The Aesthetics of Liturgy
The Rev’d Dr. Paul B. Clayton, Jr.
Mr. Joseph Costa
Deacon Jacques Girard
Mr. Douglas Hayes
Ms. Margaret Lehrecke
Ms. Carol McKenna
The Rev. Rhoda Treherne-Thomas
Mr. Martin E. Boehling
The Rev’d Tobias Haller, BSG
The Rev’d Masud 1. Syedullah
The Rev’d Linda L. Moeller
In 1998, Bishop Grein asked the Liturgical Commission to prepare a document on the aesthetics of liturgy. The Commission took on this task with some reservations. Aesthetics are deeply a matter a taste and taste is formed by a variety of influences, including ecclesiastical partisanship, racial and ethnic traditions, and what has been taught to us by individuals important in our formation. Aesthetics are influenced by architectural. circumstances. Liturgy which looks good in a thousand-seat urban Gothic church will look oddly incongruous in a fifty-seat A-frame church in a rural setting. Aesthetics are influenced by our mission. A liturgy designed to attract students in a suburban community college may have a different look from one which is designed to meet the needs of a retirement community. A congregation desiring to minister to those whose hearts have been stirred by the charismatic renewal will create a different liturgy from one which desires to maintain the integrity of pre-reformation catholic liturgical tradition.
Yet, all of these varying experiences of worship are authentic to Anglican tradition. Each and every tradition claims its place in our heritage and addresses a constituency to whom we wish to minister. It is not the desire of the Liturgical Commission to enforce a standard of uniformity-as if such a foolish rigidity could even be undertaken in our Church. But we do believe that we can assist our parishes in achieving some aesthetic goals which will enhance worship in any tradition. Here are some of the general guidelines we would urge be considered:
A thoughtful look at liturgy:
Those who conduct and plan liturgies can learn a lot from looking thoughtfully and analytically at the liturgies they craft and celebrate. Here, video cameras can be a useful, if somewhat humbling, tool.
A creative use of space:
Someone once said that a liturgy should never fight the building where the rite will be celebrated. The building will always win. Sight lines must be considered when decisions are made about where lessons are read, where baptisms are done and chrismation administered. Placement of the altar may dictate whether a celebration of the Eucharist facing the people is feasible. Placement of singers may suggest how entrance and retiring processions should be organized.
A careful collection of tools to support worship:
Vessels which are simple and functional and are used consistently and thoughtfully, vestments which have dignity without fussiness, and books set up for maximum convenience and ease of celebrating-all of these contribute to a liturgy which flows smoothly and does not distract the worshipper by the tools of its presentation.
Development of a parish ceremonial:
Even the simplest celebration will be made easier and training of ministers will be facilitated by having written ceremonials with diagrams and clear instructions.
Creative use of the arts in liturgy:
Like music, furniture and vestments, flowers, paintings, icons and textile art all offer opportunity for ministry and celebrate creativity and beauty, both of which are signs of God’s hand in creation.
If we were to urge any general principle, it might be this one: Strive to insure that the liturgy always calls attention to what we know to be true about God, not to incidental stage settings or personal idiosyncrasies. We consistently are called to show forth in our liturgy what we believe in our theology and profess in our faith. Liturgy and belief should be congruent and contiguous.
We hope that these guidelines might be helpful to all who celebrate and plan our liturgies and look forward to hearing ideas which might be incorporated in future redactions of this document and problems which might be addressed in the same venue.
The Liturgical Commission
WHAT WE SEE
Liturgy should celebrate the building in which it is conducted. Particularly if the church possesses many items of liturgical significance such as statues and stained glass, occasional reference to them in sermons can be useful. For example, if you have a window dedicated to St. Patrick, it might be good to refer to that on St. Patrick’s day when the hagiography is read from Lesser Feasts and Fasts. A parish might consider writing and publishing a small tract containing facts about the building, its art, and the significance of architectural detail. Such booklets about stained glass windows are often especially useful. When contemplating changes to church buildings, the Church Building Fund, 815 Second Avenue, New York NY 10017, can provide a wealth of guidance, knowledge and experience. They are always glad to help and have several useful publications available for distribution.
Lighting is expensive and often problematic. Generally, those planning worship will want to make the church welcoming and bright. Gloomy church interiors may suggest a somberness which may not be compatible with the gospel we proclaim and designers should consider that it is possible for a building to be to be dignified without being deadly and dark.
