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In the Christian Church, the lectern is usually the stand on which the Bible rests and from which the "lessons" (scripture passages, often selected from a lectionary) are read during the service. The lessons may be read or chanted by a priest, deacon, minister, or layperson, depending upon the liturgical traditions of the community. The lectern is normally set in front of the pews, so that the reader or speaker faces the congregation.
Lecterns are often made of wood. They may be either fixed in place or portable. A lectern differs from a pulpit, the latter being used for sermons. Churches that have both a lectern and a pulpit will often place them on opposite sides. The lectern will generally be smaller than the pulpit, and both may be adorned with antipendia in the color of the liturgical season.
In monastic churches and cathedrals, a separate lectern is commonly set in the centre of the choir. Originally this would have carried the antiphonal book, for use by the cantor or precentor leading the singing of the divine office. Lecterns often take the form of eagle lecterns to symbolise John the Apostle. Especially in North America and Great Britain lecterns are sometimes made as 'angel lecterns'.
In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, a lectern on which icons or the Gospel Book are placed for veneration is called an analogion. It may also be used for reading from liturgical books during the divine services.