I'm trying to find a word for the responses which people utter during prayer recitals or general "praise the lord" sort of speeches (not in sermons). Let me try elucidating this via an example:

Priest: "blah blah blah"
Random Person: "amen"
Priest: "blah blah blah"
Random Person: "ooo, praise the lord"
Priest: "blah blah blah"
Random Person: some random quote praising the lord

The best example would be the stuff you see in movies, typically portrayed in African-American churches. I'm sure there's a word for it. Also, forgive me if the meaning is not clear.

  • You're talking about the formalized ones and not random "amen"s, right? E.g. the book of liturgy (for whatever religion) will say that the priest says "blah blah blah" and the people say "amen". Correct? Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:34
  • @Monica no i'm talking about the random ones. and the word need not be amen, just some expression of praise or support. Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 5:55

5 Answers 5


The word you're looking for is litany.

  • yeah, actually, i think this was the word. Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 7:04

As far as I know, this pattern is called call and response.

  • 3
    Thanks for adding the link. I believe that "call and response" is also more generally accepted outside of African-American religious tradition despite what the Wikipedia article implies.
    – horatio
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 20:22

I am pretty sure the word is simply "response". I have seen in prayer books:

Congregation responds: "Amen"

  • It is a very common word in most of the religions.
    – Tarik
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 3:51

These might be 'ejaculations' (sniggering down in back, please). Here is the catholic culture org explanation: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33288

I recall them being explained as something like your random persons in the example might say, though at any time, not in a 'call and response' setting.

For instance, Wikipedia has this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ejaculation_(grammar)


try responsory or respond

The most general definition of a responsory is any psalm, canticle, or other sacred musical work sung responsorially, that is, with a cantor or small group singing verses while the whole choir or congregation respond with a refrain. However, this article focuses on those chants of the western Christian tradition that have traditionally been designated by the term responsory.

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