The Colors of Worship at Hamline Church

At Hamline Church, we follow the standard liturgical color calendar as practiced by many Christian denominations. Most apparent in the textile hangings in the chancel area at the front of the sanctuary, the colors reveal the symbolic context of the season. As with the other art at Hamline Church, these were designed by a Minnesota artist for the specific place.

Textile artist Mary Temple brings the re-creation of light and play of colors to her work. As a member of the congregation, she noted that eyes are drawn to the intricacy of the wood carving at the back of the chancel and the spectacular stained glass window above. Installation of the organ pipes in the early 1970s added to that visual draw. Temple’s plans were intended to pull attention down to the cross on the altar.

Temple designed a unique set for each season, with a dossal hanging for the rear wall of chancel, an altar frontal plus hangings for the pulpit and lectern. She says, “I would like my weavings to enhance the worship experience for those who gather, a possible point of focus as they drift, dream, meditate or pray.”

The Christian Calendar

The Christian Calendar has two cycles forming the liturgical structure and centered on the major church holidays: Christmas and Easter. Each cycle includes a time for preparation, a festival season, and what is called ordinary time focused on growth.

Advent is the first season of the liturgical year, beginning four Sundays before Christmas. Our hangings are blue signifying hope. The lighting of the candles in our Advent wreath in our worship services symbolizes the light to come at Christmas.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, the light of the world. The early church selected the winter solstice as the date for Christmas, as that is when the days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere, bringing more light to the world. Our hangings are white with the colors of refracted light. They are used until the twelfth day or Epiphany, celebrating the coming of the wise men and for the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

Ordinary Time follows, a period of growth with no special church holidays. It is a time of renewal, rebirth, and regeneration of our spiritual lives, individually and as a congregation. Our hangings are winter green, with bare trees promising the spring to come.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for forty days in memory of Jesus’s fasting in the desert tempted by Satan. Lent prepares us for Holy Week. Traditionally our hangings are removed to remember Good Friday, when He was crucified. Our hangings are purple, representing both royalty and penitence.

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, lasting fifty days beginning with Easter Sunday and ending with Pentecostthe birth of the church through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our hangings for the Easter season are white and change to red for Pentecost.The white and red hangings are sometimes used for special Sundays or celebrations.

A second set of liturgical colors is now hung in the east transept with an altar frontal used in the chapel. This set was created by Phyllis Waggoner with Marimekko fabrics for the Church of the Good Shepherd, one of the predecessor congregations of Hamline Church. This image shows both cycles hanging on the balcony rail at the former Church of Good Shepherd sanctuary.

You may note two slight differences between this set and those used in the Hamline Church chancel:

  • the white hangings used for Christmastide have white ribbons attached and those used for Eastertide have yellow ribbons: the tapestry set uses the same set for both celebrations; and
  • the same green hangings are used for both periods of Ordinary time in this set: there are separate tapestry sets for the two periods in the chancel.