Christmas, 2008/9

procession - solemn

This week at work, I learned about the solemn procession.

I have to admit, this was not something I was aware of, but they exist -- and yes, they are more solemn than just walking in from the back. And no, you don't walk twice as slow.

So, rather than just processing in from the back, you actually begin the procession from the altar.

The liturgical customary of Church of the Advent (Boston) confirms this liturgical act in their notes on their solemn procession.

To help you picture the procession, they enter from the liturgical north side, which, as you are facing the altar, is to the left. (N.B. If you don't have a door on the north side, you shouldn't try to enter that way.) Then they head to the altar.

Before the procession itself, they do a bit of censing here at the altar, and then they "bid the procession", which isn't actually that uncommon. Most parishes bid the procession at least once a year: Palm Sunday.

Deacon       Let us go forth in peace.
People        In the name of Christ. Amen.

BCP, 271

Just a note here, the deacon says "us", which is not a clerical "us" the way I read it. It's a liturgical us. Whether or not your feet are moving, the procession marks everyone's journey to a place "before the presence of God".

Now, let's assume that you have two sections of seating with a center aisle. And frankly, who wouldn't? This arrangement is so hot right now. Let's also assume that you're still facing the altar. And frankly, why wouldn't you be? Looking back into the narthex is really frowned upon, especially by Nigerian bishops.

Assuming the above, the solemn procession snakes from the altar

These descriptions always sound dumb. I tried taking out the cardinal directions, and still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Really, it's just a series of right hand turns. Here's a map:

In Anglican parlance, this is known as a pretzel.

Yes, we borrowed that term from the Lutherans.

No, you can't get a free sample like you do at the mall.

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