Golden Oldies

I notice that some have been searching for “english altar”. Here are some liturgy files in my website that some might find of interest:

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9 Responses to Golden Oldies

  1. Rubricarius says:

    Golden Oldies they may be – but still very interesting and apposite. Although I must confess my own dislike of fiddlebacks!

    • If I was making my vestments now, I would do them in Gothic style. But, I made my vestments at a time when I saw things in a different way – including my 5 years in the Institute of Christ the King. Indeed, I haven’t much use for lace these days.

  2. Fr. William says:

    Dear Father, I have long admired your aesthetic as well as your carpentry skills. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a “temporary” altar without requiring extensive building? I have seen traditional priests use fold-out tables when they celebrate in hotel conference rooms, but these have a lack of dignity. They also lack height and are not sturdy. Anything that you can suggest is most appreciated!

    • An altar needs to be 95 cm or 37 1/2 inches in height for comfort, give or take the extra half inch. A practical depth, or distance from front to back, is 71 cm or 28 inches. This allows for the candlesticks and altar cross (and a tabernacle if you use the Roman style) and a large corporal. For the length, 160 cm or 63 inches would be a minimum unless you are a “cubic altar purist”. It can be a little longer (wider from end to end, whichever way you look at it ;)).

      The simplest temporary arrangement is a piece of plywood of 1 inch thickness (for rigidity) and you can cut out a hole with a jig-saw for your altar stone. Front edge of the altar stone (if you have one) is about 2-3 inches from the front. An alternative is a Greek antimension. For the Latin (Anglican) rite, the antimension goes under the top altar cloth.

      You then need a support for the altar top to make the height of 37 1/2 inches. Hardware stores sell X-shaped trestles of adjustable height. You can use one or two or them – be careful of the stability of your altar. An alternative is a plywood box of the right height (one inch less for the thickness of the altar top).

      Get someone with a sewing machine to run up an altar frontal (antependium) of rich cloth with stiffener and lining. Use this simple example for inspiration. That gives the impression of a solid altar, and tradition has it that the altar should always be covered.

      Put a rug in front of the altar to give the impression of a footpace. It can all be put up and taken down in seconds or minutes, and loaded into a vehicle (a small van rather than a car).

  3. Fr. William says:

    This is a wonderful idea, Father. I knew that you would think of something suitable. Truth be told, I have used an unembellished door set upon two sawhorses. However, it is very cumbersome because the door is so heavy. Thank you for taking the time to describe this method!!

    • One can also obtain fold-up tables which adjust to a good height and which present a decent appearance when covered completely with an altar cloth. Also, when the table being used will not go high enough, when can place things like cinder blocks under the legs. Again, these are covered by the altar cloth.

      • It’s a question of practicalities and doing what you can do. The advantage of having a piece of plywood cut at your hardware store seems the most practical is that it is a fixed size (63 x 28 inches), but it is not easy to transport. Perhaps something hinged in two parts, but there has to be some device to stop it folding when it is being used as an altar. Tables can fall of cinder blocks, but a possibility is wooden blocks with “lips” to stop the table legs sliding off. My dining room table is 30 inches high, which I assume to be standard. As I recommend an altar to be 37 1/2 inches (or 38 to give a round number), then the four blocks need to be 7 1/2 to 8 inches high. If the width of the table is known, then you can have two long blocks, one for each end of the table, and they are easily transportable.

        To make the blocks, make plywood boxes, which are glued with PVA white glue and nailed with panel pins. Do a drawing to work out your dimensions and don’t forget to take thicknesses into account. A surface is glued and panel pinned on. Then you make the “lips” with pieces of wood, square section and half an inch by half an inch. Glue and nail with panel pins. If you are afraid of splitting the wood, drill pilot holes.

        In these conditions, you can use a wooden table, but you might be limited by the length. Frankly, I prefer the method I recommended.

  4. Little Black Sambo says:

    The articles called “Things to Make and Do” in Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia often began, “Purchase two orange boxes from your greengrocer for a few pence”.

    • Just my generation! I spent my whole childhood making things and adapting whatever I could get hold of to fulfil dreams. One thing I most remember was fitting up an old tricycle with a broomstick mast and a sail fashioned from an old bedsheet. I must have been 10 or 11 at the time. I came from a family of four kids, and we took great pride in making do rather than having everything made and ready from the shops so that money would be everything in life.

      That is still my way now, except at a different level.

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