From time to time, discussions comes up on various Blogs about the colour of vestments to be used for Funeral Liturgies. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal sets down that purple (violaceus) vestments should be worn, but black or white vestments may be used where it is customary. For the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, black vestments are to be used.
Of course, it has become commonplace throughout much of the Church that white vestments are the standard fare for funerals. Here, I don't wish to comment on the arguments for and against this usage (though it is a practice I personally dislike).
Instead, I would like to comment that if white vestments are to be used for funerals, they should be decidely different from Festal vestments. Rather than being ornamental, they should be restrained, even sombre: characterised by simplicity. The Holy Rood Guild supplies such white sets as a standard fare: a simple cream-coloured chasuble, ornamented with orphreys of dark purple. They supply a funeral pall to match.
At the moment, the Saint Bede Studio is working on a project to develop a chasuble for Funeral liturgies that is white, but decorated in black and gold. For this design, the use of black is very limited, so that there is not a clash of extremes. I also feel it is important to highlight that such sets of vestments are not intended for festal use, by making them of plain fabrics (wool, unbleached linen or raw silk), rather than a brocade or damask.
A photograph of the completed vestment will be posted on this Blog in the next several weeks.