Genuflecting and Bowing


I wasn’t sure whether this was more appropriate here or in “Traditional Catholicism,” but I figured either would work.

I’m an Anglican musician, and on occasion, some of the ensembles in which I sing will rehearse in Catholic churches. In my own (Episcopalian) church, I know the standard places in the liturgy and at other times to reverence the altar with a bow and to genuflect when entering/exiting and passing the tabernacle housing the Host (though this can be odd in my church as the tabernacle is placed on the side wall adjacent to the altar, so one never really passes in front of it . . . or do you, it’s just oddly placed).

Anyway, when rehearsing in a Catholic church, how similarly ought I to behave in terms of reverencing the altar or genuflecting toward the Host in the tabernacle? I’m used to bowing toward the altar/cross whenever crossing in front of it, no matter how far back in the church I may be. Should this be carried over to genuflecting as well?

Similarly, if we are spending the majority of our time at either the crossing or the chancel in front of the altar (but staying there, generally singing in an arc), would these actions best be done at the beginning and end of rehearsal alone?

All in all, I feel the need to show respect to the Lord and the symbols of the same, but I’m just not as certain in a Catholic church as I am in an Anglican church.



I am a former Episcopalian but it NEVER called myself a Protestant. But even now as a ex Anglo-Catholic I think my actions in church are more reverent than some Catholics. Like I still bow to the cross as it passes in procession.

Catholics genuflect toward the tabernacle, and only bow when their is none (like when it’s in a separate blessed Sacrament chapel.) But they don’t do both all of the time.

Hope this made sense.


I came from a Methodist background, and when I registered, that’s what I was. I would no longer consider myself Protestant [EDIT: Updated my profile]. :-p

That being said, I know that genuflecting takes precedence rather than a double gesture, at least that’s the practice at my current church, but I’m more wondering whether it’s something that is as universally applied (e.g., every time one crosses in front of the altar and/or tabernacle, as I’m used to) or merely one-and-done so to speak. And if one is stationed a little more permanently in the chancel, as a choir rehearsing or in concert, what the convention would be there (i.e., only before starting rehearsal and then again when ending, or every time there is a shift of positions in the rehearsal arc that causes one to cross the side of the chancel, or some other guideline)?


I’m a Roman Catholic and this is what I do… We actually have 3 worship spaces in our parish and a blessed sacrament chapel. I genuflect facing the tabernacle when I enter the sacred space (because God is present) when I dip my hand in the baptismal font and bless myself with the sign of the cross and also when I am about to enter the pew. In one sacred space where the font is outside the entrance of the Church, I bless myself with the Holy Water and then genuflect when I am in the doorway of the Church facing the tabernacle behind the altar. If I didn’t know where the tabernacle is in another Church I might visit I would genuflect towards the altar (because God is present in the sacred space). When I pass the blessed sacrament Chapel there is a candle in the doorway which is inline with the tabernacle so whenever I pass it I bow to pay homage to Jesus and to say hello and thank you Jesus…! If I go into the blessed sacrament chapel I would genuflect in front of the tabernacle.

It’s important to remember to genuflect with the right knee towards the ground in reverence to Jesus Our King. Historically, if one needed to genuflect to an earthly royal, that would be done on the left knee. We do not genuflect towards Mary or a Saint, but may bow to honor them.


We are in the choir. Middle right.
We make the Sign of the Cross with Holy Water
upon entering. Then I walk Diwns the aisle to the choir pew
and genuflect to the Lord (right knee down please) and
enter the pew. Then kneel, sign and pray.
At Communion I bow. At the wording of the Trinity
a deep bow and a slight bow of the head at the
mention of any saint by name or the Annunciation/Incarnation.
When I leave to go home genuflect again outside the
This all remains whether it is merely rehearsal or

Eucharistic Adoration
If the Host is exposed, one should genuflect on both knees.

Hope that helps.

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