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The word Amen (pronounced /ˌɑːˈmɛn/ or /ˌeɪˈmɛn/; Hebrew: אָמֵן, Modern Amen Tiberian ’Amen ; Arabic: آمين‎, ’Āmīn ; "So be it; truly") is a declaration of affirmation[1][2] found in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Its use in Judaism dates back to its earliest texts.[3] It has been generally adopted in Christian worship as a concluding word for prayers and hymns.[2] In Islam, it is the standard ending to Dua (supplication). Common English translations of the word amen include: "Verily", "Truly", "So say we all", "So be it", and "Let it be." It can also be used colloquially to express strong agreement,[2] as in, for instance, amen to that.[4]

Contents

Pronunciation

In English, the word "amen" has two primary pronunciations, ah-men (/ɑːˈmɛn/) or ay-men (/eɪˈmɛn/), with minor additional variation in emphasis (the two syllables may be equally stressed instead of placing primary stress on the second). The ah-men pronunciation is usual in British English, the one that is used in performances of classical music, in churches with more formalized rituals and liturgy and liberal Evangelical Protestant denominations. The ay-men pronunciation, a product of the Great Vowel Shift dating to the 15th century, is associated with Irish Protestantism and conservative Evangelical Protestant denominations generally, and the pronunciation that is typically sung in gospel music. Increasingly Anglophone Roman Catholics are adopting[citation needed] the "ay-men" pronunciation for speech, although the broad "ah" is usually retained for singing.

Amen is also used in standard, international French; however, in the Cajun French dialect, Ainsi soit-il (literally, so be it), or the Québec French dialect, Ainsi soit-il, is used instead.

Etymology

Amen, meaning so be it, is of Hebrew origin.[5][6] The word was imported into the Greek of the early Church from the Jewish synagogue.[1][7] From Greek, amen entered the other Western languages. According to a standard dictionary etymology, amen passed from Greek into Late Latin, and then into English.[8]

The Hebrew word amen derives from the Hebrew verb ’aman’, a primitive root.[9] Grammarians frequently list ’aman under its three consonants (’mn), which are identical to those of ’amen (note that the Hebrew letter א alph originally represented a glottal stop sound, which functioned as a consonant in the morphology of Hebrew).[8] This triliteral root (’mn) means to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe. Two English words that derive from this root are:

a. amen, from Hebrew ’amen (=truly, certainly); b. Mammon, from Aramaic mamona, probably from Mishnaic Hebrew mamôn, probably from earlier *ma’mon (=? “security, deposit”).

Both a and b derive from Hebrew ’aman (=to be firm).

Popular among some theosophists,[10] proponents of Afrocentric theories of history,[11] and adherents of esoteric Christianity [12][13] is the conjecture that amen is a derivative of the name of the Egyptian god Amun (which is sometimes also spelled Amen). Some adherents of Eastern religions believe that amen shares roots with the Sanskrit word, aum.[14] There is no academic support for either of these views.[8][15]

Armenian word ամեն (pronounced /ˌɑːmˈɛn/) means every, however it is used in the same form for ending of prayers.[16]

Biblical usage

Old Testament

Three distinct Biblical usages of amen may be noted:[1]

  1. Initial Amen, referring back to words of another speaker and introducing an affirmative sentence, e.g. 1 Kings 1:36.[1]
  2. Detached Amen, again referring to the words of another speaker but without a complementary affirmative sentence, e.g. Nehemiah 5:13.[1]
  3. Final Amen, with no change of speaker, as in the subsciption to the first three divisions of Psalms.[1]

In the New Testament

There are 52 Amens in the Synoptic Gospels and 25 in John. The five final Amens (Matthew 6:13, 28:20, Mark 16:20, Luke 24:53 and John 21:25), which are wanting in the best manuscripts, simulate the effect of final amen in the Hebrew Psalms. All initial Amens occur in the sayings of Jesus. These initial Amens are unparalleled in Hebrew literature, according to Friedrich Delitzsch, because they do not refer to the words of a previous speaker but instead introduce a new thought.[17]

