It should be obvious that assigning it to the deacon came abour as a result of the taking the Anaphora silently and the people's inability to hear and respond.
Yes, but I am stunned (as I said) by the seeming existence of groups of Orthodox laity today who are saying the Amens at the Most Secret Prayer. Is this some small sect? In what countries is this happening?
If I am understanding what yuns guys are talking about, it's par for the course at the parish that I used to attend to say amen's at that point in the liturgy.
So is this some peculiarity of anglophone converts in the United States? Is it done by Serbs and Greeks and Romanians?
Is it some kind of "liturgical movement" in American convert Orthodoxy which wants to go back to origins and purify the Liturgy. I wonder if anyone has learned from Constantinople...they say history repeats itself. The Liturgy is like the human heart; it's sacred ground. On sacred ground you tiptoe.
As far as I have been able to determine, the custom of the priest saying the Anaphora outloud with the people saying the Amens at the Epiclesis (at least in the United States) is traceable to the influence of Father Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory. Since Father Alexander was the Dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York where many priests of the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese are trained, seminarians picked up this custom and began to practice it when they were ordained as priests. One can certainly debate the merits of such a practice, but we are all products of our education, and I would not come down too hard on a priest who was taught to pray the Anaphora outloud and have his people say the Amens. Having said that, the practice is not without some controversy as well. While many St. Vladimir's graduates come down on the side of saying the prayers aloud and giving the Amens to the people, not all Orthodox in America agree with them. I've met more than a few graduates of St. Tikhon's Seminary who prefer the traditional practice of the priest saying the Anaphora in a low voice and having the deacon say the Amens. I have even seen priests have spirited discussions and debates with one another about whether these prayers should be said aloud or in a low voice and whether the deacon or the people should say the Amens. I would guess that in most OCA and Antiochian parishes in North America, the anaphora and the Amens are said aloud, but there are still pockets of traditionalists that celebrate in a low voice. I don't think saying the Anaphora outloud is as widespread among the Greeks as it is among the OCA and the Antiochians. Certainly some Greek priests do do it, but all the ones I have ever seen celebrate the Anaphora in the traditional manner of a low voice. My guess would be that Holy Cross Seminary (the Greek Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts) does not press this issue as much as St. Vladimir's does. As far as ROCOR goes, they seem to very much against the practice of saying the anaphora outloud and follow the traditional practice. Of course, I have also observed that ROCOR is not as enthusiastic about Father Alexander Schmemann and his practices as some other Orthodox jurisdictions are.
From what I have read Father Alexander picked up the idea that the Anaphora should be said aloud from the French Roman Catholic theologian, Louis Boyer
and from a lot of the liturgical scholarship surrounding the Second Vatican Council. I do find it rather curious that no Orthodox in the world were praying the Anaphora aloud before the Second Vatican Council started in 1965. I find some people get quite angry and defensive with me when I bring up this point, but I feel that wanting the Anaphora and the Epiclesis Amens recited aloud is a kind of Protestant Reformer mentality that just doesn't belong in the Orthodox Church. As a former Lutheran myself, I remember reading about how Luther howled about the Silent Canon of the Tridentine Mass and called it an abomination. Luther, Cranmer, Calvin and Zwingli all protested against the Secret Prayers of the priest and demanded that everything the priest did be outloud and in the vernacular. Every ancient liturgy I have ever studied has certain prayers that the Priest says in a low voice. In fact, it's universal. All the ancient Liturgies, be they Latin, Greek, Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Sarum, Gallican, Jacobite, Coptic or Ethiopian have silent prayers for the priest to say. That is evidence enough for me that this is an apostolic tradition, otherwise it wouldn't be so universal.
However, I don't waste my time discussing this issue with priests who are convinced that the Anaphora and the Epiclesis Amens MUST be prayed aloud. I've gotten my head bitten off too many times for even bringing up the question. (And received some very arrogant and condescending "answers" which were really no answers at all). So I just keep my mouth shut now. But I do prefer the traditional practice and one day hope to find a parish where the priest respects and follows the traditional practice.