The congregational answers to the utterances of the officiant. These were originally what the responses to the benedictions of those private individuals who are called to the reading of the Law still remain—mere loud acclaims. But with the introduction of the four-part choir in the early nineteenth century some set form of response became necessary. The "singer" and "bass," who had previously been employed to accompany the Ḥazzan with a vocal obligato, had usually repeated "Baruk Hu u-Baruk Shemo" (comp. Baruk She-Amar) and "Amen" to the melody a moment before chanted by the soloist, even as they echoed his song, or imitated it at other intervals, in the course of the passages which were not benedictions.
Traditional material for these particular responses was accordingly indicated; but not for others, such as those in the Ḳaddish or "Ken Yehi Raẓon" in the priestly blessing. In the former case these "meshorerim" (vocal accompanists; see Music, Synagogal) had also certainly joined in; but the melodies chanted were by no means so generally adhered to as those of the prayers which closed with a benediction, the motives of which had been ancientlyaccepted as traditional by all the congregations following each rite. Consequently, save only in responses such as the "Yehe Shemeh Rabba" on the penitential evenings, when the melody of the preceding prayers was continued in the Ḳaddish, or on other such occasions when the congregants at large chanted along with the cantor, as is still so frequently the practise among the Sephardim, no general line for the structure and detail of the choral responses had been indicated.
It was here that great service was rendered by Sulzer, who set down such responses as tradition suggested, and first adequately provided a complete corpus of choral refrains, by composing the lacking numbers himself. The rationale of this corpus has disappeared in the Reform synagogues, where the service is no longer entirely intoned by a precentor; but it still permeates the devotions of the Conservative congregations, and its influence is felt even in the choirless synagogues of small communities. Where, however, of recent years the reaction toward the resuscitation of older and more characteristic traditional melodies for choral rendering has been evident, the new responses framed by Sulzer and his school, which perceptibly exhale the Neo-Catholic flavor of much of their music, have often been replaced by phrases built up, like the old responses to the benedictions, on the material afforded by the Ḥazzanut. In this reversion to antique color, anticipating the more recent corresponding advocacy of the older music of the Catholic Church by its ecclesiastical heads, Louis Lewandowski is a chief figure.
The great collection of responses, given in their liturgical position, in A. Baer's "Ba'al Tefillah, oder der Praktische Vorbeter" (Göteborg, 1877, and Frankfort, 1883), is exhaustive as regards the congregational tradition and its modern practise among the Ashkenazim. The harmonized choral responses of the same rite are collected in Cohen and Davis' "Voice of Prayer and Praise" (London, 1899), with almost equal fulness, in seventy-one numbers, sixty-one of which are based on the traditional intonations of the prechoral period. The responses of the Sephardim remain to be published.