Nunc dimittis

For many others like me, I suspect yesterday was a sad day. As our celebrant concluded the institution narrative, I was so overcome with the realization that this was the last Sunday Mass I would pray those words—that prayer, this Mass—that I was too sad to sing what followed.

These have been the only words I’ve known my entire life. With these words, I have witnessed marriages, buried, baptized, confirmed, anointed, and ordained close friends and family. These words accompanied me through my journey of faith, forming me, consoling me, challenging and surprising me. I’ve done at least 25 workshops on the new translation since August, and at every workshop, I tell participants to say goodbye to the words they have known. But it only hit me yesterday in the midst of that prayer what goodbye really felt like.

So I will grieve the loss of these familiar rhythms and phrases that have made me the person I am today. And because of these old words, I know I will be able to enter into a new relationship with new words and rhythms, not necessarily with joyful hope, but still confident that God will make a way where there is no way. Most of all, I will trust that the prayers that have led me thus far will continue to be true. This one, especially, I will miss. It’s my favorite collect of the entire 1985 Sacramentary. Even now it comforts me and guides me into the unknown.

In faith and love we ask you, Father,
to watch over your family gathered here.
In your mercy and loving kindness
no thought of ours is left unguarded,
no tear unheeded, no joy unnoticed.
Through the prayer of Jesus
may the blessings promised to the poor in spirit
lead us to the treasures of your heavenly kingdom.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
—Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, alternative

What is your favorite prayer you will miss most?



  1. Do Catholics just close their ears when the Canon and the preces and the prefaces are being prayed? Why does so much of the spin on this disaster invoke the idea of a huge gulf between “the people’s bits” and “the priest’s bits”, constantly assuring the laity that “they don’t have to worry” about the latter. (Just drink the Kool-Aid.)

    This is about abuse and about mendacity, and if it has shown up the moral mediocrity of the bishops it has also shown up a deep moral failure of the laity, who show themselves willing to turn their eyes to abuse, or to gladly adopt the role of victim, or to lie themselves into compliance.

  2. Speak for some other laity, Joe. This layman pays close attention to all the priest’s parts. I don’t think anyone said we don’t have to worry about the priest’s prayers, just that, in comparison, the people have many fewer changes in what we say.

    This layman eagerly looks forward to this coming Sunday, and I’ll be especially tuned in to the priest!

  3. Dear Joe,

    I appreciate your comments, and I agree to a certain extent. Still I take issue with your judgment of laity like me. I am not lying to myself into compliance. Rather, I’m going in, eyes wide open, but going in nonetheless. No translation, as awful as it may be, will move me away from my rightful place in this Church and my rightful voice in it. At least for me, I believe I can effect change more if I stay and work with those who are allies than if I leave or demean the entirety of its members.

    So do you have an answer to the question I posed in this post? If not, then I believe your comment belongs elsewhere on other posts that are focused on your point.


  4. There is, for me (I’m 24), not a SINGLE example of a prayer that I’ve come acrossed that I will have preferred we kept, rather than moved to its “new translation”. Looking forward to next Sunday!

  5. My favorite is the alternate opening prayer for the First Sunday of Advent:
    My favorite is the alternate opening prayer for the First Sunday of Advent.

    Father in heaven,
    our hearts desire the warmth of your love
    and our minds are searching
    for the light of your Word.
    Increase our longing for Christ our Savior
    and give us the strength to grow in love,
    that the dawn of his coming
    may find us rejoicing in his presence
    and welcoming the light of his truth.

    1. It would be hard to imagine more beautiful words, than those which you addressed to your email correspondents yesterday morning. I hope you will not be offended by my posting them here:

      I will celebrate Mass this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with the current Sacramentary but this weekend was my last time to use this book with larger assemblies of the people in my parish.

      At each Mass I spoke about how the Sacramentary as been my “instruction manual” for 38 years of my ministry as a priest. I’ve grown to regard the Sacramentary as an old friend and while I’m not unaware of its deficiencies, I’ve found it to be a good and nourishing book of prayer for me and for the communities I’ve served.

      I told my parishioners that it took me close to 20 years before I found myself truly able to pray the Mass without being distracted by what I should be doing, what I should be saying, and keeping everything and everyone together. When the book became part of me and my prayer I was free to pray what was in the book.

      I noted, then, that if it takes me 20 years to become accustomed to the new Roman Missal, I’ll be 84 years old! But since I estimate that I’d then be only a decade away from retirement, I’m sure I can make it!

      After the laughter, I asked the people to be patient with me as I work with a new book for prayer and I invited all of us to be patient with one another and with the book until we have had the opportunity to make it our own. It will not happen overnight. It will take a long time.

      The road to this Missal has been long, difficult and not without controversy. Please pray for priests and music ministers introducing the new texts and working to make the new Missal our prayer book. And please pray for priests and people whose affection for the former book makes this task a difficult one. These may not be easy times ahead but if we work together to pray together, we can depend on the Spirit to make us one in prayer and…

    2. And you know, of course, that you can use those Alternative Opening Prayers as the Concluding Collect of the General Intercessions for which no text is prescribed (YET!). They already have the shorter ending prescribed for that oration.

