Only at St Chrysostom’s 3. A Censation

What is the collective noun for a group of thuribles?

Worship at St Chrysostom’s is well known for our use of incense. One of our regular worshippers who has been coming to church since she was a little girl recently commented she cannot remember a Sunday when incense wasn’t used. We’re quite proud of that!

Here in our silly season of posts ‘Only at St Chrysostom’s’ we thought we’d have a peep into the sacristy, and let the world see one or two things.

Look here we have a group of five thuribles. Actually there are more in church, but these five are together here. You’ll see two traditional ‘western’ thuribles. You’ll also see some thuribles in the style often used in Orthodox churches. They are thuribles too – in Greek Θυμιατο, Thymiato or for those who prefer Old Church Slavonic Кадилница, kadilnitsa. These thuribles have been given to use by visiting Orthodox clergy, one in particular we treasure – the gift of Archimandrite Ephrem Lash – a great supporter of St Chrysostom’s. The Orthodox style of thurible has small bells attached to the chains which explains why, less respectfully, they have been referred to as ding-a-ling smoke pots.

Now we know some may object to incense (an accompaniment to worship, often, in the Bible), but then most things have admirers and protestors. One thing we appreciaste at St Chrysostom’s is the use of the senses in worship, and at times an extravagance in worship too. It’s all done with a sense of joy – or as one of our people says ‘with a twinkle in the eye’. Fr Ken Leech whose requiem mass was held at St Chrysostom’s requested lashings of holy water and lots of incense at his requiem – we did our best to grant his reasonable request!

Many years ago Fr Ken wrote encouraging exuberance and joy at Mass; “one striking feature of most modern liturgies is their moderation and restraint. There is no excess in word or gesture… they are reflective of ‘one dimensional man’, clean and functional, expressing little but the middle-class taste of the 60’s! In case you haven’t got it yet, I’m all for the opposite, bringing back the colour, drama, movement and music of the medieval church.” So bring out the thuribles!

Now looking around the sacristy we find this curious piece of liturgical equipment. Can you identify what it is? It doesn’t come out much but has a special role when it does. Answers in the comments below, please.

But no sight in the sacristy, yet, of a funghellino – although at least two people are trying to track one down. 

And finally – that collective noun for a group of Thuribles. We asked for suggestions. Here are some of them: a clank, a clutter, a cough, a thuribulation, a smoggers, a te deum, a cloud, a thrust, a cyclone, a plume…

And our suggestion is ‘A Censation of Thuribles.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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9 Responses to Only at St Chrysostom’s 3. A Censation

  1. Chris Griffiths says:

    My suggestion is a smog of thuribles !

    You got a clacker for Lent I see, you should see the one we have at St Paul’s Deptford , a unique home made affair !

  2. Paul O says:

    Ah now it all makes sense! I recall during the committal at Father Ken’s requiem, standing panext to the coffin singing the song of farewell slowly realising that I was surrounded by an extraordinary amount of incense whilst at the same time being soaked with holy water. It was a wonderfully spiritual experience but I have to admit to a fleeting feeling of horror that a lung full of holy smoke was going to put pay to me reaching that top F, I managed though, thank God!

  3. Fr Derek says:

    Your “rattle” is a crotalus for use in place of a Sanctus bell in Passiontide.

  4. Ah! the Vicar of Oldham uses his Crotalus during Passiontide. It seems St Paul’s, Deptford (see Chris’ post here) use theirs during the whole of Lent… the St Chrysostom’s use is to bring it out after the Gloria on Holy Thursday until the beginning of the Great Easter Vigil.

    • Sarah Cotterill says:

      St. Alban’s, in Highgate, Birmingham, follows the same practice as St. Chrysostum’s. I’ll definitely refer to a censation of thuribles from now on!

    • Father Ron says:

      St Chrysostom’s wins then! The crotalus is used from the end of the Maundy Gloria till the beginning of the Great Vigil in the Holy Night

    • Fr Derek says:

      The Vicar of Oldham no longer possesses a Crotalus. He had one when younger, but restricted its use to attending football matches!

  5. Jo Sparkes says:

    I suggest a ‘ Rising of censations ‘

  6. We have had a wonderful plethora of suggestions for the collective noun for a group of thuribles. It has caught the imagination, and creativity of lots of people.
    Here are just a few of the suggestions:

    A Garland
    A Goodsense
    A Miasma
    An inspiration
    A cacophony (the noise they’d make)
    A puff
    A swish
    A cloud

    And, no doubt there will be more 🙂

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