About Chairs

Interesting article on the history of the chair.  Apparently, they are not so historically universal as we would think.  As many a pastor has tried to point out, pews are a recent innovation in the church. As Aidan Kavanagh wrote, “Pews are never mentioned in Roman rubrics, nor is there any record that being without pews has ever killed Christians in significant numbers.”

One thing missing from his article is that the name “cathedral” means chair.  The Cathedra was the seat of the bishop.  That is, there is a chair in the front reserved for the bishop.  The Cathedral was the building housing the Cathedra.  My first parish (English District) had two chairs in the front, one on each side of the altar.  I assume that one was for the pastor, and the other reserved for the bishop (The English District word for “District President”), should he attend.  I was never able to determine which chair (left or right) was to be reserved for him.

My current parish has movable seating in the front.  There are also two chairs, but the second is for the acolyte, when we have one.  No reserved chair for the bishop.  But then, no bishop, either.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to About Chairs

  1. carlvehse says:

    Immediately prior to the quote provided in the thread’s first paragraph, Yale professor of liturgics and Benedictine monk Aidan Kavanagh (1929-2006), had this example of purple prose in his book, Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style (Liturgical Press, 1990, p. 21-2):

    “Pews, which entered liturgical place only recently, nail the assembly down, proclaiming that the liturgy is not a common action but a preachment perpetrated upon the seated, an ecclesiastical opera done by virtuosi for a paying audience. Pews distance the congregation, disenfranchise the faithful, and rend the assembly. Filling a church with immoveable pews is similar to placing bleachers directly on a basketball court. It not only interferes with movement but changes the event into something entirely different.”

    One wonders if Aidan would have allowed electricity, HVAC, and vestments made with more than one type of material into churches.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s