The Church and Public Worship (pp 13-16)

“That brings me to another question,” said the Doctor. “Why do the minister and the choir wear vestments?”
Both the Rector and the Major began to reply.
“To show their ministry of prayer and praise,” began the Rector.
“Democratic!” urged the Major.
“That brings us to the second underlying principle of the Church,” interrupted the Rector. “The Episcopal Church is democratic. The world over it serves all sorts and conditions of men. It has the same services and ministers in the same way to rich and poor, fortunate and unfortunate. It brings the universal spiritual satisfactions to the universal needs of our common human nature.”
“But how are vested choirs democratic?” asked the Doctor.
“Nothing so democratic as a uniform,” answered the Major. “Variety in uniform shows distinctive duties, but all uniforms are democratic. One minister is not clothed in fine broadcloth and another in homespun. All wear the simple vestments of their rank. Choristers too! Many a person would be kept out of a choir by lack of proper cloths if choirs were not in uniform. Nothing so distracting as a mixed choir in a denominational church. Twenty different kinds of hats, as many kinds of cravats. Whole scheme of unvested choirs too formal and aristocratic. Our method much simpler and democratic. Admits persons who would be excluded if fine clothes were a requirement.”
“That is so,” granted the Doctor. “Curiously, I had the opposite impression. I thought the vested choir was the height of form and very aristocratic.”
“All wrong,” affirmed the Major. “Most democratic scheme for singers ever devised. No form whatsoever. Just a band of plain people, properly garbed, singing the praises of God in the Church. Most reverent too. Nothing so irreverent as finery in the Church. Too distracting. Too self-approving…”
…”That opens up the subject of the general sensitivities of human beings,” began the Judge. “They are just as sensitive in their spiritual natures. You like to have your patients in a cheerful mood, do you not, Doctor?”
“Surely. Most necessary!” answered the Doctor.
“The Church likewise desires to impress the people with the cheerfulness of religion. But you do administer medicine, Doctor.”
“It helps,” was the Doctor’s comment.
“The Church must administer its truth and healing power, too. It has proper seasons for every phase of its teachings We use different colors to suggest the general nature of the season. Last Sunday we used white… symbolic color of joy. We use also purple, green, and red. Each is suggestive of the particular truths which are being impressed in lesson and sermon. Nature has taught us that are.”
“You can’t go wrong in following Nature,” said the Doctor.
“Quit right. And human nature too. Those who think the Episcopal Church is artificial are entirely mistaken. It is as natural as Nature herself. The Church through long experience has learned what human natures craves. Beauty, warm associations, pleasant environment, gracious clinging memories, forms of sound words, bright pictures for the mind, suggestions of spiritual mysteries, acts of personal worship, habits of reverence, a consciousness of a great Household in which cluster great ideals, the knowledge of the riches of the past brought to the heart of the present; all these things make the abiding impressions that fill the worshiper with feelings that never depart. The member of the Episcopal Church who feels these things never leaves this household. Religion to him would seem barren, ever after, without the riches and associations of the Church to enforce the lessons and deepen his sense of spiritual things.”
[The Episcopal Church: Its Message for Men of Today, George Parkin Atwater; New York: Morehourse-Gorham Co., 1950; 6-12.]
more to come…
My, how things have changed! Although, I do think there is truth in many of the things being emphasized above.