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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back - silent worship

Looking Back

Friday, January 31 2014

Looking Back: Silent Worship

From February 1959

It's always Silent Worship


IN a Glasgow church last Sunday the congregation met for worship as usual and took part in the hymns with as much fervour as any other group of church members in the city but not a voice was heard. The congregation of the Deaf and Dumb Institute church in West Regent Street cannot worship with their lips – they must worship with their hearts alone!

The service is conducted by their minister, the Rev. J. S. Lochrie, whose parents were deaf and dumb, and who has developed the remarkable ability to think simultaneously in speech and sign language. He uses both in his services and the congregation stand for prayers and praise. A precentor leads the “singing” by “reading” the words of the hymns in sign language.

More than 400 people from Glasgow and surrounding areas attend the services. There are similar services throughout Scotland including the principal cities.

The Glasgow Institute is the centre of a varied social service on behalf of the deaf and dumb. As well as being a social centre it acts as an employment agency for the handicapped. The minister is assisted by a state registered nurse and both act as “interpreters” for those requiring hospital treatment.

The deaf have their own shoe repair business in Glasgow competing on favourable terms with ordinary firms and a collection and delivery service is run all over the city, from Balloch in the west to Wishaw and Hamilton in the east. This is under the auspices of the Scottish Association for the Deaf, a body which looks after their national interests.

The deaf and dumb of Scotland overcome their handicaps in a remarkable way, making a distinctive contribution to the life of the community, and their worship Sunday by Sunday is probably all the more real because it is silent.

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