An alb is a liturgical vestment primarily worn by clergy members during religious ceremonies in the Christian tradition. It is a long, white, flowing garment that covers the body from the neck down to the feet, and is often made of linen or other lightweight fabrics. The alb is usually cinched at the waist with a cincture, and its sleeves may be wide or narrow, depending on the specific design.
The word "alb" is derived from the Latin word "alba," meaning "white," which accurately describes its distinctive color. This vestment symbolizes purity, simplicity, and the baptismal garment of Christ. It is commonly used in various Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Historically, the alb can be traced back to as early as the 4th century, and its use gradually became widespread in Christian worship. It is typically worn by bishops, priests, and deacons during the celebration of Mass or other sacraments. The alb serves as a liturgical garment that allows the clergy to lead worship while maintaining an air of reverence and sacredness.
In addition to its religious significance, the alb also carries a symbolic meaning within the Christian faith. It serves as a reminder of Christ's righteousness covering those who serve in the sacred roles of the clergy, representing their commitment to holiness and their role as conduits of God's grace to the world.
The word "alb" derives from the Latin word "albus", meaning "white". It became a term in medieval Latin for a white robe worn by priests during religious ceremonies. The term eventually transferred to different languages, such as Old English "alb" and Old High German "alba", while retaining the same meaning of a white liturgical garment.