The Christmas season is typically filled with bright colours and bright lights as we adapt to the shorter, darker days of Winter. For one Sunday in particular - the third of Advent - one colour certainly stands out, though: the rose of Gaudete Sunday. Taking a short detour from the purple of Advent, Gaudete Sunday is a day of eager anticipation as the coming of Jesus approaches. Most importantly, it is a colour of joy, as the day is meant for rejoicing.
A Chasuble in our Rose ‘Comper Van der Weyden’, with orphreys of Gold ‘Gothic.’
The rarest of liturgical colours, rose is used on only two Sundays of the year, Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent. Some parishes, through choice or budget constraints, may bypass this seemingly indulgent addition to their sacristy, but the symbolism of the rose vestments is an ancient and beautiful one.
Rose (not to be confused with pink), is worn on the 3rd Sunday of Advent and the 4th Sunday of Lent. In Advent, the usual liturgical colour is purple and has a twofold significance: it is not only the traditional colour of penance, but is also the colour of royalty. From the first Sunday of Advent, the Church in her liturgy awaits the arrival of the Saviour, the King of Kings.
This longing is temporarily eased by a glimpse of fulfilment and a surge of hope and joy on Gaudete Sunday, also known as ’Rose Sunday’: the opening prayer of the mass urges all people to rejoice: Gaudete! Indeed the Introit, repeating the words of St Paul to the Philippians, is most insistent: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice’. And as a visual cue to emphasise this joy, the penitential purple is lightened to rose. The world’s wait is coming to an end. Christmas is near.
Though infrequently shown, the rose vestments that Watts & Co. have made over the years have been striking. Often incorporating floral motifs or patterns, the pieces relish in a joie de vivre as we celebrate the life that is approaching.
This chasuble, made with the ‘Florence’ brocade in rose, makes the joy of Gaudete Sunday (and Laetare) ever apparent with the gold-embroidered orphreys. The Comper Purple ‘Bellini’ featured as a pillar orphrey reminds us of the preparation the Advent season is all about.
This cope, from our archives, features an embroidered hood of the York and Lancaster rose. Such a rich shade of pink stands out against the cold of winter, and the vibrancy of the roses signal life in a previously dark season.
As Christmas approaches, Gaudete Sunday reminds us what the season is all about: the joy of life as Jesus is born into the world. Even in the snow, Gaudete initiates a feeling of warmth at the prospect of what is to come. So, Rejoice!