Reading in Worship
short guide is designed to set new Readers on the right track but may give some
help to those who have been doing it for years. Whether new or experienced, the
reading of scripture in our worship is a vital ministry in the life of the
church. Learning how to read better will enrich our worship and gives readers
the opportunity to learn more about the Christian Faith.
to read is essential. We do have a rota, and so if you’ve not yet engaged with
our iKnow church system you may not receive a reminder that your duty is coming
up, so please do check the rota when it’s produced and make a note in your
diary. It can make you feel discouraged or embarrassed when you make mistakes
because you don’t know how to pronounce something, or if the reading is
complicated and you don’t know what it’s about, and so realise it's likely it wasn't clear to anyone else. Preparation will bear fruit, both in good readings and
also more confident readers.
readings are printed on our Service Sheet and come out on the Thursday or
Friday before the Sunday. You can access them in advance of this via a feed
from Almanac. You can subscribe to it to add it to an electronic diary here. There's also this great resource which presents the readings in a form specially designed for reading aloud.
When preparing to read for the first time we suggest
you set aside 20-30 minutes to prepare; so if you don’t think you’ve got enough time to do
that between Friday and Sunday morning then please ask Shirley Clements, our
administrator, in advance as she will know what is coming up.
- Preparation: A
good way to prepare is as follows. Read the passage out loud to
understand it. Go to the Bible, read the four
verses before and after the reading to get the larger context. Read the passage out loud
again, placing thoughts/ideas or sequences together. Read it out loud, listening to
yourself to hear if you are reproducing the authors intention. Note if your
reading of the passage makes sense, shows emotion if indicated, reveals
character if noted, shows parenthetical ideas, comes alive as if you were the
living author or character. Read the passage aloud in
front of a mirror, delivering the thoughts/emotions of each section. Sit down and read it out loud
in a relaxed way, becoming familiar with what the words mean to communicate. Read it out aloud one last
time, focusing upon the thoughts and intentions of the passage.
- Pronunciation: Be sure that
any difficult words are sufficiently practiced so you are used to saying the
words correctly and easily. Familiarity keeps you from having to think about it
later! You can find out how to say Biblical words at www.biblespeak.org.
- Prayer: Before and after the Scriptures, pray. Ask God to help you to be an
effective proclaimer of His Word and to help you to understand the reading.
What you believe about the scriptures will say more than the technique you use.
- Please be faithful to the rota:
we as a church give out a certain message to visitors about the importance of
our worship when a reader does not turn up and someone has to be recruited to
read unprepared at the last moment.
- Sit in the seat next to the ambo
when you are reading, and move to your place the moment the priest says Amen at
the end of the Collect. Remove your mask during the collect and before you
- Move with dignity. Always read
from the lectionary book-please don’t bring a piece of paper with you as this
rustles on the recording. Do practice before the service reading from the
lectionary if it helps.
- Try to look at the whole congregation
before beginning. Pause. Announce the reading just as written in the lectionary
book (e.g. A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans’). Please don’t
announce the chapter and verse as these are printed on the service sheet. (You can announce it at our midweek Eucharist).
- After the reading, pause a
moment, look at the congregation and then say “This is the Word of the Lord”. Wait
for the congregation to respond, and then return to your place in the
congregation: please make sure that is near to the front.
- Pace. Reading fast is the biggest mistake beginners make. To get a good idea of how
to pace a reading, please listen to David Suchet reading the bible: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLs0kYUO87ryQ58A2PZGnrHd4Ie1zFPzb If you can, ask someone to judge your
speed when you are preparing for the reading.
- Diction. Good diction and
enunciation is important, especially for those who have hearing difficulties.
Often people complain about the volume of reading but in reality it is often
the lack of clarity.
- Microphone. Practice using the
microphone before the service starts. There is no need to touch the microphone
during the reading as it will have been set before the service starts. Although
there is a microphone in place that does not mean that you should not project
your voice to the back of the church. You may need to stand on the box if you
are shorter, so have a go at doing that before the service.
- Expression. Be expressive with
the tone and mood of the text. Let the text guide you for the tone. If you have
prepared then you will have some sense of the tone of the text. Monotone
speaking will create boring readings. Worship should be lively and that begins
with lively readings. It’s rare, but occasionally people can go too far the
other way, which can also take the focus away from scripture and into the
realms of farce! If you’re uncertain, just ask the Vicar. Read to the
punctuation and if it does not make sense then use your own pausing to ensure
- Mistakes. Perfection is not
expected: in fact there is a saying that ‘Excellence casts a dark shadow’: if all
our readers were like David Suchet we’d never get anyone to volunteer as they
would never feel good enough! So please do not worry at all if you make a
mistake. Just stop and reread the verse. It is not necessary to say “Sorry” or
“Excuse me”: in fact that will draw attention to you rather than the
scriptures. Just keep going with the reading with confidence, knowing that God is
blessed by faithful, rather than perfect worship. If you can accept that it’s
normal to make mistakes, this should help reduce any nerves you might have. It
might be a great help to follow the text with a finger as you read so that when
you look up you can be sure of finding your place again.
- Ending. At
the end of the reading pause for a few seconds and then say “This is the word
of the Lord” The emphasis should be on the WORD and LORD.
guide was adapted from one produced by the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth.