Glossary of terms

This section lists some common words and terms used in the Church of England. Cclick on the first letter of the word and a list of words beginning with that letter will appear. Click on more.. for that word for an explanation.  This will open a separate window with the description and, in some cases, an image.


Candles are used frequently in our churches and they are full of meanings, such as:

  • the light of life
  • hope - the light shining in the darkness
  • fragility of life..how easily life can be snuffed out
  • burning love Candles are lit in the sanctuary before the service; and they are often carried in processions.
  • Votive candles are on the pricket stand and are lit by individuals for the offering of special prayers.
  • At Advent we have a special candle for each of the 4 Sundays for Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
  • At Candlemas (February 2nd) we light candles to commemorate the carrying of the child Jesus into the Temple
  • the True Light.
  • At Easter we light the Paschal Candle - a symbol of the Resurrection - with 5 knobs pressed into the candle to represent the 5 wounds of our Lord.


Within the C of E there are generally two types of canon:

  • Residentiary Canon: he/she will be one of the permanent staff at the cathedral with a specific responsibility and membership of the cathedral chapter (ruling committee)
  • Non-residentiary Canon: will be a priest with a specific role in the diocese.

Within this group there are also honorary canons who are given such a title as a way of thanking them for all they have contributed through their ministry and we have Canon John as an example.



The original word was 'caracella' and it was the everyday working garment for the priest. Often lined with sheepskin or fur to keep out the cold. A long black garment reaching almost to the ground. Bishops usually wear purple cassocks. Readers and choirmen also wear cassocks.



The cup to hold the wine consecrated at the Eucharist - the oldest Chalice at St Margaret's dates back to 1568 and is kept in the Treasury at Chichester Cathedral.


That part of a church situated between the nave and the altar at the east end of the church.  Usually the Vicar's stall and choir stalls are placed within the chancel.  At the Eucharist service, the servers will have seats within the chancel.



From the Latin 'casula' meaning 'little house' and represents Christian protection and love. It is the outer garment; it matches in colour the high altar frontal and is usually beautifully embroidered.


There are two Choirs to be seen in the Beacon Parish:

  • St Margaret's Choir: the only robed choir and sings mostly at Ditchling on a Sunday by Sunday basis and at weddings, funerals and other special occasions. Led by John Sandford. Church choirs are comparatively new in the history of our churches. They emerged in late Victorian times as congregational singing became more widespread. The old village bands and singers were replaced by more formal choirs who took their places in the choir stalls in the chancel. Previously, certainly at Ditchling, the singers would have been in the gallery at the west end of the church and the chancel would have been occupied by the congregation.
  • The Jubilee Choir: which was established in Streat and Westmeston and sings at concerts and other occasions including special services in Streat or Westmeston churches.  This choir and St Margaret's occasionally join forces for special services such as the Christmas Carol service in Ditchling.


There have been churchwardens in our three churches for nearly a thousand years. This ancient office was originally created to enable the bishop to keep an eye on his parish clergy! The churchwarden thus became known as the bishop's 'ears and eyes'.

Their extensive role in general parish matters diminished with the development of local government in the late 19th Century, but, within parish church matters, they still have important responsibilities. They are the key members of the laity, working with the Vicar to ensure the smooth running of the parish and the effective provision for worship. They are responsible for the fabric and possessions of the church and, when there is a vacancy in the parish, they have a major role in maintaining the life of the church.

The churchwardens' staves date back to the time when they had responsibility for keeping the congregation in order. Apparently, they still have the power to remove a gentleman's hat if he continues to wear it in church and its return can only be made at the end of the service! Our present churchwardens - elected annually - are listed inside the front cover of the Beacon parish magazine.



Similar shape to the chalice but with a lid. Used to hold the wafers consecrated at the Eucharist.

Clerical collar


What remains of the white ruff that graduates of Oxford and Cambridge were entitled to wear. In those days all clergy had to be graduates.


Clerk in Holy orders/Clergy: applies to all people ordained for religious service. (see Parson, Reverend, Father, Vicar) In a Team Ministry the most senior priest is known as the Team Rector. Our Vicar, alias Father David, answers to all these titles: Clerk, Parson, Reverend, Father, Vicar.


This is a prayer said publicly by the congregation and asking for forgiveness. It is said soon after the start of all major services - Eucharist, Morning and Evening Prayer and is followed by The Absolution.


We say two creeds at our services. Both are statements of what we believe as Christians and the word 'creed' comes from the Latin word 'credo', meaning 'I believe'. On Sundays, at Morning and Evening Prayer, we say the !Apostles Creed] which dates back possibly as far as the first or second century AD. It was thought by the early church to summarise the teaching of the apostles. At the Eucharist we say the !Nicene Creed] which dates from the fourth century and includes important statements about the nature of our Lord. It was felt important to establish that Jesus was both man and God, fully human and fully divine.



Vessels of glass - one to hold the unconsecrated wine and one the water. These are brought to the altar at the Eucharist.