The Great Amen
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    Has anyone taken the new ICEL setting of the Great Amen and ..... well, made it great.

    My pastor has told me that they call it the Great Amen for a reason and it should be great sounding but should be singable by the congregation.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    But the liturgical books don't call it the Great Amen, do they?
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Well, that explains it: it's not called the Great Amen in any sort of official document or book.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Beat me to it, chonak. :)
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    OK, I guess I never searched it out.
    Where do you suppose that term comes from or have you never heard of it before?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    See this discussion, which included the following incredibly lucid commentary by one of the foremost liturgical and musical luminaries of our age...


    >> There is no GREAT amen.

    When a congregation fully and consciously participates in the Eucharistic Prayer by actually proclaiming it's communal assent to the prayers offered by the Priest, and does so actively, with a single, firm AMEN, chanted loudly for all of heaven to hear... I consider THAT "Amen" to be pretty freaking great.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    There is an argument for it. Jerome (and maybe some other patristic authors) spoke about how the Amen of the people sounded loudly.

    On the other hand, we're here to implement the current liturgical books, not to re-create an experience from the fourth century, as if later practice were defined as inferior to that.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Nothing in the current books suggests the Amen should not "sound loudly."
    There's just no reason to call it "Great" and sing it 3 or 6 times.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    ... let alone pad it with other texts ("alleluia", etc.)
  • The term "Great Amen" is used in paragraphs 21, 115a, and 178 of the document, "Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship." This document "was approved for publication by the full body of bishops at its November 2007 General Meeting..." as stated in the work's front matter.

    The predecessor document, "Music in Catholic Worship" (1972), states at paragraph 58: "The worshipers assent to the eucharistic prayer and make it their own in the Great Amen. To be most effective, the Amen may be repeated or augmented. Choirs may harmonize and expand upon the people's acclamation."

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    I wonder if we can avoid the usual descent into "it was never sent to Rome for recognitissimo"

    Probably not.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    Thank you, Fr. Chepponis. Does anyone know whether anything in the current Missal supports the 1972 suggestion of augmenting the Amen? (To repeat it is kosher, right?) I've looked briefly, but couldn't find anything to that effect.

    For Adam: Hi, Adam! :-)
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I'm sure Fr. Chepponis and a great many of us greybeards remember the Vatican II percursor to Mahrt, the irrepressable Fr. Eugene Walsh, SJ. When I think of the congealing of the American post-conciliar idiology, I think of his face first. He published a number of small pamphlet books (Pastoral Arts Associates IIRC) and the flagship book of that series had his conception of the "shape of the liturgy." And that was quite reflective of the new regard for the "amen" after the per ipsum. The last sentence of Fr. C's quote from MCW was taken quite literally, and not just by folkies and the neo SLJ's. GIA actually commissioned Richard Proulx to arrange faux-quotations of Palestrina, Victoria, Byrd et al with choral codas to commonly sung Masses of the era like his own COMMUNITY, the PEOPLES, the Dresden "amen", the "Threefold Amen" etc. Pure window dressing, but OTOH that was a nod to the maintenance of some great cathedral programs (we used them occasionally in Fresno in the late 80's.) But, that excess was elixar vitae for choristers who were being displaced by the emerging ensemble movement at the time.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    There's something to be grateful for! Thanks for the memory, Charles!
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,781
    The idea was seeded by Jungmann.
  • awruff
    Posts: 88
    At papal liturgies they oftentimes expand it so that "Amen" is sung three times by the congregation.
    Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • May I humbly offer . . .
    314 x 43 - 8K
  • I wonder if we can avoid the usual descent into "it was never sent to Rome for recognitissimo"

    ??? Not sure what this means ... cf this:

    What, then, are we to make of this document? We will all find the paragraphs we like and quote them, but their authority is ambiguous: when the document quotes established liturgical law, such as Musicam Sacram andthe General Instruction on the Roman Missal, their authority is secure; we might as well quote the respective documents. For the rest, since the bishops did not submit them for ratification to the Vatican, they are in a kind of limbo, not liturgical law, but ratified by the bishops. But perhaps like the doctrine of limbo itself, the document will find itself obsolete in due time. We might view it as a transitional document—the revival of Gregorian chant and excellent liturgical music will progress apace, and a subsequent document, though it may only restate the status quo, will have to accommodate those things Sacred Music has perpetually advocated: the sacred and the beautiful as represented by the priority of Gregorian chant and classical polyphony in the service of the liturgy.
  • the bishops reviewed over four hundred amendments, but they voted on the document without seeing the amended text. Originally it was proposed as binding liturgical law for the United States, which would have required Vatican confirmation, but it was decided not to present it as binding law but only as recommendation, thus avoiding the necessity of submitting it to the Vatican. The previous year, the bishops approved a directory for hymn texts and sent it for Vatican confirmation, which confirmation is yet to be received. It seems unlikely that the Vatican would have confirmed the present document, and thus they settled for a lesser status. The result is a document with extensive recommendations about the employment of music in the liturgy. It incorporates the views of many without reconciling them

    http://musicasacra.com/sttl/
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    And there we go. Another flog for the dead horse.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    I wonder if we can avoid the usual descent into "it was never sent to Rome for recognitissimo"


    ??? Not sure what this means

    ...followed by a bunch of the usual "it was never sent to Rome for recognitiwhirlimagisimo."


