/pedantry they perceived in traditional forms of catholicism.

Among those who grew up later, the simplicity of the cassock-alb is symptomatic of a kind of Christianity that is undemanding or casual.

Although I happily wear either, I very much prefer the traditional form of dress. As a priest, I find my preparation for saying mass is enhanced by the deliberation required in tying an amice and carefully adjusting an alb.

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irreverend tod
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The cassock alb is handy in the event of a service being taken in a warm church - not normal in rural England but common in other parts of the world. I suspect many of the haters wouldn't appreciate this. In many churches in the UK as many layers as possible are required for warmth; especially in the churches where the heating goes on to stop the communion wine from freezing.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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This discussion won't put an end to the wearing of cassock-albs and one is not under an obligation to wear them; they are not compulsory!

The alternative is too easy to mention - traditional albs, or cassock and surplice/cotta.

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by irreverend tod:
The cassock alb is handy in the event of a service being taken in a warm church - not normal in rural England but common in other parts of the world. I suspect many of the haters wouldn't appreciate this. In many churches in the UK as many layers as possible are required for warmth; especially in the churches where the heating goes on to stop the communion wine from freezing.

A generously cut cassock-alb allows for the wearing of many layers underneath, including cassock and overcoat. Should come with attached gloves though.
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BabyWombat
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Ah…. I too sometimes miss the amice; had to wear one with a traditional alb, etc. when sometime Sub Deacon years ago. I must admit though that the cassock-alb seems to fit more comfortably and looks less than the sack-of-potatoes-tied-in-the-middle I resembled in trad alb. However, I always purchase a cassock alb with attached hood, which I do still keep up while vesting, although few these days understand it as the signal it once was “I am in silence”.

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Albertus
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Alb, amice, etc require a certain amount of trouble to be taken and say 'can be bothered'. Cassock-albs are the equivalent of going to the shops in your onesie.
This is, actually, more or less what I think. But while cassock-albs would be on my list of things That I Will Do Away With When I Am Emperor of the West, they would not be very high up on it.

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Laurence
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This is something that I've always been confused by. Yes, there are hideous cassock albs, usually in odd 1970s shades and often ill fitting. And yes, the richness of vesting with girdle and amice under a chasuble is a beautiful thing.

But when worn without a chasuble, a properly fitted white cassock alb in decent material looks far better than the mass of bundled up crumples that is a traditional alb. And tbh when you're wearing a chasuble anyway, you can barely see much of the alb below, unless it's a really hyper fiddleback Roman cut.

Am I missing something here? Of all the liturgical things to be het up about, decent cassock albs (as opposed to the awful 70s style ones) seem very low down my list.

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Basilica
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quote:
Originally posted by Laurence:
(as opposed to the awful 70s style ones)

If you're in danger of tripping over your own sleeves, they are too long!
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leo
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I preach in three different services and travel to one of them by bus.

Cassock albs don't crease.

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Albertus
Shipmate
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That's because they have vast amounts of polyester in them. 'Nuff said.

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Albertus
Shipmate
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quote:
Originally posted by Laurence:
This is something that I've always been confused by. Yes, there are hideous cassock albs, usually in odd 1970s shades and often ill fitting. And yes, the richness of vesting with girdle and amice under a chasuble is a beautiful thing.

But when worn without a chasuble, a properly fitted white cassock alb in decent material looks far better than the mass of bundled up crumples that is a traditional alb. And tbh when you're wearing a chasuble anyway, you can barely see much of the alb below, unless it's a really hyper fiddleback Roman cut.

Am I missing something here? Of all the liturgical things to be het up about, decent cassock albs (as opposed to the awful 70s style ones) seem very low down my list.

Servers in albs & amices can look very smart- again, it comes down to taking trouble over it. But for a priest, why would you wear an alb without a chasuble? Proper full euchies or choir dress: two perfectly good alternatives.

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BabyWombat
Shipmate
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I must confess: I have two cassock-albs, both hooded. One is the type one puts on as an overcoat. It requires a cincture to look decent, but the cincture does serve the hold down the stole. The other is an over-the-head large monastic robe type, generously cut, wide sleeves, capacious hood, requires no cincture. I can move about, sit, stand, embrace at the peace, and it still looks tidy. Both work with full euchies, but in summer’s heat and humidity our parish custom is alb and stole.

