[[image:censer.jpg|right|thumb|A typical Orthodox censer]]A '''censer''' is a small metal or stone dish used for burning [[incense]]. A common design is a metal container, about the size and shape of a small coffee-pot, suspended on chains and often with the addition of small bells. The bowl contains hot coals, and the incense is placed on top of these.
Censers used in the church, known as a [[Wikipedia:thurible|thurible]] in the [[Western Rite]], are used during offices or services, such as [[Vespers]], [[Orthros]], and the [[Divine Liturgy]]. ''Censing'' is the practice of swinging a censer suspended from chains towards something or someone, typically an icon or person, so that smoke from the burning incense travels in that direction. If a [[deacon]] is present, he typically does much of the censing, otherwise the duty is undertaken by the [[priest]]. Unordained servers or acolytes are permitted to prepare and carry the censer, but may not swing it during prayers.
To the Orthodox, burning incense represents the prayers of the faithful rising towards [[Heaven]] as a sweet smelling spiritual fragrance. One commonly sung [[psalm]] during the censing is "Let my prayer rise like incense before You, the lifting up of my hands like the evening sacrifice." Some Orthodox Christians use a standing censer on their home altars.
The censer used in the liturgical services of the [[Church]] contains a bowl/recepticle which represents the Church.
Some commentators suggest that this represents the Holy [[Theotokos]] because like she contained within her womb the Divine Fire, so too, the censer contains the burning coal of faith. This dish is supported by four chains each of which carries three bells. The twelve bells represent the voices of the disciples proclaiming the [[Gospel]] based on the teachings of the four [[Evangelist]]s here represented by the chains.