    Really?
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    With respect to all concerned, I think that many of us who have been around this forum for a long time tend to forget the fact that, even though we may feel that we have thrashed things to death years ago, there are many new participants who join every day (just click the "Activity" link at the top to see). I would wager that many of them have never heard the words recognitio, or GIRM, or Propers, etc.

    I think it would be prudent never to decry having a discussion merely because we have already had it. There are many threads here I skip because I have no interest in them. Everyone is free to do the same, and - NB - you don't HAVE to comment on every one of them.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    NB - you don't HAVE to comment on every one of them.


    That will really save me some time...

    Seriously, though- and Bach's post wasn't quite the usual over-rehearsed screed (though I dispute the authenticity of "not sure what this means")- there are some topics that spark the same bunch of screaming every time they come up. SttL and it's lack of recognitrolla is one of them. My good manners has so far refrained from naming names as to the usual worst offender on this front, but (proving I don't know everything) (un-)said person has yet to appear in this thread. Deo gratias.
    Thanked by 1DougS
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Oh- and to address gp's very valid point:
    My humble suggestion to all (for future reference) is that when one or another overly tired discussions come up, a quick link to the relevant past discussion with a "BTW, this has been covered" anchor text should be enough, unless there are genuinely new questions or issues to discuss.

    (and I will, one day, get a Sacred Music FAQ site up and running. My last attempt had some technical difficulties, but I'm looking at some software that mimics Stack Exchange)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    Incidentally, I've started collecting GIRM questions for a FAQ, so I'll post a draft shortly.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Re: xkcd

    So true, Chonak. I think most of us have fallen into that trap one time or another.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,443
    Dr. Ford : Very nice.

    Despite my tendencies to be a bit of a Whriligig-ite, I do like the idea of the 'Amen' after the doxology of the eucharistic prayer being prolonged slightly. Musically, I view it the same as a choral 'Deo gratias'; liturgically, its the conclusion of probably the most important part of the whole Mass, why shouldn't it have a little more emphasis than the 'Amen' after the collects, etc.?

    There is a nice one based on Sanctus VIII that I've heard sung; and some choirs have used the final 'Amen's from sets of Anglican 'Preces and Responses' to good effect. I think (if the choir is able and the pastor is willing) having a choral Sanctus, the mysterium fidei in plainchant, and a chorally extended Amen gives the eucharistic prayer a nice ballance and symmetry, which can be extended to the fraction as well:

    Choral : Sanctus
    Chant : Mysterium fidei
    Choral : Amen
    Chant : Pater
    Choral : Agnus Dei
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Also, from a strictly legalistic standpoint- I believe it is (almost) always legal to repeat things when sung. There's nothing illicit about a 15-minute, 37-fold Amen set to a calypso beat.

    Licitness is not always the issue.
    Thanked by 1Blaise
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    It must be legal to repeat, because if it were not, that would bar many polyphonic ordinaries, which the Church holds up as ideal next to chant.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood MariaRist
  • Of course it's legal to repeat the words when the music says so. Another "proof" is the Kyries, which are explicitly "allowed" to be 9-fold when the music says so (GIRM 52).

    What isn't legal is adding extra words gratuitously. Who remembers "A-a-a-men, Alleluuuuuuia, for ever and e-e-ever, for ever, Alleluia, for ever, and ever, Amen"? I'd almost forgotten it. A small gift from the new MR.
  • The Amen was originally instituted when choirs sang antiphonally, so each group had only sung half of the text. Amen was added so that they could all affirm the entire text.

    I think that we are getting off-base. To expect the people to sing more than one raises this Amen above others and would then also permit the people to sing, And with your spirit, and with your spirit and with your spirit.

    If a choir is singing an ornate setting of the Mass, then multiples would seem to be fine. The fact that those who wrote STTL lord and the previous document (thanks for posting these) reflect, like other things in the church, personal agendas that should have been deleted. Historic tradition should overrule contemporary anything!
  • I think one of the biggest problems in the liturgy today is a sense of "disjointedness". If a priest speaks the minor doxology and the choir and congregation then randomly sing the Amen ("Great" or otherwise), it's simply unnatural. The natural inflection of the priest in saying "forever and ever" will lead the congregation to speak "Amen", usually followed by the awkward moment where the choir comes in with some setting of the "Amen". Or if the priest sings the minor doxology and the choir comes in with a setting of the "Amen" that is completely unrelated to the doxology in key or mode, it's awkward and disjointed.

