Concise Lexicon of Christianity

Ken Collins’ Website

Teachings, worship, rites, sermons, and terminology

Cassock, Surplice, and Stole

Notice my stiff, uncomfortable facial expressions. You can see that it’s good I have other skills, because I obviously have no future as a model. I took these pictures myself with a time delay on the shutter.

First, we see a picture of a cassock:

Picture of me wearing a cassock
A plain cassock. It can also be worn without the clergy collar by anyone who leads worship, including lay people.

A Roman cassock has buttons or snaps down the front. An Anglican cassock is generally double breasted. Mine is halfway between the two. The cassock has a cloth cincture, which you are not able to see, because of the black-on-black effect.

Next, we add the surplice to the cassock:

Picture of a cassock and surplice combination

In this picture, I am wearing a surplice over the cassock. (Surplices are only worn with cassocks.) In Anglican churches, lay people often dress this way (without the clergy collar) when they are helping to lead worship. Acolytes commonly wear white surplices over red cassocks. Sometimes choirs wear the cassock and surplice combination, in which case the cassocks can be any color.

Finally, we see a picture of an ordained clergyman wearing a cassock with a surplice and stole:

Picture of me wearing a cassock with surplice and stole

In this picture, I'm dressed like an Anglican priest. I'm wearing a white surplice over the cassock and a stole over the surplice. I'm also wearing a pectoral cross, so you can see the total effect. (In some churches, only a bishop can wear a pectoral cross.)

Among clergy, you are most likely to find Anglican priests in cassocks and surplices, because English law used to require them. John Wesley wore a cassock and surplice, because he was a priest in the Church of England.

The stole is green, which is appropriate for regular services on the Sundays after Epiphany or after Pentecost; actually, most of the year. I would wear different colored stoles for different occasions. Notice that the stole that goes with the cassock and surplice is smaller than the stole that goes with the alb.

Other colors for the stoles:

I do not have a picture of a Geneva gown, because if you have ever graduated from school, you already know what it looks like because you’ve worn one.