Free standing altars:
Some visuals concern architectural and decorative decisions. For the last generation or so, the freestanding altar and the celebration of the eucharist facing the people have been hallmarks of contemporary liturgy. Not for a moment would we want to gainsay that good practice. However celebrating the eucharist facing the people and celebrating the eucharist facing eastward each have good, strong, compelling theological rationales in their support. Celebrating facing the people suggests intimacy and community in the fashion that gathering in a circle indicates. Celebrating facing east suggests that the people of God have a common direction and common anticipation of the resurrection.
Visuals or sight lines:
The way a liturgy looks can enhance its symbolic impact and clarify its sacramental purpose, or it can be distracting and even, on occasion, introduce elements of low comedy. It may be helpful for clergy and others who plan liturgies to schedule themselves to sit in the congregation from time to time and observe the visual impact of a liturgy.
During the ministry of the Word of God, many feel that the altar looks best with only the gospel book and perhaps its candles placed upon it. The vested chalice probably looks better on the credence table where it does not distract from the gospel book which is a powerful symbol of the Word of God. It may be better to bring the vessels to the altar during the offertory. Too many things on an altar may result in confused and unclear symbolism. It may not be a good idea to place upon the altar items such as plants, vestments for later use in the service, obvious sound equipment items, prayer books, flower pots, eyeglass cases, or floral arrangements. Just as the altar was clear of equipment before the liturgy, a good ceremonial usage might allow the altar to be cleared before the end of the liturgy.
In order to achieve a convenient celebration facing the people, many churches have installedsecondary free standing altars in chancel areas before older high altars fixed to east walls. In some cases this arrangement is effective. In other cases, however, the double altar effect suggests that one altar is something of a minority report to the other and the unity of eucharistic symbolism is diminished. Anything which contributes to symbolic confusion should probably be avoided. And anything, such as a portable altar on wheels, which suggests impermanence or tentativeness should be avoided, too. Similar remarks might apply to baptismal fonts. Having a portable font moved to a position in front may achieve visibility, but may not be a good symbol for a sacrament whose chief characteristic is immutability.
Vesture of Clergy and other ministers:
Clergy may wish to consider not changing vestments during the course of the rite. There is nothing wrong with wearing a chasuble during the entire liturgy, and, in most cases, clothing changes provide relatively little spiritual depth to a liturgy.
Vestments were once such a partisan issue that one brings up this subject only with some reticence. Clergy might want to consider these points. The chasuble worn over a stole and alb, and girdle, perhaps with an amice, is the most ancient, and probably the most frequently worn vesture in this diocese. If these traditional eucharistic vestments are not wanted, then it may be better for the priest to wear a cassock, surplice and a stole, rather than a stole over an alb. An alb was, historically never an outer garment, and even today it still has something of the appearance of underwear.
Assisting ministers, such as acolytes, servers, crucifers, thurifers, lay readers, chalice bearers, vexilators (did you ever wonder what a banner bearer was called?), and intercessors may look better in cassock and surplice than in albs. Albs, even when cut properly and kept clean are not as attractive as the cassock and surplice and the surplice is such an interesting part of Anglican tradition that it may be good to remember and use it. Whatever vestments are worn should be worn in proper sizes. Cassocks and albs should reach the ankles, and should fit well across the shoulders. Surplices can be of many lengths, but many people feel that the best length is somewhere between knee and ankle. Albs were traditionally worn with rope girdles and may still look best when worn that way. The loose alb sometimes bears an unfortunate resemblance to maternity wear which in many cases is not appropriate.
Dress and adornment of those ministers in the altar party:
In our tradition, lay ministers are generally vested. It is probably better for all ministers to avoid conspicuous jewelry or accessories, such as large earrings and many bangles and bracelets which may not only visually distract but may also be noisy. Brightly colored shoes and stockings and large, bulky watches are probably not suitable for wear at the altar. Beyond those suggestions, we are reluctant to offer much restrictive counsel about attire because different cultures and differing economic circumstances may affect a given minister’s ability to appear in dressy clothes and shoes. Perhaps the best counsel is to urge acolytes and other ministers to come to church in their best attire, reflecting our conviction that the Sunday eucharist be treated as the most important thing with which we begin our week.
