Thursday, October 27, 2011

Of Albs and their Accessories

The Alb is the foundational vestment of liturgical ministry. Lay people, deacons, priests, and bishops all wear the alb when leading in the liturgy. You've seen it in seminary: white, close fitting garment usually with a rope girdle or cincture belting it.

Concelebration alb
There are different sorts of albs. The most common these days, I think, are cassock-albs. These wrap around like Sarum ("Anglican") cassocks and have snaps at both shoulders. I've heard that they're an invention of the CM Almy company, who still make them for men and women. You might get them with or without small inserts of lace.

Then there are various sorts of "monastic-style" or "concelebration" albs which are a little fuller in the cut. They are styled, I think, on monastic habits and the sleeves are generally huge. The collar is often hood or roll-neck.

The Amice
The most traditional form of alb is like a slim-cut surplice, and is worn with an amice. The amice is a rectangle of cloth with ribbons that goes around the neck and shoulders underneath the alb. The alb then has a slightly wider neck on it, because the amice is taking care of covering the wearer's neck and shoulders. This alb closes with buttons. This alb (which I own) closes with a tie.

Lots of companies make albs, and practically any of the companies that sell ecclesiastical wear will have some sort of alb for sale. Almy seems to be the standard cassock-alb maker, or at least I see their stuff in plenty of sacristy closets. If you want to go the traditional alb & amice route, you can try Gaspard, or Watts and Co. or Wippell. The Benedictines of Mary seem to make them, too. You can also Google "abbey brand alb style 55" and see all the Catholic church supply places that sell that model.

What I have:

  1. Almy Rolled-Collar contemporary alb. I wear this one for times when I'm not wearing a chasuble. I have a big neck, so I like the loose fit around the neck with this one. 
  2. Gaspard traditional "pull-over" style alb, along with a Gaspard linen amice and cincture.

Gaspard traditional alb
Almy Rolled-Collar contemporary alb

1 comment:

  1. I wear (usually) amice and alb (both which I purchased at J. R. Evans-- Good quality stuff! I find it helpful to pray all the vesting prayers; english or latin as I prepare to celebrate the Mass. I need that humility and protection.

    If you're looking for a cassock, cincture, surplice, biretta, zuchetta, mozetta... etc.(made to fit) which will last you your life here on this earth... may I suggest Renzetti Magnarelli in Philadelphia ( Expensive (not more than Wippells) but forever if you care for them.