The Ministry of the Reader

This is a ministry to the brethren. To become a Reader, one must be liturgically and sacramentally active (i.e., frequent confession and communion), as well as be actively involved in the community life of the parish before the priest will extend an invitation to join the rotation of those designated to read the Epistle.

Serving as a Reader requires a blessing from the priest. The Reader is to approach the Holy Place and receive a blessing every time prior to reading the Epistle on a given day. The appropriate time to do that is before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy.

You will also be required to learn how to locate the Prokeimenon and Epistle reading for any given day, and then mark the page(s) in the Epistle book. The passage should be marked the night before. You may ask the priest or other Readers to teach you how to find it.

Note: The principles of Clothing and Attire on Church Etiquette page apply to anyone serving in an official capacity.

The voice, too, should not be languid, nor feeble, nor womanish in its tone, such a tone of voice as many are in the habit of using under the idea of seeming important. It should preserve a certain quality and rhythm, and a manly vigor. For all, to do what is best suited to their character and sex, that is, to attain to beauty of life. This is the best order for movements, this is the employment fitted for every action.

In speaking of the voice, I certainly think it ought to be plain and clear. That it should be musical is a gift of nature, and isn't to be won by exertion. Let it be distinct in its pronunciation and full of a manly vigor, but let it be free from a rough and rustic twang. See, too, that it does not assume a theatrical accent, but rather keeps true to the inner meaning of the words it utters.

- St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (4th century), On the Duties of the Clergy

Reading should be done with respect, reverence, and humility. This will help you prepare:

  • Be familiar with the instruction from holy Fathers.
  • Read the passage ahead of time.
  • Read at a conversational pace, not too fast, not too slow.
  • Be mindful of those listening and how you come across to them. 
  • Relax and breathe normally.
  • Articulate words and syllables.

Here are the rubrics covering the movements of the Reader, what is said, and when it is said, and what you do.

(During the chanting of the Trisagion, come forward and stand next to the table that has the Epistle book on it. Please note that in absence of a Deacon - his portion is done by the Priest.)

Deacon: With Strength!
(That's your cue to walk to the middle of the Nave and face the Holy Table. Stand at the base of the solea.)

Deacon: Let us attend!

Reader: (Facing the Holy Table, recite the Prokeimenon, but only the verse. Don't say, Prokeimenon, Tone #.... followed by the verse. Occasionally, there are two verses. In that case, read both of them.)

Deacon: Wisdom!

Reader: The reading is from..... (Announce the Epistle lesson.)

Deacon: Let us attend!

Reader: (Turn to face the people and read the Epistle. Intone the end of the Epistle reading, if you can. That's the signal to the priest the reading has concluded. Close the book. Turn to face the Holy Table and wait for a blessing from the priest.)

Priest: Peace be to thee, the reader.

(Step toward the Priest. When he places his hand on the Epistle book, kiss his hand. Then, place the Epistle book back on its table and return to your seat.)