Reader Customary

Reading, either through one of the lessons or the Prayers of the People, is a direct form of communication with the congregation. While it is possible to bring original style to a reading, basic guidelines must be followed. Bruton is a particularly challenging space; with the lack of microphones and the age of the congregation, it is crucial to read slowly and loudly. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the congregation to understand the text, which is hard to do for some readings. As with other duties, readers should dress in nice clothing.

Readings are generally placed on the lectern or ambo before the service begins (see the illustration at the end of this section), but it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure that the reading is there. Bringing a previously studied and annotated reading is encouraged, but a reader should never simply bring a piece of paper to the lectern. Either place the reading on the lectern or ambo before the service, or place the reading in a folder. It is important for the readers to should sit near the front of the church to save time when walking to and from the lectern. The focus is always on the reading, not on the reader processing from the rear of the church.

• PRACTICE. Rehearse your reading aloud at least 3 times before the service. Readings are generally sent out the Monday or Tuesday before the services so you can study them in advance. Practicing a reading aloud will make it much easier.

• Read SLOWLY. People have a tendency to rush, especially when speaking in public. It is possible to read too slowly, of course, but it is much better to be too slow. When in doubt, read slower.

• Read LOUDLY. Readers must have enough volume to project to the back of the church. The rule is to imagine a grandmother in the back pew who forgot her hearing aids, which is fairly realistic for Bruton. Just as before, when in doubt, read louder.

• Watch PUNCTUATION. In order to tell the story in the reading properly, punctuation must be followed accurately. Commas should get a pause, colons and semicolons should have a longer pause. Wait a full second or two between sentences.

Reading the Old and New Testament

For the Old Testament reading, walk to the lectern directly at the end of the Collect. While it is improper to stand up before the collect is completed, too much of a pause is undesirable as well. The reader for the New Testament should walk up directly after the choir is seated after the psalm.

When it is light outside, stand at the bronze lectern on the left side of the church. When it is too dark to be able to see the readings there, stand at the ambo underneath the pulpit on the right side of the church. See the figure at the end of the instructions. Members of the congregation will often wish to follow along in the bulletin. Wait for the rustling noise to die down before beginning.

Readings should be introduced as written on the sheet. This always begins “A reading from…” Once the reading is concluded, pause for three to four seconds and conclude “The Word of the Lord.” This should have finality and give closure to the reading. A trick to counting is to repeat “Jesus Christ” silently three or four times. Do not return to your seat until the congregation responds “Thanks be to God.”

If there are any questions about pronunciation, ask whoever is giving the sermon. This ensures consistency.

Reading the Prayers of the People

Make sure you have the red Prayers binder before the service begins. This is kept in the sacristy on the left side in a compartment outside of the priests’ closets. Walk up directly after the Nicene Creed. Reverence the altar with a simple bow, then turn to face the congregation at the crossing of the side transepts and nave. See the figure at the end of the instructions.

Ensure that the proper form is used. The tab for the 5:30 service should be the last form in the binder. Follow all directions on the form. Everything should be written out. It helps to glance through the form before the service, especially as there might be names of cities or people that are difficult to pronounce. Ask a priest for assistance.

Always give effect to periods denoted as silence. Congregants often speak during these pauses, so wait five to ten seconds before moving on. Do not be scared to include silence; remember that this is a period of prayer, and the form generally allows for people to add prayers, either silently or aloud.

Note that Form VI includes the confession. Begin the confession, and the congregation will join in.

When finished, close the binder but remain standing. The priest will then finish with a collect or absolution, depending on the form. Once this is completed, return to your seat. It is very important to remember to close the binder, as this is the signal to the priest that the prayers are finished. For Form VI, return to your seat after the absolution. For other forms, return to your seat between the collect and the confession.

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