top of page

Choral Corner #23: Why do we not serve from memory?

Clergy, readers and singers are forbidden from serving from memory; the appropriate service book must be open to the proper page, even if it is used primarily for reference at certain points, such as during the Trisagion Prayers and the Creed. There are several reasons for this. First, it reduces the risk of mistakes due to lapses in memory or concentration; very often, the omission, addition or change of a single word changes the entire meaning of a sentence, and this is less likely to occur when the words are being read from a book. The proscription against serving from memory extends even to the “secret” prayers said by the clergy inside the altar.

Serving from an approved liturgical book also assures the faithful that the clergy/reader/singers are not inventing or improvising anything, but are conducting the services decently, reverently and in order, according to the canons of the Orthodox Church, using formulas established by Holy Tradition. During the services, those serving from the books becoming living icons of the Lord, who said, “The word that you have heard is not Mine, but the word of the Father who sent Me,” (John 14:24) and also of the Holy Spirit, of whom Jesus Christ said, “He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.” (John 16:13-14)

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page