Izz Huett is referring to the banns of marriage, an announcement that a marriage is to take place in a church. By canonical law, the banns must be called at three different services in advance of a wedding ceremony. This gives anyone who might have a legitimate objection to the marriage, for example because they know that the bride or groom is already married, a chance to speak out before the wedding day.
In church towers, the bells hang from wheels and are propped on 'stays' or 'rests' when not in use. These are pieces of wood attached to the bell which stop it from spinning round and round on the wheel, and allow ringers to stop the sound when they choose.
This a reference to the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. One of the most extreme and unsettling biblical texts, it describes the vision St John the Divine had of the end of the world and the judgment that was to follow.
The angel St John saw is described as holding seven stars and having a face that shines like the sun.
These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume
Act II: Scene 6
A rooster crowing is traditionally a sign of infidelity.
This comes from the biblical story of Peter's denial of Jesus on the night before he is crucified. Shortly before he is arrested, Jesus tells Peter that no matter how loyal he feels to him, he will have betrayed him three times by the time the cock crows the next morning. Peter is sure it isn't true, yet when the crowd turns against him Peter finds himself denying that he knows Jesus three times. As soon as he has uttered the third denial, the cock crows and Peter realises what he has done.
Aldebaran and Sirius are two of the brightest stars in the night sky.
Located about 65 light years from earth, Aldebaran is part of the constellation of Taurus. Its name means "the follower", probably because the star seems to be following the seven sisters constellation in the night sky.
Also known as the Dog Star, Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. It is twice as big as the sun but around 25 times more luminous, and was originally composed of two bluish stars.
The quotation is from St Paul's first letter to Timothy (4:12).
Given the rule-bound nature of St Paul's teachings, he makes a strange contrast with the Roman poet Horace, who wrote the next lines Hardy quotes. Known for phrases such as "carpe diem" and "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori", Horace espoused an ideal of enjoying the moment and getting the most out of the here and now.
Agape is a Greek word for a particular kind of love. It became closely associated with the Christian church as it stands for a self-sacrificing, asexual kind of love, similar to the sort of love Christ is thought to show for his flock.
In the Bible, the ideal relationship between a husband and wife is compared to the relationship between Christ and the Church. Here, Hardy exploits the tension in this idea by using the concept to point up the non-sexual nature of Tess and Angel's marriage.