Friday, May 20, 2011

"Great Amen"

So, at most Catholic churches, the "Great Amen" at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer is taken as an opportunity to bring out all the bells and whistles and to make the loudest most complicated setting of music for a two syllable word ever.

I suspect that this tradition originated with some quote from St. Jerome about this particular "Amen" making the pagan temples tremble, or something like that.

However, at St. P, for pretty much the whole time I have been there, we have been singing the simple two-tone "A-me-en" that is the appropriate response to the tone on which the priest sang the final doxology. I wonder what people notice when they hear that and are used to hearing a much more complicated and un-chant-like version?

For myself, now that I am used to it, I am always struck with appropriateness and ease with which it is sung. In fact, I find that when I go to other parishes and the priest sings the doxology, and my mouth opens in preparation to sing the final, easy, fluid Amen, I am literally *jarred* when the instruments interrupt loudly to introduce us to some loud, completely unrelated, musical ditty.

And to those who might argue that this "simple Amen" is not "resounding" enough to qualify within the writings of church history? Well, you should have been at my church for confirmation this week when the bishop sang the doxology. The church was completely packed, and let me tell you, boy, did that "Amen" resound. It was the most natural thing in the world. Every single person sang it, and not one felt "forced." A glorious sound to attempt to sum up the majesty of the Consecration.

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