Cross with Thurible


Subject: Thurible

Inscription: “Let My Prayer Be Set Forth In Thy Sight As The Incense”

Donor:  Wellington Wallace and Victoria Stevens Wallace

Maker/Date: Charles Hogeman, Easter, 1908

Description: The scripture is from Psalm 141:2. “Let My Prayer Be Set Forth In Thy Sight As The Incense”

David under suspicion, half afraid to speak lest he should speak unadvisedly while trying to clear himself; David slandered and beset by enemies; David censured even by saints, and taking it kindly; David deploring the condition of the godly party of whom he was the acknowledged heard: David waiting upon God with confident expectation. The Psalm is one of a group of four, and it bears a striking likeness to the other three. In its commencement the psalm is lighted up with the evening glow as the incense rises to heaven; then comes a night of language whose meaning we cannot see; and this gives place to morning light in which our eyes are unto the Lord.

“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense.” As incense is carefully prepared, kindled with holy fire, and devoutly presented unto God, so let my prayer be. We are not to look upon prayer as easy work requiring no thought. It needs to be “set forth”; what is more, it must be set forth “before the Lord, “by a sense of his presence and a holy reverence for his name: neither may we regard all supplication as certain of divine acceptance, it needs to be set forth before the Lord “as incense, “concerning the offering of which there were rules to be observed, otherwise it would be rejected of God.

Techniques:  The Wallace windows use similar glass around center symbols arranged in five rows of stone with the central theme in the middle. Surrounding the symbol are two concentric circles of stones. Within each row are different shapes of glass. The effect is traditional without any special treatment of the glass or painting

Symbol: Thurible

thurible is a metal  suspended from chains, in which  is burned during services

The workings of a thurible are quite simple. Burning charcoal is inside the metal. This may be done several times during the service as the incense burns quite quickly. Once the incense has been placed on the charcoal the thurible is then closed and used for censing.

Traditionally, at High Mass, the following rule is observed when censing, which differs from the common Roman Rite:

  • Three sets of triple swings: When censing the
  • Three sets of double swings: When censing images, relics, and other sacramentals, also when censing the celebrant.
  • Two sets of double swings: When censing a Deacon.
  • One set of double swings: When censing a Sub-Deacon.
  • Three sets of single swings: When censing the congregation

The thurifer follows the verger and precedes the cross and tapers, carrying the thurible in the left hand and the small metal container, Latin navicula, which holds the supplies of incense in the right hand. The thurifer should match the pace of the verger, being mindful to keep a distance of at least two pews. When there is no verger, the thurifer leads the procession. The Celebrant then censes the altar on which the Eucharist is to be offered, in the following form (at a Nave Altar):

  • After venerating the altar, the Priest receives the thurible from the server at the North end of the altar.
  • The Priest circles the altar, making small movements in the thurible, in an anti-clockwise direction until s/he reaches the west side of the altar, facing east.
  • The Priest then makes three sets of triple swings towards the east, then continues around the altar to his/her original position facing west.

This same pattern is followed when censing the altar at the offertory, with the following prequel:

  • The Priest makes 6 swings (3+3) over the gifts, making the sign of the cross.
  • The Priest then makes 3 circles, two counter-clockwise and one clockwise, over and around the gifts.

At the Gospel, the deacon (or whoever is reading the Gospel) censes following the introduction to the Gospel (i.e.: Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to… ) using three sets of double swings, one set South, one set North, and one set west.

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