The uses of amen ("verily") in the Gospels form a peculiar class; they are initial, but often lack any backward reference.[18] Jesus used the word to affirm his own utterances[citation needed], not those of another person[citation needed], and this usage was adopted by the church. The use of the initial amen, single or double in form, to introduce solemn statements of Jesus in the Gospels had no parallel in Jewish practice.[19]

In the King James Bible, the word amen is preserved in a number of contexts. Notable ones include:

  • The catechism of curses of the Law found in Deuteronomy 27.[1]
  • A double amen ("amen and amen") occurs in Psalm 89 (Psalm 41:13; 72:19; 89:52), to confirm the words and invoke the fulfillment of them.[20]
  • The custom of closing prayers with amen originates in the Lord's Prayer at Matthew 6:13
  • Amen occurs in several doxology formulas in Romans 1:25, 9:5, 11:36, 15:33, and several times in Chapter 16.[1] It also appears in doxologies in the Pss (41:14; 72:19; 89:53; 106:48). This liturgical form from Judaism.[21]
  • It concludes all of Paul's general epistles.
  • In Revelation 3:14, Jesus is referred to as, "the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation."
  • Amen concludes the New Testament at Rev. 22:21.

Amen in Judaism

Jewish law requires an individual to say Amen in a variety of contexts.[22]

Liturgically, amen is a communal response to be recited at certain points during the prayer service. It is recited communally to affirm a blessing made by the prayer reader. It is also mandated as a response during the kaddish doxology. The congregation is sometimes prompted to answer 'amen' by the terms ve-'imru (Hebrew: ואמרו‎) = "and [now] say (pl.)," or, ve-nomar (ונאמר) = "and let us say." Contemporary usage reflects ancient practice: As early as the 4th century BCE, Jews assembled in the Temple responded 'amen' at the close of a doxology or other prayer uttered by a priest. This Jewish liturgical use of amen was adopted by the Christians.[19] But Jewish law also requires individuals to answer amen whenever they hear a blessing recited, even in a non-liturgical setting.

The Talmud teaches homiletically that the word Amen is an acronym for אל מלך נאמן (’El melekh ne’eman, "God, trustworthy King"),[23] the phrase recited silently by an individual before reciting the Shma.

Jews usually pronounce the word as it is pronounced in Hebrew: /ɔːˈmeɪn/ aw-MAYN (Ashkenazi) or /ɑːˈmɛn/ ah-MEN (Sephardi).[24]

Amen in Christianity

The use of "Amen" has been generally adopted in Christian worship as a concluding word for prayers and hymns and express strong agreements.

"Amen". Encyclopædia Britannica.. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.. 2008. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9006072/amen. Retrieved 2008-03-17. </ref> The liturgical use of the word in apostolic times is attested by the passage from 1 Corinthians cited above, and Justin Martyr (c. 150) describes the congregation as responding "amen," to the benediction after the celebration of the Eucharist.[1] Its introduction into the baptismal formula (in the Greek Orthodox Church it is pronounced after the name of each person of the Trinity) is probably later. Among certain Gnostic sects Amen became the name of an angel.

In Isaiah 65:16, the authorized version has "the God of truth," ("the God of Amen," in Hebrew. Jesus often used Amen to put emphasis to his own words (translated: "verily"). In John's Gospel, it is repeated, "Verily, verily." Amen is also used in oath (Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Nehemiah 5:13; 8:6; 1 Chronicles 16:36). "Amen" is further found at the end of the prayer of primitive churches (1 Corinthians 14:16).[20]

In some Christian churches, the amen corner or amen section is any subset of the congregation likely to call out "Amen!" in response to points in a preacher's sermon. Metaphorically, the term can refer to any group of heartfelt traditionalists or supporters of an authority figure.

