8 General Rules for Readers in the Orthodox Church

With all reading in Church, certain rules apply:

1. Never read while walking or moving around.

2. It is not necessary to make the Sign of the Cross or to bow while reading. In most practices, the reader will refrain from doing any of these things, in order to simply concentrate on reading.

3. If prostrations are required during reading, the Reader should make the first prostration fully, with the faithful, then limit himself to a bow from the waist for the rest of the prostrations in a particular section.

4. If the priest censes you while you are reading (such as during the Epistle reading), bow slightly, but do not interrupt the reading, or make the Sign of the Cross.

5. If the Reader has a cough, a yawn, a hiccup, etc., it is better to pause for a moment, and to resume reading in a clear voice, rather than to try to read while yawning, etc. Under such circumstances, Readers normally make the Sign of the Cross, silently asking God’s help to complete the reading with reverence.

6. A Reader should not chew gum, and should certainly refrain from chewing it in Church. If a Reader is suffering from a sever cough, some water might be permitted in Church, or possibly a lozenge, if the lozenge can be discretely kept in the mouth without affecting reading. Ideally, a Reader should arrange to take cough syrup prior to the service, or arrange for someone else to read.

7. It is appropriate to mark liturgical books with cloth liturgical bookmarks or ribbons; it is also permissible to mark readings using an adhesive note, discretely displayed with the scriptural reference for the reading written on it. Scraps of paper, paper clips, and other markers should be avoided, since they are easily lost, and can ruin the pages of the liturgical book.

8. Most importantly, reading in Church must be, a prayerful labour, a work for the sake of Jesus Christ and the upbuilding of His Church, never for the honour of the Reader himself, for attention, or for personal theatrical display.

Approached properly, with faith and love, the work of a Reader is a precious service to the Church, and a blessing to those who serve in its orders.

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