The responses after readings

I was recently quizzed by a friend on why some various things were done at Mass, and the only one I couldn’t answer was why we say “thanks be to God” after the first and second readings, and “Glory to you O Lord” and “Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ” on either side of the Gospel.

Does anyone know where this tradition comes from, or why the responses are what they are?

These might be helpful:

The “Deo Gratias” can be found in the Epistles to the Corinthians. It doesn’t say why specifically it’s placed in that part of the Mass, though. I’m curious now too!

Because of the priority of the Gospel compared to other Scripture. Christ is speaking to us, so we respond to Christ.

Here are my answers, from my book (see my signature).

What are we thanking God for when we say “Thanks be to God”? Two Scripture passages, Romans 7 and 2 Corinthians 9, give us some insight.

In Romans 7, St. Paul writes about the internal struggle we all face, even after Baptism: we do the evil which we do not want to do, and we do not do the good which we want to do:
[INDENT]I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. … I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. … So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Rom. 7:15-25)
This conflict between his “inmost self” (his soul which has received an indelible mark in Baptism) and his “members” (his flesh which is still under the power of his earthly desires) is common to all of us: the term the Church uses for it is concupiscence, the tendency of human nature to sin as a result of our inability to subordinate our desires to the dictates of reason. Faced with his own wretchedness, St. Paul thanks God for His Son Jesus Christ Who delivers him from his “body of death.”

In 2 Corinthians 9, St. Paul is writing about the generosity of the people of Corinth. The Corinthians were such zealous and ready givers that he had bragged about them to others in Macedonia. He tells them that their generosity is only possible because of God’s generosity: “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:8) He concludes:
You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. Under the test of this service, you will glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ, and by the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others; while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Cor. 9:11-15)
Three times he speaks of thanks to God: thanksgiving for His great generosity of grace, the “inexpressible gift” of God.

It is for these two things that we say “Thanks be to God” at the end of the readings from Scripture. First and foremost, we recognize that in the Scriptures being proclaimed, we are hearing God’s word which the Holy Spirit inspired various men to put into writing. In Scripture, the phrase “the word of the Lord” means, quite simply, a revelation directly from God. In Jesus, this Word of God is enfleshed: Christ is the Word-made-Flesh. As Vatican II said in the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum (DV), Jesus Christ “is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.” (DV 2)

Secondly, we acknowledge the pure love that God shows for us in bestowing His “surpassing grace” upon us, that we may hear His word proclaimed to our ears. Jesus said “blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16), and again, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28) St. John begins his book of Revelation with these words: “Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein.” (Rev. 1:3) There are many eyes and ears in the world that go without reading or hearing the Sacred Scriptures; as we thank God for His grace, we must not forget the mission of the Church to spread the Gospel throughout all the world.
[RIGHT]Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, pp. 59-61[/INDENT]

The Gospel conveys the very words and actions of Jesus Christ.

Just before the Gospel is read, the deacon or priest says “A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew” (or Mark or Luke or John). We respond with:

Glória tibi, Dómine.
Glory to you, O Lord. (Isa. 24:15; 42:12)

One reason we say this is to remember that the Gospel did not originate with the writers of the gospels (the evangelists) themselves. Rather, the Gospel is the message of God Himself which was spoken by the lips of His Son, and for that reason we give the glory to the Lord, Who will in turn bestow honor and glory and blessings upon those who do His will.


When the Gospel reading has been completed, the deacon or priest says “The Gospel of the Lord” and we respond with:

Laus tibi, Christe.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. (Rev. 4:11; 5:12)

We give Him glory before we hear the Gospel, and after it we give Him praise. We anticipate the marvelous wonder of the Incarnation, that the Word came to dwell among us, and our response to encountering that living Word of God is to give Him praise. Glory and praise to our God!
[RIGHT]Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, pp. 63-65[/RIGHT

Thanks Japhy.

Those are basically the reasons I suspected, but I had no justification for why or where those phrases came from

I have read, from one of the Eastern Fathers I think, that in the Byzantine court it was the custom to respond "Praise to you lord Caesar " after any address by Caesar to the court. Since the Gospel is Jesus speaking to us they responded “Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, Praise to you.” Note that they repeated the* Praise to You* to indicate a greater respect for Jesus. It was a while back that I read that. I think I have the general sense right, but some of the detail may be faulty.}