An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A liturgical answer or statement that responds to a prayer, bidding, or reading. The response may be paired with and follow a versicle. For example, Suffrages A and B in Morning Prayer each contain a series of versicles and responses (BCP, pp. 97-98). The initial letter “R” indicates the responses in these suffrages and in other pairs of versicles and responses (see, e.g., BCP, p. 569). Noonday Office and Evening Prayer begin with the versicle, “O God, make speed to save us,” and the response, “O Lord, make haste to help us” (BCP, pp. 103, 117). This versicle and response, which is based on Ps 70:1, also follows the confession of sin at the beginning of Compline (BCP, p. 128).

The readings from scripture at Noonday Office and Compline are followed by the people’s response, “Thanks be to God.” After each lesson at Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the eucharist, the reader may say, “The Word of the Lord,” and the people answer, “Thanks be to God.” The reader may also say, “Here ends the Lesson (or reading),” to which no verbal response is made by the people. After the deacon or priest announces the gospel at the eucharist, the people answer, “Glory to you, Lord Christ.” After the gospel is read or sung, the reader says, “The Gospel of the Lord,” and the people answer, “Praise to you, Lord Christ.” The customary responses before and after the gospel are omitted on Palm Sunday and Good Friday (BCP, pp. 272, 277).

Intercessions and other prayers may also have a response. For example, the biddings of the prayers of the people, Form V, are followed by the people’s response, “Lord, have mercy” (BCP, p. 389). At the Ordination of a Bishop, the people respond to questions by the Presiding Bishop, answering that it is their will that the bishop-elect be ordained a bishop and that they will uphold the bishop-elect as bishop (BCP, p. 514).

In addition to fixed liturgical responses, there are also occasions when a response may be a personal statement. A response to the scripture readings may follow the gospel at a Marriage (BCP, p. 426). Responses may be made to the sermon at a Celebration of New Ministry (BCP, p. 560). At the Dedication and Consecration of a Church, the bishop may respond to the plans of the congregation for witness to the gospel by indicating the place of the congregation within the life of the diocese (BCP, p. 576).

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.