Differences in ways of entering:
Entrances were at one time designated by three descriptive terms: The short way, the long way, and the procession. The short way, customary perhaps for said services, is simply to walk from the sacristy to the altar by the most direct way possible. The long way was to walk from the sacristy to the back of the church and then up a central aisle to the altar. This way is especially useful when a hymn was to be sung. An actual procession begins from the altar and ends at the altar, so such an entrance generally meant coming in the short way, having the deacon bid the altar party to go forth in peace, and then having a procession all the way around the church, perhaps in a figure-eight style. Needless to say, such a procession will work poorly in a church which has no side aisles. Clergy might want to consider having different ways of entering at different seasons. There is a nearly immutable tradition of having a vested choir walk in processions, and we certainly do not wish to challenge this practice in places where it is an important part of ceremonial. However, those planning worship might want to consider how helpful it might be to have the choir already in place for the rousing hymn which should open each liturgy. A good choir not only performs music for the congregation to hear, but also leads the congregation in singing.
Crosses and Torches:
A parish might want to consider having at least two processional crosses, one for festal and ordinary occasions, and one for Lent. A simple wooden processional cross could easily be made by a modestly skilled woodworker and would be a good way of simplifying Lenten liturgy.
The use of torches, especially at the gospel, is a sensible ceremonial suggesting Christ as the light of the world. Even if a shortage of acolytes means that a pair of torchbearers are not available, a single minister might accompany the gospel book with a torch and stand near it while the gospel is being proclaimed.
Another venerable tradition is the veiling of art objects in church during Lent, sometimes for the whole of the season, sometimes just for Holy Week, and sometimes even changing the colors of the veils from violet to white on Maundy Thursday and to black on Good Friday. This is not a bad idea, particularly when it is understood as an effort to make the church building more austere. Those planning liturgies and decorating for Lent might want to think about leaving uncovered those art objects, large crucifixes, for example, which portray the passion of the Lord during this season when we are particularly focused upon this saving event.
While it seems simplistic to mention it, we suggest that all ministers be trained how to walk, sit, stand, and kneel during the liturgy. Walking should be deliberate and reverent. Swaggering or loping are rarely attractive paces and some parishes even go so far as to suggest that one should always walk parallel to or at right angles to the sides of the sanctuary (the area around the altar.) Military corners, of course, are generally thought of as too rigid for liturgical posture. When walking, unless one is carrying an object, the hands should be folded at waist level and the elbows bent at about a 90-degree angle. The arms should not be swung back and forth. When picking up an object from, say, an altar or a credence, walk over to it and pick up the desired object, avoid bending and lunging at the altar. When standing, unless holding an object, fold the hands at waist level and avoid the low comedy introduced into the liturgy by what is commonly called the fig leaf posture, hands folded in a position slightly below the waistline. When sitting, keep both feet flat on the floor and hands either flat on the thighs or folded in the lap. Don’t cross legs or play with vestments. Don’t fidget. Chewing gum in the sanctuary is deplorable. In general, one’s deportment in the sanctuary should not call attention to oneself and one’s appearance and behavior should be superseded by one’s function as a minister to the congregation. Coordinated movements are more aesthetically pleasing than individual movements made independently. Ministers such as torch bearers, deacons, and subdeacons or pairs of chalice bearers, often perform their ministries in coordination. It may be best in such occasions for these pairs to practice walking together, reaching a common destination simultaneously and reverencing the altar in concert.
Celebrants and deacons should remember that they are handling food for the people of God. Avoid touching one’s nose, mouth, or hair; handle or touch the bread or chalice lip minimally; wash hands before the liturgy with soap and water. Consider using soap and water in the lavabo on Ash Wednesday or Maundy Thursday when your hands have been in odd places or touching things perceived to be unclean.
The prayer book suggests that at the Great Thanksgiving, there be only one chalice on the altar. A single chalice is a strong symbol of our unity in one Lord, one faith and one Baptism. If additional wine needs to be consecrated, it maybe best to have that wine in a simple flagon or cruet next to the chalice and have supplemental chalices filled after the breaking of the bread. A ciborium is a very useful vessel for administering communion, especially in a large congregation, however it looks a lot like a chalice. If it is the custom of the parish to elevate the bread and the wine at “The Gifts of God for the people of God” it may look better to elevate the bread while it is on a paten or plate and transfer it later to a ciborium for ease of communions.
Clutter in church:
While this is a matter of taste, we suggest that only those items needed for a particular liturgy be actually kept in the church. The processional crosses and torches, unless they are irretrievably part of the decor of the building, probably belong in the sacristy. A thurible hanging perpetually in the sanctuary when not in use can be distracting, and leaving altar books and lectionaries lying around looks untidy and probably will not result in the books staying as clean and well protected as they might if they were put away.