Āmīn in Arabic.

Amen in Islam

Muslims use the word "’Āmīn" (Arabic: آمين‎) not only after reciting the first surah (Al Fatiha) of the Qur'an, but also when concluding a prayer or dua, with the same meaning as in Christianity.[25] The Islamic use of the word is the same as the Jewish use of the word.

In Arabic Āmīn simply means "so be it". To Muslims it is a reasonable end to any supplication. Aḥādith narrated from the prophet Muhammad suggesting that the he encouraged people to say it after supplications. There are also a great number of traditions which tell us that the prophet commanded the believers to say Ᾱmīn when the Imām completes reading sūrah Fātiḥah. He is reported to have said: Abū Hurayrah reported: The Messenger of Allah (sws) said: Say Ᾱmīn when the Imam says Amīn, for if anyone's utterance of Ᾱmīn synchronises with that of the angels, he will be forgiven his past sins.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Amen". Catholic Encyclopedia. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01407b.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  2. ^ a b c Harper, Douglas. "amen". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=amen. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  3. ^ Numbers 5:22,Deuteronomy 27.15-26, for example.
  4. ^ Microsoft Encarta Dictionary Tools. Retrieved 20 August 2007
  5. ^ Paul Joüon, SJ, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, trans. and revised by T. Muraoka, vol. I, Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2000.
  6. ^ "G281". Strong's Concordance. http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/strongs.pl?strongs=281. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  7. ^ "Amen". Jewish Encyclopedia. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1383&letter=A&search=Amen. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  8. ^ a b c "Amen". American Heritage Dictionary. http://www.bartleby.com/61/75/A0247500.html. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  9. ^ "King James Bible Strong's Hebrew Dictionary". http://www.sacrednamebible.com/kjvstrongs/STRHEB5.htm#S543. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  10. ^ "COLLATION OF THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARIES - Amen". http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/ctg/am-an.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  11. ^ The Origin of the Word Amen, Ed. by Issa & Faraji, Amen Ra Theological Seminary Press. [1] as quoted in the Lexington Herald-Leader, "Scholar traces origins of 'Amen' He says word is of African, not Hebrew, origin", Dec., 2007, [2]
  12. ^ "Assembly of Yahweh, Cascade (an Assembly of True Israel, of the Diaspora) - Words and Definitions critical to the correct understanding of the Scriptures and Christianity". http://www.assemblyoftrueisrael.com/Documents/WordsandtermsintheScriptures.html. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  13. ^ "Amen". The Assembly of IaHUShUA MaShIaChaH. 2005-12-15. http://www.iahushua.com/ST-RP/church.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  14. ^ Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yoga, 1946, chapter 26.
  15. ^ A. K. Eyma, Egyptian Loan Words In English "[T]here are a lot of "kooky linguistics" around on the Net, linguistics that are ... employed to support some revisionistic hidden program (be it of an esoteric, ethnocentric, neopagan, or another nature). ... [S]emantically, historically and etymologically, there is no connection between the two words [Amun and Amen] at all."
  16. ^ http://hy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Հայր_Մեր
  17. ^ "Amen", Encyclopedia Biblica
  18. ^ "Amen". Jewish Encyclopedia. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1383&letter=A&search=Amen. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  19. ^ a b "Amen". Encyclopædia Britannica.. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.. 2008. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9006072/amen. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  20. ^ a b eastonsbibledictionary.com, Amen
  21. ^ cf. John L. McKezie, SJ, "Dictionary of the Bible", New York: MacMillan Publ. Co., Inc., 1965. Entry: "Amen," p. 25)
  22. ^ Orach Chaim 56 (amen in kaddish); O.C. 124 (amen in response to blessings recited by the prayer reader); O.C. 215 (amen in response to blessings made by any individual outside of the liturgy).
  23. ^ Tractate Shabbat 119b and Tractate Sanhedrin 111a
  24. ^ To Pray as a Jew: A Guide to the Prayer Book and the Synagogue Service, Hayim Halevy Donin
  25. ^ Hastings, James (2004). A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Volume I. The Minerva Group, Inc.. pp. 52. http://books.google.com/books?id=a9ukxN5gAgIC&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=web&ots=zWGtxwGKHx&sig=4BLM-2eLeCiXtNGkwwaaKcBDPYQ&hl=en#PPA52,M1. 
  26. ^ http://al-mawrid.org/pages/questions_english_detail.php?qid=93&cid=311

