Servitas in Cultu
Cultus per Servitatem
What is a "Verger"?
One of the esoteric, and frankly powerful remnants of medieval times in the liturgical worship of the Anglican Communion is the office of verger. Posted above is a photo of one of the best. It is a picture of the legendary Charles Agneau, Head Verger of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco taken not long before his death at age 76.
What is a verger?
David Jette, the retired President of the Verger's Guild of the Episcopal Church spoke to a group of vergers in training: "Basically, a verger is God's butler." The office of verger can be as simple as a ceremonial office to lead processions within the church. Or, it can be as complicated as being the overseeing officer, Sargent-at Arms, instructor and head of all of the subordinate guilds within a cathedral church.
Just as a Head Butler was in charge of all the servants within a Georgian/Victorian household, so a verger is in charge of all the servants who keep the liturgical dance in pace and cadence and alive with reverential vigor within the Anglican Church.
He or she serves the priest or cathedral dean or the bishop, making certain that their needs are met, that the altar guild and acolytes and ushers and choir are all trained and prepared to serve. This allows the ordained ministers to concentrate on their priestly and pastoral duties while the great dance of the liturgy flows around them, supporting them and lifting up their position as God's chosen priests.
Originally, the verger carried a mace to keep unruly and/or drunken congregants, choir members in line and to help remove errant livestock from the sanctuary. He would keep watch over the expensive books and bibles, gold and silver altar adornments. Usually, he was a retired military man, well versed in the art of combat and maintaining order. His mace was not ornamental....it was a weapon.
The contemporary office of Sargent-at-Arms within the US Congress or the British Parliment is the outgrowth of the office of Verger within the Church.
Yours truly, 1st Sunday after Christmas,
Martyrdom of Holy Innocents
I serve as verger in our small congregation at St. James, Wheat Ridge. My post is second in ceremonial and liturgical importance. Only our Rector or priest-in-charge holds more authority. He is ordained and can perform all of the sacraments outlined in the Canon Law of the Anglican Communion. Although I am highly skilled and trained in all of the liturgal nuances and canon law, I am not ordained. Therefore, I cannot perform baptisms, marriages, bless and sanctify Eucharistic elements, sacred oils or holy water.
OH yes!....and what does the latin above mean?
"Service in Worship and Worship through Service."