There are so many different liturgical vestments out there that it can be somewhat tough to distinguish between them all from time to time. Especially if you are an infrequent churchgoer, you can quickly get lost among the jungle of cassocks, robes, tunics and albs, stoles and tippets, rochets, and many other vestments. There are a lot of them, and what’s more, their accepted usage has varied significantly across time and by sect or denomination.
There are many of these, and one of them is the clergy surplice, which has seen a lot of use throughout history, serving different functions in different places at different times for both men and women. Generally speaking, the clergy surplice is a white garment that usually has a squared neckline, loose sleeves, and reaches to the midriff or just below it.
It can be all too easy to confuse a clergy surplice with an alb, which is another liturgical vestment that takes the form of a white garment. The chief difference between an alb and a surplice is in the length. Whereas a surplice is generally short, an alb tends to reach the ankle of the wearer. Sometimes a cincture, a type of belt, is worn wrapped around the alb.
A surplice is perhaps most often encountered as part of the liturgical dress of Anglican priests, who used to be required by English law to wear a surplice over a cassock and cincture. In this effect, it is common to encounter the term “cassock and surplice.” A cassock is a type of robe that is worn by priests leading worship, and a cincture is a belt that is paired with it. The surplice overlays the entire piece and is sometimes accompanied by a stole, which is a strip of cloth that lays over the shoulders of the person wearing it.
We got more involved than we intended to in the above section, so back to the matter at hand. Surplices are encountered in other situations other than as part of the vestment of a priest. Another situation in which you can find surplices in use is among church choir members. Oftentimes the surplice takes the place of choral robes. Occasionally choristers will wear a cassock and cincture, as an ordained person would, along with the surplice.
It is also not uncommon to find the surprise in use among altar servers, or even among lay people who are helping to lead or guide the worship. In that way, it has become a kind of universal vestment for a lot of different purposes. Suffice it to say it is one of the most frequently encountered pieces of liturgical apparel.
If you’re looking for a fine example of a clergy surplice, you can find one at Divinity Clergy Wear on their website, DivinityClergyWear.com. Their surplice is sized to fit both men and women and is made with lace integrated into the design. Check it out on their website and you will see for yourself that it is a fine representation of quality, like everything else on their website.
Considering that last statement, although you might be on the search for a clergy surplice, you’ll probably be impressed by everything else you find on their website. They offer a wide range of robes and other vestments ranging from the simplest black robes to the most audacious golden robe and stole sets. In other words, you’ll be able to find the clergy shirts and vestments you need for just about any worship at any time of the year, and all you have to do is visit their website. Check it out at DivinityClergyWear.com, and if you have any questions on the different vestments, call them at 877-453-3535.
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