Is there a proper way to pronounce “amen” during Mass and/or the Sacraments?

Most Americans, unless speaking or singing in Latin, pronounce it “ay-men”. I’ve always been in the habit of using the traditional pronunciation with the long ‘a’, or “ah-men”. I don’t think it makes a difference, but I figured I’d better be sure.

This question comes up from time to time.

When speaking in English, this is a matter of preference. The long “A” pronunciation has been around in Catholic circles for longer than anyone I have ever asked has been alive so it’s definitely been around since the early 1900s. Naturally it would not have been used at Mass prior to the first English Masses in the early 1960s.

There are some regional preferences (and no doubt individual priests have had preferences) but there is no general right or wrong. Either that or an awful lot of the priests and religious I know used the wrong pronunciation at Mass.

When I was preparing for my First Communion in second grade (1964-1965) we were instructed to say, “Ah-men” if the priest said, “Corpus Christi,” and, “Ay-men” if the priest said, “Body of Christ.”

With a little bit of choral background, I always use “ah”. But I don’t pay attention to what others say, nor do I remember what I said before I was in choir.

Do the folks that say “ay” maintain that when they chant the response to the priest, or do they switch pronunciations between speaking and chanting?

I find myself saying “Ay-men” and signing “Ah-men”.

Ay-men sounds more secular (part of everyday conversation) than ah-men. Perhaps some movie made it so? :slight_smile:

I say Ay-men, but I’m Canadian, so I naturally say “ay” with other words as well.

Using Latin vowel pronunciation is usually a good idea when chanting, whether in Latin or English. In fact, the lack of diphthongs used in Latin pronunciation is a good idea in general for singing in English (unless one is purposely trying to include some sort of ethnic/regional sound.)

In any case I think switching pronunciations between chanting/singing and speaking is normal (when Ay-men is the spoken norm.)

As a language geek, I tend to pronounce foreign words according to their source language – “ahmen.”


Actually I have known Irish and British Catholics who’ve told me that they say “Ay-men” when speaking. It’s not unique to Americans. I’ve tried to find out where “Ay-men” originated and I’ve never been able to find an answer.

I even had one English person (who would probably be around 50 years old) tell me that he figured Ay-men was Catholic while Ah-men was Anglican. :shrug:

I’m not certain if the word derives from Greek or Hebrew. But I have heard many Jewish people pronounce it ah-mean.

The vowel pointing would seem to put it about halfway between -men and -mean.

I’ve heard that in Yiddish it’s more like “oy-main,” but I can’t prove that.


There’s no right or wrong, generally I hear “ah-men” from some, and “ay-men” from others. But what I hear most is “a-men” “a” as in “hat” or “sat” or even “e-men” as in “sen” or “ten”, though it is usually a sarcastic remark.

By the way this is my 899th post :smiley:
oh the misery :frowning:

Its “ah-men”
It came from the Aramaic, “ah-meen”

I think local pronunciation has a lot to do with how one says, “Amen”.

Consider that where one lives can determine whether the following words are pronounced distinctly or exactly the same:


AYEmen for speaking , AHmen for singing. Unless you are English, then it’s AHmen all the time. However, AYEmen iif you are singing the song AMEN, like Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field!

Yep, very much so! And I must correct in my first post, it was my 799th post, not 899th!

Its only the English where it says “Ey”. Every other language says “Ah”. Thats pretty telling, isn’t it?

From my background it is Ah-men. I will say it bothers me to hear Amen, as that is how it sounds to me. All hymns end in Ah-men and also the Latin. I might be wrong, but it seems that protestants always say Amen! And that might be where the usage comes from.

I suppose that we all prefer what we were brought up with.

Yours in the Hearats of Jesus and Mary


Not sure if “ey-men” came from Protestants of Anglicans, but surely its not from the Catholic or Orthodox Church. Yes, its “ah-men” in Latin, “ah-men” in Tagalog, “ah-meen” in Ukrainian, “ah-meen” in Aramaic.


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