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

AMEN, a Hebrew word, of which the root meaning is "stability," generally adopted in Christian worship as a concluding formula for prayers and hymns. Three distinct biblical usages may be noted. (a) Initial Amen, referring back to words of another speaker, e.g. 1 Kings i. 36; Rev. xxii. 20. (b) Detached Amen, the complementary sentence being suppressed, e.g. Neh. v. 13; Rev. v. 14 (cf. 1 Cor. xiv. 16). (c) Final Amen, with no change of speaker, as in the subscription to the first three divisions of the Psalter and in the frequent doxologies of the New Testament Epistles. The uses of amen ("verily") in the Gospels form a peculiar class; they are initial, but often lack any backward reference. Jesus used the word to affirm his own utterances, not those of another person, and this usage was adopted by the church. The liturgical use of the word in apostolic times is attested by the passage from 1 Cor. cited above, and Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 150) describes the congregation as responding "amen" to the benediction after the celebration of the Eucharist. Its introduction into the baptismal formula (in the Greek Church it is pronounced after the name of each person of the Trinity) is probably later. Among certain Gnostic sects Amen became the name of an angel, and in post-biblical Jewish works exaggerated statements are multiplied as to the right method and the bliss of pronouncing it. It is still used in the service of the synagogue, and the Mahommedans not only add it after reciting the first Sura of the Koran, but also when writing letters, &c., and repeat it three times, of ten with the word Qimtir, as a kind of talisman.


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also amen

German

Etymology

From Latin amen, from Hebrew

Adverb

Amen

  1. The formula amen

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

This Hebrew word means firm, and hence also faithful (Rev. 3:14). In Isa. 65:16, the Authorized Version has "the God of truth," which in Hebrew is "the God of Amen." It is frequently used by our Saviour to give emphasis to his words, where it is translated "verily." Sometimes, only, however, in John's Gospel, it is repeated, "Verily, verily." It is used as an epithet of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:14).

It is found singly and sometimes doubly at the end of prayers (Ps. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52), to confirm the words and invoke the fulfilment of them. It is used in token of being bound by an oath (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26; Neh. 5:13; 8:6; 1 Chr. 16:36). In the primitive churches it was common for the general audience to say "Amen" at the close of the prayer (1 Cor. 14:16).

The promises of God are Amen; i.e., they are all true and sure (2 Cor. 1:20).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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The word Amen is one of a small number of Hebrew words which have been imported unchanged into the liturgy of the Church, propter sanctiorem as St. Augustine expresses it, in virtue of an exceptionally sacred example. "So frequent was this Hebrew word in the mouth of Our Saviour", observes the Catechism of the Council of Trent, "that it pleased the Holy Ghost to have it perpetuated in the Church of God". In point of fact St. Matthew attributes it to Our Lord twenty-eight times, and St. John in its doubled form twenty-six times. As regards the etymology, Amen is a derivative from the Hebrew verb aman "to strengthen" or "Confirm".

