REVERENCES AND BOWING DURING THE EPISCOPAL SERVICE - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Reverences are often practiced, but not required by the Book of Common Prayer. One common reverence stems from Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he stated, “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow...” which has become associated with a simple bow (nodding of the head without bending at the waist) at the mention of Jesus’ name. Some traditions also suggest a simple bow when the processional cross passes or at the invocation of the trinity. Many perform a moderate bow (where one’s shoes can be seen) during the preceding and concluding responses before and after the Gospel. Some also perform a simple bow at ”God” and “worshiped and glorified” during the Nicene Creed. As a sign of worship, some perform a profound bow (one could touch one’s knees) during the “Holy, Holy, Holy” at the Sanctus and upon entering and leaving a pew. In acknowledgement of Christ’s Eucharistic gift to us, some perform a profound bow during the Eucharistic prayer’s words of institution, “For in the night...etc” (Catholic) and in acknowledgement of the invocation of the Holy Spirit (Orthodox). Reverences should never be inferred to be rules, but they are simply individualized signs of worship.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church