Ecclesiastical Glossary

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Each page contains all the entries for a single letter of the alphabet. Use the page controls at the bottom of each page to navigate: 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, etc.


baguette The plain or decorated molding of wood across the top of a dossal, or suspended from a cornice to enhance the beauty of the dossal.

banner For procession. Banners embroidered or appliqued with sacred symbols are sometimes carried in church processions. Banners used as hangings may be colored to display the time of the Christian Church Year, and the symbols to represent the events in the life of Christ or the life of the church.

banns The proclamation of a couple’s intended marriage in the church.

Baptism, Holy A sacrament instituted by Christ (Matthew 28: 19–20) for the remission of sin and regeneration by water and the Word of God. In Baptism, one is incorporated into the Body of Christ, that is the fellowship of the Church.

baptismal bowl A removable metal or crystal bowl sitting into the baptismal font and holding the water used for baptism.

baptismal font A stand or pedestal, either of stone or wood, containing a basin or bowl for the water used for baptism. Traditional Lutheran fonts are eight-sided.

baptismal robe A ceremonial garment of white given to the newly baptized to signify that all their sins have been cleansed in the waters of Holy Baptism.

baptistery A place set aside for the baptismal font, usually a side or ante-room.

basilica A church structure built in the style of an ancient oblong Roman hall, often with the apse at one end and the narthex at the other.

B.C. Before Christ (see ‘A.D.’). While ‘A.D.’ comes before the date, ‘B.C.’ comes after the date, ex. one writes ‘A.D. 2013 but ‘242 B.C.’

Beatitudes Latin beatitudo, ‘happiness’, ‘blessedness’. Christ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3–11); a Canticle embodying Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount.

belfry The area or room containing the church bells, usually in an arch, a steeple, or a bell tower.

bell A bell is used to to ring from tower or steeple as an invitation to come to the house of the Lord at the beginning of the worship service. A chime or carillon of bells sends music and hymns of the church out over the community and reminds of priority of the things of God over the things of man.

Benedicamus (Domino) Latin ‘Let us bless [the Lord]’. An exhortation to praise and thanksgiving which was an ancient formula of dismissal.

Benediction Latin ‘[The Lord] bless [you]’. The blessing of God which is ‘put upon’ the worshipers at the close of the Divine Service;he Aaronic Blessing (Numbers 6:24–26) is commonly used in connection with Holy Communion, while the Apostolic Blessing (2 Corinthians 13:14) is used at Matins, Vespers, and at other times.

Benedictus (Dominus) Latin ‘Blessed be [the Lord]. The title of the Canticle which is the Song of Zachariah (Zacharias), Luke 2:68–80. Appointed for use in Matins.

betrothal A mutual contract spoken between the bride and the groom during the marriage rite; to give one’s troth means to speak a vow or “truth”; a pledge of faithfulness each to the other.

Bible, The Holy The inspired and recorded Word of God; the sacred literature of the Christian Church containing 39 Old Testament books, and 27 New Testament books.

Bidding Prayer An exhortatory prayer said by the ministers in a preaching service, a service of prayer or supplication, and the Good Friday service; it may also take the place of the Prayer of the Day during the Divine Service.

bier The carriage or frame upon which a coffin is place in the church or funeral home, or borne to a grave or a vault.

boat From the Latin, navicula. A vessel used for carrying incense for use in the censer as needed.

bobeche A saucer of glass or metal with a hole in the center which fits over a candle and slides to the bottom to catch the melted wax drippings.

Book of Remembrance A book, usually kept in the narthex or vestibule of the church in which are permanently recorded memorial gifts to the church.

bowing An expression of reference to Christ; one bows when the name of Christ is spoken in the doxology, gloria, creed; one bows at the name “Jesus,” and before the cross of Christ on altars and in processionals (Philippians 2:10).

Bread Box A covered container, usually of silver, for holding the wafers for the Eucharist. See pyx and ciborium.

Bread Plate A plate, usually of gold, silver, or brass, from which the participants in the Sacrament of the Altar are served the host. See paten.

bulletin A printed folder which has information about the worship service, announcements for the parish, and messages from the pastor.

burse The square envelope or purse which is made to contain the corporal and purificators used in the celebration of Holy Communion. It is placed over the vested chalice on the altar. It is usually of the same material and color as the chalice veil.

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