Colours used in worship

You might have noticed when you walk into church that all the cloth covering at the front have been changed. Suddenly, the purple has been replaced by gold, or the green that has been up front for months is now purple or blue.

Beginning in the 12th century, the colours were given assigned times and meanings. Black was for mourning, white was for holy celebrations, red was for Pentecost and saints days, purple was for penitential days of Advent and Lent with one pink Sunday in each to remember Mary, Jesus’ mother (Mothering Sunday in the UK is still the fourth Sunday in Lent), and green was for the rest of the year.

Over the centuries this scheme has been tweaked. Blue is now used for Advent in many churches to recognize we no longer see it as a time of penitence, and Gold is added in some places for Easter Sunday and perhaps Christmas morning.

Historically, for illiterate people, the colour changes helped them understand where they were in the year and what they could expect to hear from their worship leaders.

In today’s world, a colour change is often noticed by children who love the idea of ‘new’ and are energized by the change in the church season.

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