An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Chancel Rail

Low railing or lattice-work that separates the chancel from the nave in a traditionally designed church. The term “chancel,” a liturgical space near the altar for clergy and choir, is from the Latin cancellus, “lattice.” The chancel was separated from the nave in medieval churches by a rood screen or choir screen. Orthodox churches still use screens to separate the areas of chancel and nave. Many western churches have done away with the chancel rail to emphasize that clergy, choir, and people are one community of prayer.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.