Mission Center: The Episcopal Church: Community

‹‹ Return

Candles have extensive ceremonial use in the Christian liturgical tradition. Lighted candles may be seen to symbolize the light of Christ, or the light of the gospel, or simply to remind the congregation that the time and space for worship are sacred. Candles provide illumination that enhances the beauty of the church, and may provide additional light for worship. Candles may be carried in procession by acolytes, and held as the gospel is said or sung. Candles may be placed on the altar, or on a reredos behind the altar, or on pavement lights beside the altar. The BCP provides for the lighting of the altar candles at certain times in special services. At the Easter Vigil, the altar candles are lighted after the Renewal of Baptismal Vows and before the Easter Acclamation, "Alleluia. Christ is risen" (BCP, p. 204). Candles are lighted after the dedication of the altar by the bishop at the Consecration of a Church (BCP, p. 574). At the Order of Worship for the Evening, the lighting of the altar candles and other candles follows the Prayer for Light and precedes the hymn "O Gracious Light" (Phos hilaron). (BCP, p. 112). The BOS provides a variety of anthems (Lucernaria) at the candle lighting for optional use at the Order of Worship for the Evening, including seasonal anthems. Certain candles have special liturgical uses. The Paschal candle is a large, decorated candle that symbolizes the light of Christ who was crucified, died, rose, and ascended into heaven. It is lighted at the Easter Vigil, and at all services during the season of Easter. The Advent Wreath has four candles that represent the four Sundays of the season of Advent, and may also include a "Christ candle" that is lighted on Christmas Eve. A candle may be given to each of the newly baptized or a godparent after baptism. This candle may be lighted from the Paschal candle, and it serves as a reminder of baptism. Candles may be lighted and extinguished with a candle taper. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
Click here to order...


Resources »



ECCC Annual Conference
1/22/2012  - 1/27/2012    - Camp McDowell, AL

NAECED Annual Meeting and Tapestries Conference
2/2/2012  - 2/4/2012    - New Orleans, LA

Why Serve 2012
6/6/2012  - 6/10/2012    - Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA

More Events

Back to Top