  6. A couple of favorites…

    “Trace in our actions the lines of her love, in our hearts her readiness of faith.” Alternative Opening Prayer for the Immaculate Conception

    “You renew the Church in every age by raising up men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of your unchanging love.” Preface of Holy Men and Women

    1. Corinna – YES!! to the Preface of Holy Men and Women, which always makes me think of many people who have nurtured my faith life over the years – wonderful people from patriarchs to prophets to Peter and Paul and Priscilla to parents and pastors. This prayer brings all of them to mind.

  7. “What is your favorite prayer you will miss most?” Frankly, the preces of the current translation are sawdust; very few of them will be missed by anyone; the 1998 translations solved this problem but were dumped by the Vatican; the new preces are horrible.

    “I’ve done at least 25 workshops on the new translation since August, and at every workshop, I tell participants to say goodbye to the words they have known. ”

    A good question would be, “What is your favorite prayer in the new translation?” If you can find any good ones, that would be a more effective plug for the new translations than all the spin and “catechesis”.

    1. As someone who supports the 1998 translation, I’m reminded of Kathleen Hughes’s keynote address at the NPM Convention in Detroit last year regarding the 2010 translation:

      We can make a choice now not to be cranky about the new translation or to disparage this word or that phrase. I have more reason than most of you in this room to wish it were otherwise. I worked for the former ICEL for nineteen years and we had neared completion of a new translation of the Missal using different translation principles. But that was then. Now I have made a conscious choice to button my lip. Being cranky, especially being perpetually cranky, sours us and keeps us in a sort of low grade depression. None of us really wants to live like that.

      I’m a little tired of hearing fellow progressives in some corners dismissing catechesis on this new translation as “spin.” It’s an insult to the hard work of people like Diana, Paul Turner, Jerry Galipeau, and others committed to making this transition as pastoral as possible. Save your venom for the clowns who screwed up the translation in the first place. But these people are just trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

      1. I would feel the same, but when I start studying a piece of the new texts and am faced with incorrect English (which sometimes happens), the effort to accept it becomes mind-boggling.

        I believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth, independent of what the Vatican offices say. But there are cases when we are told that white is black and black is white, grammatically speaking.

        It is confusing. Should I brush off those grammatical errors as no big deal, accept what is wrong and pretend that it is right? Will that make it right? I find the idea mind-boggling.

        I’m sorry to say that it brings to mind images of scenes of bullying.

        (I have to say that these “mind-boggling” aspects seem to have been introduced solely in the last round, and were not present in the 2008 version. That version I dislike as well, but it does not arouse the same feeling of being bullied into forsaking the truth, and I could imagine shutting up and making do with it.)

      2. Claire, I do agree with you. I just thought that Hughes’s choice not to be “cranky” could be a model with which we can start (considering that she lost a lot of her own personal investment in the 1998 translation). I also think that a good counterbalance would be following the wisdom of something I heard Steve Janco say this past summer: “I’m not going to say something about this new translation that I don’t believe.”

        We don’t serve our faith communities by being perpetually negative about this translation, and we don’t serve them by lying about it. And balancing the two is the challenge for us as pastoral ministers.

    2. I will miss saying “And also with you”.

      Priests do not have any more nor any different a spirit than anyone else, and saying and replying “and with your spirit” sounds like and implies that the priest has some “spirit” but us non ordained people do not.

      In fact, I will continue to say “and also with you” and I may start shouting it.

  8. My long time favourite is the alternative for the 23rd Sunday:
    Lord, our God, in you justice and mercy meet. With unparalleled love you have saved us from death and drawn us into the circle of your life.
    Open our eyes to the wonders this life sets before us,
    that we may serve you free from fear and address you as God our Father.
    It has wonderful allusions to Ps 85 and the theology of St. Bonaventure.

  9. “And you know, of course, that you can use those Alternative Opening Prayers as the Concluding Collect of the General Intercessions…”

    Thanks for this reminder, Xavier, and for posting what I shared with my parish on Sunday.

  10. Joe,

    In all charity, I think the prudent step is to stop looking at what is being lost. Even for someone like yourself who finds little, if anything, of value in the new texts, there is nothing to gain anymore from kicking up this kind of dust.

    I personally don’t have a favorite prayer of the new translation, but honestly, every single side-by-side comparison I recall seeing of the collects has been, in my opinion, an improvement over the 1973 version, both in style and in fidelity to the Latin. My cursory knowledge of other translations (Spanish, mostly) has suggested to me that the new translation also bears more resemblance to them as well than the old one did.

    The 1998 version had problems that few seem to mention when they recall it. It took liberties with the rites themselves, steps that are entirely outside the purview of a translation. It’s been a while since I saw it, but I also don’t recall that it fixed glaring problems like, “and also with you”. (At least, it “glares” when you compare several languages’ translations of the same phrase.)