SCRIPTURAL USE

I. In the Holy Scripture it appears almost invariably as an adverb, and its primary use is to indicate that the speaker adopts for his own what has already been said by another. Thus in Jer., xxviii, 6, the prophet represents himself as answering to Hananias's prophecy of happier days; "Amen, the Lord perform the words which thou hast prophesied". And in the imprecations of Deut., xxvii, 14 sqq. we read, for example: "Cursed be he that honoureth not his father and mother, and all the people shall say Amen". From this, some liturgical use of the word appears to have developed long before the coming of Jesus Christ. Thus we may compare I Paralipomenon, xvi, 36, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from eternity; and let the people say Amen and a hymn to God", with Ps., cv, 48, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel from everlasting: and let all the people say: so be it" (cf. also II Esdras, viii, 6), these last words in the Septuagint being represented by genoito, genoito, and in the Vulgate, which follows the Septuagint by fiat, fiat; but the Massoretic text gives "Amen, Alleluia". Talmudic tradition tells us that Amen was not said in the Temple, but only in the synagogues (cf. Edersheim, The Temple, p. 127), but by this we probably ought to understand not that the saying Amen was forbidden in the Temple, but only that the response of the congregation, being delayed until the end for fear of interrupting the exceptional solemnity of the rite, demanded a more extensive and impressive formula than a simple Amen. The familiarity of the usage of saying Amen at the end of all prayers, even before the Christian era, is evidenced by Tobias, ix, 12.


II. A second use of Amen most common in the New Testament, but not quite unknown in the Old, has no reference to the words of any other person, but is simply a form of affirmation or confirmation of the speaker's own thought, sometimes introducing it, sometimes following it. Its employment as an introductory formula seems to be peculiar to the speeches of Our Saviour recorded in the Gospels, and it is noteworthy that, while in the Synoptists one Amen is used, in St. John the word is invariably doubled. (Cf. the double Amen of conclusion in Num., v, 22, etc.) In the Catholic (I. e. the Reinas) translation of the Gospels, the Hebrexv word is for the most part retained, but in the Protestant "Authorized Version" it is rendered by "Verily". When Amen is thus used by Our Lord to introduce a statement He seems especially to make a demand upon the faith of His hearers in His word or in His power; e.g. John, viii, 58, "Amen, Amen, I say unto you, before Abraham was made, I am". In other parts of the New Testament, especially in the Epistles of St. Paul, Amen usually concludes a prayer or a doxology, e.g. Rom., xi, 36, "To Him be glory for ever. Amen." We also find it sometimes attached to blessings, e.g. Rom., xv, 33, "Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen"; but this usage is much rarer, and in many apparent instances, e.g. all those appealed to by Abbot Cabrol, the Amen is really a later interpolation.


III. Lastly the common practice of concluding any discourse or chapter of a subject with a doxology ending in Amen seems to have led to a third distinctive use of the word in which it appears as nothing more than a formula of conclusion -- finis. In the best Greek codices the book of Tobias ends in this way with Amen, and the Vulgate gives it at the end of St. Luke's Gospel. This seems to be the best explanation of Apoc., iii, 14: "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness who is the beginning of the creation of God". The Amen who is also the beginning would thus suggest much the same idea as "I am Alpha and Omega" of Apoc., I, 5, or "The first and the last" of Apoc., ii, 8.

