Ambo on right instead of left?

I've always associated the ambo with the left side of the sanctuary - the old "Gospel side" (that dates me) as I look at the altar. However, in the last two new churches I've been in ("new" means built in the last 5 years) the single ambo has been on the right side of the sanctuary. Is this just a matter of architectural or design preference now? Or is there a rule as to where the ambo should be. It seems strange to have the readings and the Gospel proclaimed from the right side.

I can't think of one church I've been in in recent years that had the ambo on the right. The last time was in 1997 when my faith community worshipped in an auditorium and we placed the ambo on the right because that's were we first came onto the stage.

It may feel weird, not so much because of the old 'Gospel side/ /Epistle side' but because we read from left to right and that side is dominant. We are conscious of that when we stage a play: it's just natural to look at a certain spot rather than another spot.

My own local church has the ambo on the left, but St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City has it on the right, so maybe it's a local option.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC also has the ambo on the Epistle side with the chair on the Gospel side in the same place that St. Patrick's has the Cathedra of New York.

There is no rule about right or left, at least not for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :

"The Ambo
309. The dignity of the word of God requires that the church have a place that is suitable for the proclamation of the word and toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns during the Liturgy of the Word.
It is appropriate that this place be ordinarily a stationary ambo and not simply a movable lectern. The ambo must be located in keeping with the design of each church in such a way that the ordained ministers and lectors may be clearly seen and heard by the faithful. ..."

\The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC also has the ambo on the Epistle side with the chair on the Gospel side in the same place that St. Patrick's has the Cathedra of New York.\

**Actually, the Liturgcal North ("Gospel side") is the traditional place in the West for the Bishop's Cathedra.

I don't know where a simple priest would sit when celbrating at these churches. The traiditonal place for the Priest, Deacon, and Subdeacon to sit when the Choir sings is on the South ("Epistle side").

FWIW, in the Chapel at EWTN, the Priest reads the Collect and such from his chair in the South.**

I am getting confused here. Are you talking about the ambo being on the left side of the sanctuary, in which case it would be on my right as I face the altar, or on the right side of the sanctuary, in which case it would be on my left. In my church, the ambo is on my right, which is the left side of the altar. Just trying to get my bearings here. In any case, I've seen both.

At my college parish (which has a lot of liturgical problems that I won't get into), both the ambo and the presider's chair are on the right side of the sanctuary (the left side if you are in the pews) which is a little awkward. This, of course, is to make room for the super hip and catchy "choir" and piano/guitar combo which is on the right side of the sanctuary (where one of the side altars used to be I'm sure).

As you face our sanctuary, the ambo and the presider’s chair are on the left, the Tabernacle is on the right. It works just fine.

[quote="Mattapoisett64, post:1, topic:179419"]
I've always associated the ambo with the left side of the sanctuary - the old "Gospel side" (that dates me) as I look at the altar. However, in the last two new churches I've been in ("new" means built in the last 5 years) the single ambo has been on the right side of the sanctuary. Is this just a matter of architectural or design preference now? Or is there a rule as to where the ambo should be. It seems strange to have the readings and the Gospel proclaimed from the right side.

[/quote]

Well I know that the church I went to as a child (early 90s) has the ambo on the right side... the church was built in 1804, but they redesigned the interior in the aftermath of the 2nd vaticanum... they kept the high altar, but turned the kneeling bench into an altar and they put the ambo to the right. On the left side there is only a small microphone that is used for the intercessions... (excuse my lack of correct terminology... I'd know it all in German if that helps...)

While churches were historically built with the altar at the geographical east end of the building, liturgical orientation is not always connected to the geographical orientation. If you stand in the aisle facing any main altar, that is “liturgical east.” From the earliest days up until a few years after the Second Vatican Council, the priest faced “liturgical east” while saying Mass (or in Latin, ad Orientem). The main ambo or pulpit was at “liturgical north,” meaning to the left of the altar when facing it, and this was called the “Gospel side” because the Gospel was read from the “north” or left end of the altar. The Epistle was read was at the “liturgical south” end of the altar, and the presider’s chair was typically on this side of the sanctuary. It stands to reason that the back of the nave was “liturgical west,” hence terms like the “west front.” The majority of churches in my diocese have the altar at the geographical north end of the building, but this is still considered “liturgical east.”

By the way, there are three kinds of bookstands: a lectern is a free-standing stand commonly found in classrooms (often confused with a podium, which goes under a lectern to elevate it and the speaker); an ambo is an elevated, solidly-built lectern approached by stairs; and a pulpit is an ambo with side panels which partially enclose the speaker.

Our church, built in the early 90’s, has the celebrant’s chair on the left [liturgical north] and the ambo on the right. Since the Director of worship for the diocese, who was also an very capable expert on church design, was in residence at our parish at the time, I presume liturgical features were all in accord with best practice at the time.

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