On How To Do Reader Services
Note: These comments are based on Bishop Daniel’s Reader Service Typikon; however, there are a number of variant practices when it comes to doing reader services, and so this is not to be taken as the last word on the subject.
How should you arrange things for Reader Services?
An analogion is placed before the Royal Doors with a Cross and the Gospel book on it. If the Church has no priest, the analogion is placed immediately in front of the Royal Doors when there is no service taking place, and is moved more to the center of the Church, when there is.
In a home, one could either place this in front of an icon corner, or they could arrange a wall with icons somewhat along the lines of an iconostasis. If one is traveling, one can set up icons if they have them, or else simply face east.
When serving Typika, a table can be set off to the side with holy water and prosphora so that at the end of the service those present who have fasted can partake of them.
What about censing?
Only a hand censer should be used – not a priest’s censer – even if a deacon is doing the censing.
When censing, the censer is held in the right hand, and the sign of the cross is made with the censer over whatever he is censing. Then the censer is placed in the left hand, and he makes the sign of the cross and bows… unless he is censing the people, in which case he makes the sign of the cross with the censer only, and then bows to the people without signing himself.
Censing always begins and ends with the Cross and the Gospel. If in a Church, the Royal Doors are never opened, nor are the curtains. The inside of the altar is never censed. If there is an iconostasis to cense, cense the Royal doors first, then the icons to the right, then the icons to the left.
When doing a full censing, the order of censing is: the Cross and the Gospel, the main icons (or the Iconostasis if there is one), the people, the other walls of the room, the main icons again, and then the Cross and the Gospel.
When a lesser censing is done, the order of censing is: The Cross and the Gospel, the main icons, the people, the main icons again, then the Cross and the Gospel.
Generally, you can cense whenever a censing would normally be done if a priest were serving. At a vigil, you would do a full censing at the beginning of Vespers, at “Lord I have cried…”, at the Polyeleos (or the Evlogitaria), and at the 9th Ode of the canon. You do not cense after the Dogmaticon at “Lord I have cried…” because that censing is for an entrance, and entrances are not done at reader services. A Full censing is also done at the 6th hour and a lesser censing is done during the Epistle (or during the Alleluias) at Typika.
Who is the “Senior Reader”?
The Senior Reader is who ever is the most senior present at the service who is willing to participate actively in the service. If a Deacon is present, he is the senior “reader”. A deacon does not vest during these services (because there is no bishop or priest present to bless him to vest), and he serves the services in no way different than would a simple reader or layman (e.g litanies are not done). If there is no sub-deacon or reader present, then whoever is the eldest (and willing to serve) is senior.
What if I am doing Typika all by myself?
Then you are the “senior reader,” the “reader,” and “the Choir”. See also this page on doing services at home. Also, to maintain the flow of the service, you probably would want to limit your censing to the very beginning of the service if there is no one else to read at the times when censing would otherwise be done.
What books do I need?
See my article “Practical Tips on Building a Liturgical Library”. If you don’t have a text, chances are good that you can find it online by looking at what is available on the “Online Liturgical Resources” page. The most basic texts for doing reader services are to be found in the Online Reader Service Horologion.