    The logical thing to do is for priest and choir to sing what is in the missal. If, however, a parish simply refuses to do so, I would hope that the priest would then sing another setting of the minor doxology that is in some way connected to whatever setting of the so-called "Great" Amen is used.

    And with all-due respect to Father Chepponis, I think it's been well-enough mentioned that the concept of a "Great" Amen is nowhere in any missal, rubric, or liturgical document, except "Sing to the Lord" and the now mercifully replaced "Music in Catholic Worship", neither of which hold any force, except that of "suggestions" of bishops, very few of whom are musicians. And yes, I am aware that experts in the field were consulted...but in the case of the most knowledgeable of sacred musicians, such as our own Dr. Marht, many of their suggestions were totally ignored...and when you ignore the suggestions of someone of such incredible knowledge of music, liturgy, and history as Dr. Mahrt, I tend to hold your suggestions in fairly low regard.

    Adam S.
    Thanked by 1Eric D. Williams
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    I agree with Adam. If you look at the missal, not only does it not call it the great amen, it doesn't differentiate it between any other amen throughout the Mass.

    No one would propose singing a grand Amen after the priest recites the prayer for peace (Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles). The Missal places those two amens on the same level.

    In both cases, the missal says that the people reply. No extra heading, no additional commentary, nothing. It's a simple amen.

    Who are we to dispute this?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Adam S., your points are well taken about the disjunct. I'm confident that dis-ease will remain as long a priest/celebrants ignore or disavow their primary responsibilities of the first order in Musicam Sacram.
    That said, do I mistakenly (I hope) detect some animus in your last remark? I don't seem to recall that suggestions, per se, were actually proffered in the thread. Just observations. If I'm wrong, excuse me, thanks.
    OTOH, we who hold to the principles Mahrt advances also have to responsibly address the rare occasion when we encounter (at colloquia, on televised major Masses, etc.) musical excesses that are clearly under the "sacred music" umbrella, but are programmed for art's sake, not the liturgy's. It does and has happened. I have felt that necessity for quite some time, but it was lately illustrated by my subscribing to a Guilliame Machaut channel on Pandora- it occured to me that virtually little of what Latin Rite music on that playlist could legitimately be dubbed appropriate for liturgy in the 21st century. Everything must be looked at objectively, IMHO
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    In the light of Ben's observation, I propose that henceforth the Amen after the doxology of the eucharistic prayer be known as The Simple Amen.
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • I cannot cite anything specific, but I know that there are patristic writings that attest to the importance of the people's Amen at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer.

    I am not saying that it ought to be performed differently from other Amens. Actually, I prefer that it not be. But the issue of how it is to be performed is distinct from assessment of its liturgical importance.

    Gloria XV is anaphoral chant, closely related to the music given for the Words of Institution in the Roman Missal; yet it would be absurd to suggest that the Gloria and the Eucharistic Prayer are, therefore, of equal importance.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    I have heard Orthodox (Eastern that is) theologians say that the congregation's Amen at that point is of utmost importance, almost suggesting that the whole consecration is only valid when the people assent to it.

    (added: It was Kalistos Ware, in a posting at NLM, where I first heard this explanation.)

    IN MY OPINION the importance of the Amen at this point, and the importance of the congregation in regards to the Mass and the Eucharistic Prayer, is precisely why I favor a simple, chanted Amen (assuming the doxology was chanted). Turning it into an opportunity for the congregation to amuse itself with a bunch of singing apart from the prayer denigrates and separates the Amen from the prayer that precedes it. The congregation joins in the priestly activity by assenting to the Amen, so the congregation ought to sing (and behave) in a priestly manner.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    Yes, Bruce, St. Jerome wrote once that in the Roman basilicas the Amen of the people resounded like thunder. (It's quoted in a footnote in Jungmann's Mass of the Roman Rite.)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    St. Jerome wrote once that in the Roman basilicas the Amen of the people resounded like thunder. (It's quoted in a footnote in Jungmann's Mass of the Roman Rite.)


    Do we know that they are talking about the same "great Amen' as in OF?
    Then, why not in EF?
    Are there any particular reasons we are going back to certain practices of the early church? It seems to me that many practices cannot be taken out of the context just because they did them when many things were not settled and temporary at that time.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,798
    Yes, Mia; that quote by itself seems a thin reed to rely on. If you haven't read the encyclical Mediator Dei yet, you'll be interested to see that it raises some of the same questions about attempting to restore bygone practices.
    Thanked by 1miacoyne
  • Adam W...exactly....if this Amen is of the utmost importance, then the simpler the better. It should be made easy to sing and of obvious. The two note Amen from the missal is incredibly simple and is an obvious end to the doxology in the missal...thus creating the perfect opportunity for as many people to sing as possible.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood francis
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,037
    The two note Amen from the missal is what we use. We just sing it, we don't try to analyze it. It is simple, and it works.