This morning the monastic style one allowed for what some may think as indecorous, but for me felt like a bit of grace. We have only one young family in the congregation. They have a 3 year old daughter and a 4 month old son. The daughter was being playful this morning at the peace (I should explain: total congregation of 14 today – so exchanging the peace with everyone rather expected.). She is always eager to get a hug from me, and today squealed and crawled under a pew seat. I simply laid on my side in the carpeted aisle, popped my head around the bench support, waved and wished her the peace of God and got a rollicking giggle in return. Her mother laughed, her father laughed, our 96 year old matron laughed. I continued to exchange the peace with others. The cassock alb allowed me to pop back upright, and still look all pulled together.

And for all these blessings I give deep thanks!

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
But for a priest, why would you wear an alb without a chasuble? Proper full euchies or choir dress: two perfectly good alternatives.

Most of the churches around here don't have chasubles. 'Choir dress' implies at least three, possibly four, garments. Peripatetic priests such as myself find it much easier to carry cass-alb and stole rather than a whole wardrobe.
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Sober Preacher's Kid

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quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
I ran across this Facebook group today.
Sockety for the Elimination of the Cassock-Alb I'm pretty sure I've seen hatred for these vestments expressed in the past on these boards.

Can someone explain to me: 1) what is wrong with cassock-albs, 2) how the cassock-alb pictured on the above page is a combination of a cassock and and alb, 3) why this matters?

Is this Facebook poster a Shipmate, and if not, why the bloody hell not?

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Zappa
Ship's Wake
# 8433

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Cas-albs are fine. Bite me.

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Bishops Finger
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Yes, I wore one yesterday. With my Blue Scarf.

[Razz]

IJ

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Al Eluia

Inquisitor
# 864

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At church this Sunday I noticed our priest was wearing a cassock-alb. I mentioned the FB group that I referenced in the OP and she just shook her head and made a remark about the peripheral issues some people in the church get upset about.

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L'organist
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In theory there's nothing wrong with cassock albs: but the problems start with the design, fit and materials used in their making.

First up, who decided that what is essentially a slim-fit housecoat with central zip and a pointed hood was a good look for anyone? On small children they can look sweet - albeit like bleached elves - but on a portly adult its not a good look.

Second, why is it that cassock-albs are invariably off-white?

Third, why is it that, so far as I've seen, there is never any provision for a liturgically coloured collar piece to take the place of an amice? Surely it wouldn't be beyond the bounds of possibility for a cassock-alb to be designed with a set of changeable amice-type collar parts, attaching by velcro or similar.

The ONLY instance I've come across of a cassock-alb looking smart was at a church in London some years ago, where the incumbent wore a very smart looking garment and an amice. It turned out that he'd had a light-bulb moment when working in warmer climes and on his return to the UK put his plan into action: he ordered a white (and it was a definite white, not off-white or cream) cassock, double-breasted with a cross-over collar, putting his amice on straight over his shirt and then adjusting over the back of the collar of the cassock. It looked very good and showed up all the other cassock-albs as being rather nasty.

[ 24. July 2017, 15:11: Message edited by: L'organist ]

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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John Holding

Coffee and Cognac
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Come on. Everyone knows that the reason cassock albs are wrong is that they are new. Or at least, there were new when they came into use 40-50 years ago. But that's all.

If someone found a picture of Leo XIII or Pius IX wearing a cassock alb-like garment, the naysayers in the CofE (because so far as I know they live only in the CofE) would shut up at once. Because then they wouldn't have been "new".

John

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Enoch
Shipmate
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quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
At church this Sunday I noticed our priest was wearing a cassock-alb. I mentioned the FB group that I referenced in the OP and she just shook her head and made a remark about the peripheral issues some people in the church get upset about.

I'm sure, though, she really appreciated your raising this with her. [Razz]

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leo
Shipmate
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quote:
Originally posted by John Holding:
If someone found a picture of Leo XIII or Pius IX wearing a cassock alb-like garment, the naysayers in the CofE (because so far as I know they live only in the CofE) would shut up at once. Because then they wouldn't have been "new".

John

I think Archbishop Romero was martyred wearing one.

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Albertus
Shipmate
# 13356

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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
... why is it that, so far as I've seen, there is never any provision for a liturgically coloured collar piece to take the place of an amice? Surely it wouldn't be beyond the bounds of possibility for a cassock-alb to be designed with a set of changeable amice-type collar parts, attaching by velcro or similar.


That's exactly what I was thinking this morning. Time someone got the bright lads and girls at Wippell's top-secret research lab, deep in the Devon countryside, onto the case.