LITURGICAL USE

The employment of Amen in the synagogues as the people's answer to a prayer said aloud by a representative must no doubt have been adopted in their own worship by the Christians of the Apostolic age. This at least is the only natural sense in which to interpret the use of the word in I Cor., xiv, 16, "Else if thou shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that holdeth the place of the unlearned say Amen to thy blessing?" (pos erei to amen epi te se eucharistia) where to amen seems clearly to mean "the customary Amen". In the beginning. however, its use seems to have been limited to the congregation, who made answer to some public prayer, and it was not spoken by him who offered the prayer (see yon der Goltz, Das Gebet in der ltesten Christenheit, p. 160). It is perhaps one of the most reliable indications of the early data of the "Didache" or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles", that, although several short liturgical formul are embodied in this document, the word Amen occurs but once, and then in company with the word maranatha, apparently as an ejaculation of the assembly. As regards these liturgical formul in the "Didache", which include the Our Father, we may, however, perhaps suppose that the Amen was not written because it was taken for granted that after the doxology those present would answer Amen as a matter of course. Again, in the apocryphal but early "Acta Johannis" (ed. Bonnet, c. xciv, p. 197) we find a series of short prayers spoken by the Saint to which the bystanders regularly answer Amen. But it cannot have been very long before the Amen was in many cases added by the utterer of the prayer. We have a noteworthy instance in the prayer of St. Polycarp at his martyrdom, A.D. 155, on which occasion we are expressly told in a contemporary document that the executioners waited until Polycarp completed his prayer, and "pronounced the word Amen", before they kindled the fire by which he perished. We may fairly infer from this that before the middle of the second century it had become a familiar praclice for one who prayed alone to add Amen by way of conclusion. This usage seems to have developed even in public worship, and in the second half of the fourth century, in the earliest form of the liturgy which affords us any safe data, that of the Apostolic Constitutions, we find that in only three instances is it clearly indicated that Amen is to be said by the congregation (i.e. after the Trisagion, after the "Prayer of Intercession", and at the reception of Communion); in the eight remaining instances in which Amen occurs, it was said, so far as we can judge, by the bishop himself who offered the prayer. From the lately-discovered Prayer Book of Bishop Serapion, which can be ascribed with certainty to the middle of the fourth century, we should infer that, with certain exceptions as regards the anaphora of the liturgy, every prayer consistently ended in Amen. In many cases no doubt the word was nothing more than a mere formula to mark the conclusion, but the real meaning was never altogether lost sight of. Thus, though St. Augustine and Pseudo-Ambrose may not be quite exact when they interpret Amen as verum est (it is true), they are not very remote from the general sense; and in the Middle Ages, on the other band, the word is often rendered with perfect accuracy. Thus, in an early "Expositio Missæ" published by Gerbert (Men. Lit. Alere, II, 276), we read: "Amen is a ratification by the people of what has been spoken, and it may be interpreted in our language as if they all said: May it so be done as the priest has prayed".


General as was the use of the Amen as a conclusion, there were for a long time certain liturgical formulas to which it was not added. It does not for the most part occur at the end of the early creeds, and a Decree of the Congregation of Rites (n. 3014, 9 June, 1853) has decided that it should not be spoken at the end of the form for the administration of baptism, where indeed it would be meaningless. On the other hand, in the Churches of the East Amen is still commonly said after the form of baptism, sometimes by the bystanders, sometimes by the priest himself. In the prayers of exorcism it is the person exorcised who is expected to say "Amen", and in the conferring of sacred orders, when the vestments, etc., are given to the candidate by the bishop with some prayer of benediction, it is again the candidate who responds, just as in the solemn blessing of the Mass the people answer in the person of the server. Still we cannot say that any uniform principle governs liturgical usage in this matter, for when at a High Mass the celebrant blesses the deacon before the latter goes to read the Gospel, it is the priest himself who says Amen. Similarly in the Sacrament of Penance and in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction it is the priest who adds Amen after the essential words of the sacramental form, although in the Sacrament of Confirmation this is done by the assistants. Further, it may be noticed that in past centuries certain local rites seem to have shown an extraordinary predilection for the use of the word Amen. In the Mozarabic ritual, for example, not only is it inserted after each clause of the long episcopal benediction, but it was repeated after each petition of the Pater Noster. A similar exaggeration may be found in various portions of the Coptic Liturgy.


Two special instances of the use of Amen seem to call for separate treatment. The first is the Amen formerly spoken by the people at the close of the great Prayer of Consecration in the liturgy. The second is that which was uttered by each of the faithful when he received the Body and Blood of Christ.