At one time, the taking of the ablutions was a partisan issue and people defined their eccleisal loyalties by when they did the dishes. We think that those days are over and that it might be a good idea to suggest that ablutions be taken after the liturgy at a credence table or in the sacristy. There is a venerable English tradition of using a postcommunion veil, a square of linen about half again the size of a corporal. Those planning liturgies might consider having all the vessels-the chalices, patens, ciboria and flagons-brought to the credence table, veiled with a postcommunion veil and left their for cleaning after the liturgy.
WHAT WE HEAR
It is often difficult to maintain silence in church before the liturgy, particularly when a community enjoys being together and old friends may not have seen each other for some time. However, silence before the eucharist does help to draw the distinction between liturgy and the other activities which characterize our common life. The clergy and others who plan worship can help the process of encouraging silence and prayer by insuring that the liturgical set up is all completed long before the service begins and that ministers are not bolting in from the sacristy with last minute deliveries of books and vessels.
Sound systems are not the intransigent and unpredictable devices that once punctuated our services with annoying whistles and squeaks and on occasion even audible information about the work of local police and emergency services personnel. However good systems are very expensive and before investing in one, clergy might want to consider teaching readers how to read clearly and loudly. A mediocre sound system may be worse than none.
Shouting page numbers:
Everyone has heard horror stories about people coming to our churches and leaving befuddled by the two books, the leaflet and its inserts, and the variables in our liturgy. There is, in light of this admittedly offputting experience, an entirely understandable desire to help people through the liturgy. In many cases, this hospitable impulse has lead worship leaders to sprinkle various page announcements throughout the liturgy. We suggest that this practice be rethought. Is it really necessary to announce page numbers when they are printed in the leaflet, especially when the leaflet is user-friendly and simply set forth? Might it be the vocation of the lay persons in the pews to spot a newcomer struggling with two books and to help her find the places where the service can be found? On occasions when the service has no leaflet, a congregation might develop a reusable booklet containing the necessary texts arranged in order for the liturgy. We enclose an example of such a leaflet designed for use by one of our parishes for simple, said weekday eucharists. When this particular leaflet is used, the only page that need be announced is that for the psalm.
It is the role of the lector to proclaim the readings with strength, clarity, and energy. Listening to readings read with power and dignity is a distinctly different activity from reading the lessons silently along with a reader. For one thing, hearing a reading is an act of communal worship of the triune God and reading along on one’s own is more a response of individual piety. There is probably no single right way to present the readings, and pastoral consideration, such as care for those with impaired hearing, may suggest an available printed text. Those who plan worship, however, should consider the differing impact of hearing over against reading. In any event, lectors may benefit from a frequent evaluation of their audibility and clarity by members of the congregation.
The Prayer Book permits announcements before the service, after the Nicene Creed, before the Offertoty or at the end of the liturgy. Each position has both its advantages and its problems. Announcements before the liturgy may not reach latecomers and may break the liturgical flow between the prelude and the opening hymn. Making announcements after the Creed has the advantage of allowing things announced to become a part of the Prayers of the People, which follow. Some may feel, however, that this position interrupts the flow of the liturgy between Creed and Prayers. Most of our congregations probably place the announcements before the offertory. There is a natural break in the service here, however, placement of the announcements before the offertory precludes praying about what has been announced. And, there may be occasions when a worshiper will hear during the prayer that a name has been moved from the category of sick to the category of dead and may have a few anxious minutes before the announcement of a death after the Peace and before the Offertory. Announcements may also be made after the service, however, as with making them before the liturgy, there may be a conflict with music planned at this point in the rite.
Instructions and explanations in the liturgy:
It is probably not a good principle to confuse instruction with worship, although there may be times when the distinctions may blur. If a piece of ceremonial or ritual needs extensive explanation, it may be that the use of that ceremonial should be reconsidered. If explanations or instructions need to be given, perhaps they should be included in the service leaflet or in a separately published tract. In any event, a great many interpolations in the rite tends to diminish the smooth flow of the liturgy.
Variety of Texts:
Clergy and those planning the liturgy should reflect upon the fact that they are exposed to a great deal more liturgy than the average person in the pew. What seems like a boring repetition to the ministers may be a source of comfort, edification and familiarity to those who participate in the eucharist only once a week, or even less frequently.
