A pulpit (from
Latin"pulpitum" "scaffold", "platform", "stage") is a small elevated platform where a member of the clergy stands in order to read the Gospellesson and deliver a sermon.
Christianchurches, there are two speakers who stand at the front of the church. Typically, the one on the left (as viewed by the congregation) is called the pulpit. Since the Gospel lesson is often read from the pulpit, the pulpit side of the church is sometimes called the "gospel side".
The other speaker's stand, usually on the right (as viewed by the congregation), is known as the
lectern. The word "lectern" comes from the Latin word meaning "to read", because the lectern primarily functions as a reading stand. It is typically used by lay people to read the scripture lessons (except for the Gospel lesson), to lead the congregation in prayer, and to make announcements. Because the epistle lesson is usually read from the lectern, the lectern side of the church is sometimes called the "epistle side". [ [http://www.ghostproxy2.com/cgi/nph-ghost.cgi/000110A/http/www.fisheaters.com/churchbuilding.html#altar Inside your Church] from fisheaters.com] In other churches, the lectern, from which the Epistleis read, is located to the congregation's left and the pulpit, from which the sermon is delivered, is located on the right (the Gospel being read from either the center of the chancel or in front of the altar).
Protestantchurches, the pulpit is considered the most important piece of furniture in the sanctuary. It is situated central to the congregation and raised. It is where the minister stands and may be decorated with a ' pulpit fall'- a piece of cloth that covers the top of the pulpit and hangs down the front. Flowers may also stand in front of the pulpit.
In the eighteenth century triple-decker pulpits were often introduced in English speaking countries. The three levels of lecterns were intended to show the relative importance of the readings delivered there. The bottom tier was for community announcements, the middle for the gospel, and the top tier was reserved for the delivery of the sermon.
In many Evangelical Christian churches, the pulpit stands squarely in the center of the platform, and is generally the largest piece of church furniture. This is to symbolize the proclamation of the Word of God as the central focus of the weekly
service of worship. In more contemporary evangelical churches, the pulpit may be much smaller, if used at all, and is generally carried out after the end of the song service. However, it usually is placed in the center of the platform as well.
"From the pulpit" is often used
metaphorically for something which is said with official church authority.
In churches where there is only one speaker's stand in the center of the front of the church, it serves the functions of both lectern and pulpit and is properly called the ambo. In common usage, however, ambos are incorrectly called pulpits.
The word "ambo" comes from a Greek word meaning an elevation. It was originally an elaborate raised platform in the middle of the nave from which the
Epistleand Gospelwould be read, and was occasionally used as a speaker's platform for homilies. It was joined to the sanctuaryby a raised walkway called the "soleas". In modern Eastern Christian use, this form of the ambo is now very rare. Instead, the area directly in front of the Beautiful Gates of the iconostasisfrom which the Gospel is typically read is called the ambo, and the entire low elevation above the level of the navein front of the iconostasis is called the soleas. In larger churches, the ambo might be distinguished by three curved steps from which one might reach it from the nave. [ [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01382a.htm Catholic Encyclopædia: Ambo (in the Russian and Greek Church)] ]
In Eastern Orthodox
cathedrals there is usually a low platform in the center of the nave called the "episcopal ambo" where the bishopis vested prior to the Divine Liturgyand where he is enthroned until the Little Entrance. If the bishop is serving in a simple parish church, an episcopal ambo is set temporarily in place.
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