Interpreting in Church

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

When I was a professional RID-certified interpreter, I found interpreting church services to be the most difficult of all. That is because the interpreter needs a large Biblical vocabulary to convey spiritual concepts as well as concrete concepts.

Here are a few examples of single signs and fingerspelling of concrete ideas: God, Jesus, the names of the 66 books in the authorized version, verse, chapter, and the names or name signs of the people found within those books. Generally speaking, each is represented by one sign.

On the other hand, spiritual concepts need more than one concrete sign to convey the meaning of the word(s). Some examples are: born again (inside heart become new) sanctify (become holy, pure), glorify (exalt, honor, worship), and tribulation (problems, suffering, pain).

While I no longer interpret a full worship service, I occasionally interpret a hymn or song in American Sign Language (ASL). If you wish to see me interpret a song at my church recently, you can do so by clicking this link The recorded song I interpreted is “I’ve Just Seen Jesus” by Larnelle Harris and Sandy Patti. I wore a dark outfit for contrast to make my signing clearer and wore no visually distracting jewelry of any kind. Obviously, to interpret a recorded song requires hours of practice beforehand. One must first decide on the signs to use, then practice using them to match the tempo, the timing, and the vocal inflections of the singers. In essence, the interpreter "becomes" the singer(s). My interpretation was well-received. I hope you enjoy it, too!