Parishes might consider providing a glossary for newcomers so they know the difference between an orphery and an ostensorium, and so that acolyte inquiries concerning whether or not they should wear the “long black thing” might be kept to a minimum.
WHAT WE DO
Ushers have an important role in hospitality and welcoming newcomers who may be seeking church homes. Parishes should examine their ushering procedures to ensure that people are made to feel welcome and given sufficient information about what they are expected to do without being made to feel overly directed or treated like sheep. Ushers should consider ways to direct people to holy communion which provide a steady flow of communicants to the rails without brusque or restrictive instructions. Ushers should remember that at this point of the liturgy, they are there to make people feel welcomed and called to the eucharistic banquet.
Reverences to the altar and the sacrament may be better when they are thought through carefully and perhaps done with simplicity and attention to sight lines and visuals. In many places, a great many bobbings, bowings and genuflections have been replaced with a single profound bow to the altar upon entering and leaving the sanctuary. Genuflections, in parishes where they are the custom, are appropriate reverences to the sacrament on the altar; however, celebrants may want to rethink genuflections from behind a freestanding altar. Such genuflections can cause the celebrant to resemble a jack-in-the-box, or the final appearance of John the Baptizer with his now-detached head perched upon a platter.
Prayers of the People:
While deacons and others are encouraged by the Prayer Book, and by the Bishop, to compose prayers of the people, such writing is a particular skill which needs to be thoughtfully developed. Those beginning this ministry might study the forms and phrases of generally accepted prayers to learn how such compositions are prepared.
The greeting of Peace which separates the ministry of the Word of God from the Celebration of the Holy Communion is one of the most ancient parts of the liturgy and one the recovery of which in the 1979 Prayer Book has brought both community delight and thoughtful questions. If the clergy insist on taking the sign of the peace into the congregation, not only is the service considerably delayed, but this practice also suggests that the clergy are the source and mediator of Christ’s peace. It is the common prayer of the whole community which prepares us for the exchange of the peace and that idea may suggest that the best way is for ministers and people to exchange the peace with their nearest neighbors. It may be better to greet randomly those seated nearest to you rather than to seek out those with whom you are particularly close, and those who plan liturgy may want to keep in mind that the peace should not be confused with the coffee hour which follows the liturgy.
Most clergy celebrate the eucharist and may lead other prayers, with hands extended in what is commonly called the orans position. In this position the celebrant’s arms are extended to a comfortable position and the elbows are held in near the body. The hands are held at about shoulder level and kept at about a 45-degree angle to the plane of the shoulders. Holding the hands perfectly parallel to each other with palms facing inward suggests that the celebrant may be planning to illustrate the length of a fish that got away, and holding the hands parallel to the body with palms facing the congregation suggests a posture more suitable to the victim of an armed robbery.
Another practice which used to define ecclesiastical partisanship is the matter of intinction, or as the prayer book coyly puts it, receiving the sacrament in both kinds at the same time in a manner approved by the Bishop. We are reluctant to take a position on this practice in a way which may create an issue where there has been none. However, we would suggest that where intinction is desired, the minister of the chalice be the one to touch the particle to the surface of the wine and place it upon the communicants tongue. We do not intend this as attempt at unreasonable strictness, but rather as a way of maintaining some standards of hygiene and aesthetics. A minister of the chalice will have thoroughly washed his or her hands before undertaking this ministry. A trained minster of the chalice will know how to make the intinction without thrusting a finger into the consecrated wine up to the second knuckle. In the 1960s, it was the official position of the Bishop of New York that intinction was always to be done by the minster of the chalice rather than the communicant.
Experience has shown that the use of leavened bread and intinction are not compatible practices.
At Holy Communion, we would strongly urge that the impulse to preface the communion sentence with the communicant’s baptismal name be resisted. No cleric or other minister will ever be able to know or recall each and every communicant’s name, and to omit some names while mentioning others creates a two-tier system while the eucharist is meant to witness to the unity of a single community. Our liturgical practices should never vitiate our theology. In these days of sensitivity about personal space and touching, clergy should probably not touch the communicants in any way, including deliberately pressing the communion particle into the palm, stroking a hand, or giving a blessing in a way that could be misinterpreted or feel intrusive.
Lay chalice bearers and deacons never bless at the altar rail, or, for that matter, anywhere else.
