Lights

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King James Dictionary [1]

Lights n. lites. plu. so called from their lightness.

The lungs the organs of breathing in animals. These organs in man we call lungs in other animals, lights.

Webster's Dictionary [2]

(n. pl.) The lungs of an animal or bird; - sometimes coarsely applied to the lungs of a human being.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [3]

I. The use of artificial light in baptism was practiced in the Church at an early day, although it was opposed in this instance as in its use for communion service, etc. But where it was used it was the practice, in addition to the ceremony of putting on white garments at baptism, to place lighted tapers in the hands of the baptized. Gregory Nazianzen says: "The station where, immediately after baptism, thou shalt be placed before the altar, is an emblem of the glory of the life to come; the psalmody with which thou shalt be received is a foretaste of those hymns and songs of a better life; and the lamps which thou shalt light are a figure of those lamps of faith wherewith bright and virgin souls shall go forth to meet the Bridegroom." Others say that the lamp was designed to be a symbol of their own illumination, and to remind the candidates of the words of Christ, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." In some baptisms the attendants were clothed in white, and carried tapers. At the baptism of the younger Theodosius, the leaders of the people were all clothed in white, and all the senators and men of quality carried lamps.

Lighted candles were, according to St. Jerome (Epist. cont. Vigilant. cap. 3; comp. also Cave, Prim. Christ. lib. 1, c. 7, page 203), sometimes used in the Eastern churches when the Gospel was read, and were designed to show the joy of those who received the glad tidings, and also to be a symbol of the light of truth. The lighting of candles on the communion table is observed only in the Romish Church. See Farrar, Eccles. Dictionary, s.v.; Bingham, Aniquities of the Christ. Church, book 12, chapter 4, sect. 4; Alt, Christlich. Cultus (1851), page 95; Herzog, Real- Encyklop. 8:517 sq.; Aschbach, Kirchen-Lexikon, 2:769 (Kerzen). (See Candles).

II. Lights were employed by the Apostolic Church, but for no other purpose than to obviate the inconvenience of assembling for worship in the dark. Their use as a matter of religion, or, rather, of superstition, is of far less ancient date, although it has been defended as a primitive custom, and might, of course, be traced even to Jewish antiquity, if such a precedent were esteemed of any value. In all probability, artificial light was used during the daytime, and for a symbolical purpose, about the 4th century, if we accept the statement of St. Paulinus, bishop of Sola (A.D. 353-431), who, speaking of the great numbers of wax-lights which burned about the altars, making the night more splendid than the day, adds that the light of the day itself was made more glorious by the same means:

"Nocte dieque mliclant.

Sic nox splendore dici Fulget: et ipsa dies ccelesti illnstris honore

Plus micat inlumeris lucem geminata lucernis." (Paulin. Nat. 3, S. Felicis.)

(Compare also Isidore, Origin. 7:12.) But this custom was severely condemned by many. (See Lamps).

III. The practice of lighting candles on the altar, which prevailed, and still prevails, in the Romish Church, was abolished in England at the Reformation.

Those candles which (according to one of the Injunctions of Edward VI, set forth in 1547) have been suffered to remain upon the Lord's table are sometimes designated as "lights on the communion table." But it is to be noticed that no lights are ever used in the English churches, only candles, which are never lighted, the lighting of any such candles at an evening service being merely for a necessary purpose. (See Altar).

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