Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Good Read(er)

by CWK

Here's a selection of quotes on how to read aloud for others. I'm indebted to Bryan Chapell's article, "The Incarnate Voice," for pointing out the quotes, and shaping my ideas on this subject.

So, what makes for a good reader? See the quotes below for the long answer. Here's the short answer: A good public reader is one who reads with comprehension in their own unique voice in way faithful to the author's voice.


"To read well is a rare accomplishment.  It is much more common to excel in singing or in public speaking.  Good preachers are numerous compared with good readers.  The requisites to good reading are several.  First, one must have great quickness of apprehension . . . ."

-- John A. Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, rev. ed. Jesse B. Weatherspoon (Hodder and Stoughton, 1944), 360.

"The reader needs to understand that it is not he that is speaking, but the selection... 
"It is not the reader's task to alter or embellish the selection but rather to restrict himself to the content of the selection as it is actually expressed.”

-- Harold A. Brack, Effective Oral Interpretation for Religious Leaders (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964), 16. 

They write, "The ideal of the interpreter should be to do what the writer would do if he were a competent speaker and could meet face to face in conversation those who are to read what he writes."

-- C. H. Woolbert and S.E. Nelson, The Art of Interpretive Speech (New York : F.S. Crofts, 1929), 19. 

It is not, indeed, desirable that in reading the Bible, for example, or anything which is not intended to appear as his [i.e., the reader's] own composition, he should deliver what are, avowedly, another's sentiments in the same style, as if they were such as arose in his own mind; but it is desirable that he should deliver them as if he were reporting another's sentiments, which were both fully understood, and felt in all their force by the reporter . . . .

-- Harold A. Brack, Effective Oral Interpretation for Religious Leaders (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964), 16. 

Do not strive to impersonate the author . . . . As a reader you are an interpreter speaking the thoughts of the author and recreating his moods; but you speak as yourself, with your own identity, just as you sing music that some other person has composed ... Your interpretation of the passage may be different from that of someone else . . . .  You even have the privilege of interpreting the same material differently at different times . . . provided you do not distort the intended meaning of the author. 

-- Lantz

Check out the article that inspired this post:

Bryan Chapell, The Incarnate Voice: An Exhortation for Excellence in the Oral Reading of ScripturePresbyterion 14: 42-57 (1988).

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