Why did the Gospel book move?

a liturgical note from Fr. James Arcadi, Presiding Priest

I received the question, “Why did the Gospel book move?” The answer is part pragmatics and part tradition, which emerged from a series of questions that I asked.

The first question I asked was, “Can we put the sacred vessels on the altar for the entirety of the service?” That is a very traditional Anglican thing to do. It is sort of like when you go to a really fancy restaurant and the tables are already set with plates and glasses and silverware. The response I got was “That sounds great and we have these veil sets as well!”

But then, we have a relatively small altar. It indeed has its own beauty and charm to it, but it is smaller and squarer than average. So, it got kind of crowded on the altar with the vessels, and the Gospel book ended up blocking the view of the vessels. We tried to lay the Gospel flat in the center, but that didn’t look good because one couldn’t see the lovely front cover.

Then I asked a second question, “Can we get a smaller stand for the Gospel book so it can rest in its traditional location?” A traditional Anglican altar is set up with (looking from the Nave): the Gospel on the far left (the “North” side of the altar . . . because all altars face “liturgical East” toward Jerusalem and the rising sun), the dressed vessels in the middle, and the missal or altar book on the far right side (the “South” side of the altar).

Then, instead of buying a stand, Brad Cathey (as Brad Cathey is wont to do) said, “I’ll just make a stand for the Gospel book.” I asked a third question, “Can you make a missal stand to match?” And, ta-da! We have an All Souls-made altar set up that continues the All Souls appropriation of traditional Anglican forms.