The EASIEST and MOST EFFECTIVE change you can make!
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I think this lives up to the headline. I've made some progress in my parish through much infighting: Jubilate Deo ordinary, congregational introits, no more Glory & Praise music, psalms at communion and chanted propers. But many of those tasks can seem insurmountable to the beginner on the road to reform. So let me offer one of the changes I made which is so simple but goes so far in fixing up the liturgy:

    Ditch the "Great Amen".

    It's so very simple. Nothing in the GIRM, rubrics, or tradition (that I know of) requires the congregation to sing "Amen" more than once at any point in the Mass. Yet today every Catholic pewsitter knows that the IMPORTANT part of the Mass ISN'T the words "This is My Body" but when you have four chords and sing "A-A-MEN, A-A-MEN, A-A-A-MENNNN" and then repeat it. I've even heard catechists say that THAT is the point where the bread becomes the Body. Oh, and the scores for these "Great Amens" always have FFF as the closing dynamic. This HORRIBLY imbalances the Mass!

    So when your priest sings "Through him, with him, in him" to the simple tone, just respond on the same note he used as the reciting tone: "Amen." If he uses the solemn tone (with the slurs on some syllables), respond according to the pitch he ends on "A-me-" and then move up a whole tone "-en." It's all so simple, no one can object to it if it's done routinely, and it makes SUCH a difference in how the Mass is perceived by the congregation.

    I'd add as well that there's some sense in using the "Great Amen" for a festal Mass, say Easter. I've even used them with the Latin Canon. But as a general practice, a chanted "Amen." puts the emphasis BACK on the Eucharistic Prayer rather than on the response to it, as it should be.

    Getting rid of the bombastic Memorial Acclamation is quite a bit trickier, but the "Amen" at least gives you some inroads into reforming other parts of your music at Mass.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343

    However, I've tried this and run into a snag: congregations in my neck of the woods (Canada) are already familiar with a triple Amen that's been in our official national hymnal for years and which begins with a slurred major second. So we start in with the simple Amen and stop...and the congregation takes it as a cue to go into the full blown threefold amen!

    A compromise to get around this is the inoffensive triple amen in Ford's By Flowing Waters which is his own composition, I think. Congregations pick up on it quickly, and at least it doesn't end in a fortissimo flourish!
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Agreed. My strategy for change has been to introduce something new during Advent or Lent, and then "forget" to change it again when we go into the next season. This season it's the simple "Amen."

    And ditch that Christ has Died (if it's set to the same music) for the Sacramentary chant. Imagine singing "Christ has died" to the Danish Amen tune, and then not the Amen itself (the same can be said of Heritage, Community, and Creation Masses as well as several others that use the same trick). That might make some people feel like something was missing.
  • Wow, this is so true. It was the first thing we did. Makes a huge difference!