Q & A: Who Says The Doxology? Do Readers Bow To The Presider?

Q & A: Who Says The Doxology? Do Readers Bow To The Presider?

In this week's column, I respond to two questions about which I have had several inquiries in recent weeks.

Q: Does the priest say the words "Through him, with him, in him,…" alone or do the people say them too?

A: The concluding words of the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass, "Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever", are known as the 'Final Doxology'. This solemn statement of praise and thanksgiving has been a part of the Eucharistic Prayer since the earliest years of the Church.

During the doxology, the celebrant raises the consecrated bread and cup as a gesture of offering as he sings or says the words. If a deacon is present, it is he who raises the chalice.

The rubrics (instructions printed in red) for the doxology in the Roman Missal read: "Celebrant alone or with concelebrants". The priest celebrant proclaims the entire Eucharistic Prayer, including the doxology, in the name of the assembly, which gives its affirmation and approval in the Amen which culminates the prayer.

According to the 'General Instruction of the Roman Missal', "Glory to God is expressed in the doxology, to which the people's acclamation, Amen, is an assent and conclusion." (GIRM 2000 # 79h)

It seems a strange case of role reversal for people to say the words of the doxology, the presider's prayer, but remain tight-lipped during the singing of the Amen, the people's part.

It has been claimed that the Amen of the people worshipping in the basilicas of Rome resounded through the city like the rumble of thunder. Could we say the same about our churches?

Q: Do the readers genuflect to the priest when they come up to read and do they repeat this as they return to their places?

A: If the tabernacle is in the main body of the church, the readers will already have genuflected in honour of the real presence in the reserved sacrament on entering the church; there is no need to repeat this when approaching the lectern to read. It is appropriate, however, to make a sign of reverence to the altar which is the table of the Lord and a symbol of Christ. This should take the form of a profound bow, performed slowly and deliberately from the waist from a standing position. The gesture is not repeated after reading; the reader simply returns to his or her place.

Readers do not bow to the presider. The role of proclaiming the scriptures at Mass rightfully belongs to lay people, unlike distributing communion which they do only if there are not sufficient ordained ministers. The reader should do nothing that indicates that the priest is generously granting special permission for others to perform what is really his ministry.
Whether carrying the Lectionary in procession, approaching the sanctuary to read, or standing at the ambo, it is important for readers to adopt a posture which reflects the dignity of their ministry and is neither excessively formal nor overly casual.


Elizabeth Harrington