(1) Amen after the Consecration


With regard to what we have ventured to call the "great Prayer of Consecration" a few words of explanation are necessary. There can be no doubt that by the Christians of the earlier ages of the Church the precise moment of the conversion of the bread and wine upon the altar into the Body and Blood of Christ was not so clearly apprehended as it is now by us. They were satisfied to believe that the change was wrought in the course of a long "prayer of thanksgiving" (eucharistia), a prayer made up of several elements -- preface, recitation of the words of institution, memento for living and dead, invocation of the Holy Ghost, etc. -- which prayer they nevertheless conceived of as one "action" or consecration, to which, after a doxology, they responded by a solemn Amen. For a more detailed account of this aspect of the liturgy the reader must be referred to the article EPICLESIS. It must be sufficient to say here that the essential unity of the great Prayer of Consecration is very clearly brought before us in the account of St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 151) who, describing the Christian liturgy, says: "As soon as the common prayers are ended and they (the Christians) have saluted one another with a kiss, bread and wine and water are brought to the president, who receiving them gives praise to the Father of all things by the Son and Holy Spirit and makes a long thanksgiving (eucharistian epi poly) for the blessings which He has vouchsafed to bestow upon them, and when he has ended the prayers and thanksgiving, all the people that are present forthwith answer with acclamation 'Amen' ". (Justin, I Apol., lxv, P.G., VI, 428). The existing liturgies both of the East and the West clearly bear witness to this primitive arrangement. In the Roman Liturgy the great consecrating prayer, or "action", of the Mass ends with the solemn doxology and Amen which immediately precede the Pater Noster. The other Amens which are found between the Preface and the Pater Noster can easily be shown to be relatively late additions. The Eastern liturgies also contain Amens similarly interpolated, and in particular the Amens which in several Oriental rites ape spoken immediately after the words of Institution, are not primitive. It may be noted that at the end of the seventeenth century the question of Amens in the Canon of the Mass acquired an adventitious importance on account of the controversy between Dom Claude de Vert and Père Lebrun regarding the secrecy of the Canon. It is now commonly admitted that in the primitive liturgies the words of the Canon were spoken aloud so as to be heard by the people. For some reason, the explanation of which is not obvious, the Amen immediately before the Pater Noster is omitted in the solemn Mass celebrated by the Pope on Easter day.


(2) Amen after Communion


The Amen which in many liturgies is spoken by the faithful at the moment of receiving Holy Communion may also be traced back to primitive usage. The Pontificale Romanum still prescribes that at the ordination of clerics and on other similar occasions the newly-ordained in receiving Communion should kiss the bishop's hand and answer Amen when the bishop says to them: "May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep thy soul unto everlasting life" (Corpus Domini, etc.). It is curious that in the lately-discovered Latin life of St. Melania the Younger, of the early fifth century, we are told how the Saint in receiving Communion before death answered Amen and kissed the hand of the bishop who had brought it (see Cardinal Rampella, Santa Melania Giuniore, 1905, p. 257). But the practice of answering Amen is older than this. It appears in the Canons of Hippolytus (No. 146) and in the Egyptian Church Order (p. 101). Further, Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., VI, xliii) tells a story of the heretic Novatian (c. 250), how, at the time of Communion, instead of Amen he made the people say "I will not go back to Pope Cornelius". Also we have evidently an echo of the same practice in the Acts of St. Perpetua, A.D. 202 (Armitage Robinson, St. Perpetua, pp. 68, 80), and probably in Tertullian's phrase about the Christian profaning in the amphitheatre the lips with which he had spoken Amen to greet the All-Holy (De Spect., xxv). But nearly all the Fathers supply illustrations of the practice, notably St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech., v, 18, P.G., XXIII, 1125).

OTHER USES

Finally, we may note that the word Amen occurs not infrequently in early Christian inscriptions, and that it was often introduced into anathemas and gnostic spells. Moreover, as the Greek letters which form Amen according to their numerical values total 99 (alpha=1, mu=40, epsilon=8, nu=50), this number often appears in inscriptions, especially of Egyptian origin, and a sort of magical efficacy seems to have been attributed to its symbol. It should also be mentioned that the word Amen is still employed in the ritual both of Jews and Mohammedans.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.







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