Liturgy We Live
by Dr. Gil Haas

Some Episcopalians bow at various times during worship. These reverences are neither required nor suggested by the BCP. One common reverence stems from Paulʼs statement in Philippians that “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow...” which has become associated with a bow at the mention of Jesusʼs name. Some traditions also suggest bowing when the processional cross passes or at the invocation of the trinity (which occurs in the final phrase of the doxology or during any hymn). Many bow during the preceding and concluding responses before and after the Gospel. Besides a bow at the mentioning of Jesusʼs name in the Creed, some also bow at the phrase “worshiped and glorified” associated with the Holy Spirit. As a sign of worship, some bow during the “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts” in the Sanctus. In acknowledgement of Christʼs Eucharistic gift, some bow during the Eucharistic prayerʼs words of institution, “For in the night...” to “ this in remembrance of me.” Reverences assist only if they augment or echo thoughts and prayers. They should never be inferred to be rules. A plethora of less commonly practiced reverences exist, but that is for another time.