It may be helpful to have not only a diagram of the credence table and how things are to be set up on it before the liturgy but also a diagram of the credence table which shows how the vessels are to be arranged after communion and before the ablutions after the service.
BOOKS WE PRINT AND USE
Books of Appropriate Size and Dignity:
The Prayer Book assumes that the lessons, including the gospel, will be read from books which fit the importance of what is being proclaimed. The Church Publishing Company provides a large print lectionary text called Eucharistic Readings and a Gospel Book called Gospel Readings for both the RSV and the New RSV translations of scripture. We strongly recommend the use of these books and congregations unable to afford them should apply to the commission for assistance in getting them. These books are not only large and impressive volumes, but they are easy to read, have all the options available, and are edited for clear proclamation.
Other books the parish might to create or to purchase:
A parish may wish to create a large book for use at the ministry of the Word of God. Such a book could be separate from the altar service book and be used for both Sunday and weekday services. If it were loose-leafed, supplemental texts could easily be added. Such a book might include the text of the first part of the liturgy from the opening acclamation to the peace, the collects for Sundays and Saints Days, which are available in large print on punched, fine paper from Church Publishing Company, and perhaps even the collects for the Lesser Feasts and Fasts. The Commission has these collects, from the book Lesser Feasts and Fasts, arranged on pages for easy insertion into a binder. Variant forms of the prayers of the people could be added, too. Having everything in a single book, perhaps on a small, inconspicuous reading stand in front of the celebrant’s chair, would enable the celebrant to keep his or her hands free and eliminate the somewhat unedifying practice of bending over and picking up first one book and then another. Like the lessons, the liturgy should be celebrated from books of appropriate size and dignity, and-portions of the liturgy should never be read from slips of paper.
There are as many ways to set up an altar book as there are celebrants and no one way is clearly best. Here are some points celebrants may wish to consider when setting up a book to be used at the altar, that is, from the presentation of the gifts to the conclusion of the rite. Two tabs glued to the appropriate pages for the Sursum Corda and the Lord’s Prayer will mark the two unchangeable landmarks in the liturgy. Then four ribbons could be used to mark the proper preface, the selected eucharistic prayer, and perhaps the postcommunion prayer and the blessing. Because of the way in which pages are turned, it is better to put the tabs on the edges of the page before the page on which the desired text appears. The Levenger Company (www.levenger.com) produces page markers which can designate texts without adding bulk to pages.
Each parish should own a copy of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. This book is good for three things. It contains the propers for all the holy days, it contains the propers for Lenten Weekdays, and the collects for the various days of Eastertide. Church Publishing also provides a lectionary book for the Lesser Feasts and Fasts and one for Various Occasions and Special Services. They are large books, 8’/z inches by 11 inches, and are better to use for public reading than the small paperback pocket book sized lectionaries which are also published.
The Book of Occasional Services contains many resources. Commonly used items which come from this wonderful book include the seasonal blessings at the end of the eucharist, Stations of the Cross, texts for the Maundy Thursday foot-washing, altar stripping, and agape supper, and forms of blessing various objects and celebrating various lay ministries.
Service leaflets should be designed to meet the needs of a visitor. You may wish to consider exactly what needs to be in the leaflet and what need not be. In some places, the leaflet only indicates those places where a page or book change is called for or provides those things which the congregation is to say or to sing. We suggest that they be stapled together not simply folded with inside pages and inserts enclosed so that the first thing that happens is that two UTO envelopes and one lectionary insert fall on the floor. Putting page numbers consistently on one side of the page, and indicating which color book is the prayer book and which the hymnal can help visitors. If readings must be available to be followed by the congregation, and if computer resources are available, we suggest that the readings be printed directly into the leaflet, rather than printed on a loose insert
Each congregation should consider having, in the sacristy a pronouncing guide and dictionary for biblical names. One good one is A Guide to Pronouncing Biblical Names by T. S. K. Scott-Craig, published by Morehouse. There are also books which, Sunday by Sunday, give background material on each reading, highlighting information which the reader may find useful in making decisions about style of presentation. For example, a reading about the delights of the love of a man for a woman from the Song of Songs should probably be proclaimed in a different style than a prediction about the devastating exile of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem. Note, however, that there is no rubrical permission for reading introductory material before the readings. To do so not only insults the intelligence of those perfectly capable of understanding what is being read, but also interrupts the flow of the rite and confuses the proclamation of the word of God with its homiletic presentation in the thoughtful and concise sermon which will follow.