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Enoch
Shipmate
# 14322

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As a thicko as regards this things, and somebody who isn't really all that interested in vestments, I'm still none the wiser what the answer is to any of Al Elula's three questions in the OP.

If you remember, these were:-
quote:
Can someone explain to me: 1) what is wrong with cassock-albs, 2) how the cassock-alb pictured on the above page is a combination of a cassock and and alb, 3) why this matters?
Several people have said they can't see anything wrong with them. So far nobody has given any reason to disagree with that. The objections all seem to be of the 'dear Father Chantry-Pigg didn't like them and so now that he's dead, I feel obliged to preserve his foibles' variety.

Is it just that? Some of the objection seems to be visual, but if so, why? And it strikes me as suspicious that nobody has ventured a theological reason or even attempted to demonstrate that they are forbidden by canon law. Is this anything to do with arguments about what was worn when during the reign of Edward VI and to which part of his short reign legislation is referring? Or is it a reference in a footnote in something written by Percy Dearmer? Or what?

Could a shipmate please explain?

[ 25. July 2017, 15:17: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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Angloid
Shipmate
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Well of course they're not forbidden by canon law. Nothing is, these days. I suppose a nit-picky lawyer might argue that as a combination of cassock and alb they are not covered by the description 'alb'. Or that the law insists on cassock and surplice only (an ambiguity cleared up by General Synod a couple of generations ago).

You can't legislate for aesthetic quality or most skimpy surplices or naff chasubles would be illegal. So it's a question of function, and they seem to me to fulfil the function fine, of covering everyday clothes to express the minister's representative role.

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Albertus
Shipmate
# 13356

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I think l'organist has got it right: there may well be nothing wrong with the idea of a garment that combines the functions of a cassock and an alb, but in practice those of us who dislike them think they're, well, just not very smart, because they seem to be modelled on rather baggy hooded housecoats/ dressing gowns, and to be a peculiar shade of of-white (and, I'd add tho' I may be wrong, seem to have large amounts of polyester in them). A quick google images search suggests that cassock-albs with a more tailored look do seem to be available (although not, alas, with the detachable coloured amice effect that both l'o & I dreamt up independently of each other), and I for one think they're a great improvement on the baggy cream colour versions, but for some reason one rarely if ever seems to see them in the flesh.

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Brenda Clough
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That may be a function of laundering/age. It's a rare fabric that will stay crisp and white over many years.

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Pigwidgeon

Ship's Owl
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
That may be a function of laundering/age. It's a rare fabric that will stay crisp and white over many years.

Back in the 70s/80s most of them seemed to be "oatmeal" color (when new). Now most of the ones I see are white.

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Augustine the Aleut
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Aside from the general æsthetics of the cassock-alb, which is an entirely subjective issue, I have seen them morph into the Universal Clerical Garment™, replacing the cassock and surplice at gravesides and the saying of the offices.

Still, more recent versions seem to be better cut and of better material than in the 70s and 80s, and the mention of the possibility of apparelled cassock-albs suggests that all is not lost. My pagan niece was recently at a wedding where the grey-bearded priest was wearing a cassock-alb with dangling flowing sleeves, and I fear that she thought that he was imitating the Apostle Gandalf.

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Enoch
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Do I take it then, that the objections are just a matter of peoples' aesthetic preferences?

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Al Eluia

Inquisitor
# 864

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Do I take it then, that the objections are just a matter of peoples' aesthetic preferences?

Based on responses here so far, that seems to be the case. I've certainly seen some cassock-albs that looked better than others to me. The degree of animus against them in some quarters was what left me puzzled--as if they're some grave liturgical abuse, which maybe some people think they are.

[ 26. July 2017, 04:36: Message edited by: Al Eluia ]

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TomM
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There's still the second camp Basilica pointed to up thread as well, where the simplicity of putting on the cassock-alb becomes associated with an undemanding preparation.

Whilst there is certainly no necessity that it follows, speaking as a newly ordained deacon, there is something sacramental about taking the time to wash one's hands, tie on an amice, put on the alb, tie the cincture, add the stole and the dalmatic, with a prayer at each stage.

In the same way, there is no necessity to any of the sacraments of the Church, God can, by grace, offer salvation in any which way he chooses. But flesh-and-blood human beings need practices and customs - dare I say rituals and liturgies - to do things in.

Simplification can be a good thing, but it does need care that the baby is not still amongst the bath waters!

(ETA: For completeness, I do have an aesthetic objection to many cuts of cassock-alb too!)

[ 26. July 2017, 09:11: Message edited by: TomM ]

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