    1. What is being lost is a flat, barely functional liturgy. What is being gained is nothing. The bad 1973 preces are being replced by the bad 2010 preces, when good ones would have been so easy to produce.

      In fact the new translations may push our worship into terminal dysfunctionality.

  11. Felipe Gasper :

    In all charity, I think the prudent step is to stop looking at what is being lost. Even for someone like yourself who finds little, if anything, of value in the new texts, there is nothing to gain anymore from kicking up this kind of dust.

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Really? Stop looking at what is being lost? You must be rather popular in the Bereavement Ministry at your parish!

    1. Sean,

      That’s their way of saying that they don’t care whether the people like the change, and they’re trying to treat it like something that is irreversible.

      It is reversible, if enough people react. They want people to either accept the changes, or if they don’t to at least remain silent.

      We’re not going to do it this time.

  12. I, for one, look forward with anticipation to next Sunday. But then, I suppose as one gets older, change becomes harder. If I were 10 or 20 years older than my 33 years, I imagine it would be more wrenching. That being said, people of all ages have differing capacities for change. I know people in my own family (before my time of course) reacted differently to the far wider changes of the 1960’s – some say they welcomed and enjoyed the changes, but I know several, and not only the then middle aged, who were heartbroken and disoriented. I suppose it differed from country to country and diocese to diocese, but they certainly were never accommodated in their desire to worship as they had grown up, and as their ancestors had, but were told to put up, shut up, and get with the program, their feelings dismissed as nostalgia or mere aesthetic preference. Of course, Catholics today are more outspoken and less obedient, so perhaps there will be a rebellion a la Lefebvre? Society of Pope Paul VI anyone? Seriously, though, change IS wrenching and I personally believe liturgical forms should not be simply cast off and suppressed – people’s prayer lives are too bound up in them. The hierarchy learned this lesson too late with the older Tridentine forms (and many still will not learn, or refuse to, so hardened are they against access to the Extraordinary Form for those who want it). Hopefully they will not do so with the outgoing 1973 ICEL Mass – perhaps an Indult will be issued sooner rather than later? Perhaps rebellion will force the hand of Rome faster than Archbishop Lefebvre’s did?

    1. I’m only three years older than you, so I can attest that you don’t have to be 10 or 20 years older to find it wrenching.

      At Mass, this week, our priest prayed a prayer of thanks over the outgoing Sacramentary and, although we’ve been using the new words since September, it was a real gut-pulling experience. I nearly cried.

      Fr Dick asked us to pray for the US and Canadian churches who haven’t had the introductory period we have had. I pray that we can make it through the mess and that I am a lot younger than 76 when something new comes in.

      As for my favourite bits of the ’73 translation? The whole book, I guess. It used vernacular English and spoke to the heart.

  13. Like many other correspondents my favourite prayer from what we must now call the “old” missal is an alternative opening prayer (see below). I have always wondered about the status of these prayers (especially as they don’t appear in the new translation). Were they composed specially? I’m sure somebody must know!
    “Father in heaven,
    from the days of Abraham and Moses
    until this gathering of your Church in prayer,
    you have formed a people in the image of your Son.
    Bless this people with the gift of your kingdom.
    May we serve you with our every desire
    and show love for one another
    even as you have loved us”
    (Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, alternative Opening Prayer)

    PS Take a look at the new Collect from the Fourth Sunday of Advent – you might recognise some familiar words!

    1. Anthony, the texts of the Alternative Opening Prayers were composed in English especially for the Sacramentary. They were intended to be rooted in the collects but a more poetic “take” on the images and ideas presented in the Latin originals. And if I recall correctly, one plan for the Sacramentary included four opening prayers: a translation of the Latin, the more poetic alternative prayer, another prayer based on the season, unrelated to the Latin original, and a fourth “prayer” that would be a blank space–text to be composed by the presider. Clearly, that plan never bore fruit.

  14. The collect/opening prayer that has long touched me is the alternative for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary time:

    God our Father,
    open our eyes to see your hand at work
    in the splendor of creation and in the beauty of human life.
    Touched by your hand, our world is holy.
    Help us to cherish the gifts that surround us,
    to share our blessings with our sisters and brothers,
    and to experience the joy of life in your presence;
    through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  15. Preface for Christmas (“old mass”)
    “In the wonder of the incarnation
    your eternal Word has brought to the eyes of faith
    a new and radiant vision of your glory.
    In him we see our God made visible
    and so are caught up in love of the God we can not see.”

    Compare this with the “new mass”:
    “For in the mystery of the Word made flesh
    a new light of your glory has shone upon the eyes of our mind,
    so that, as we recognize in him God made visible,
    we may be caught up through him in love of things invisible.”

    The latter translation reminds me of the episode of Mr Bean when he attends Sunday morning church service and the voice of the vicar is a monotone of unintelligible garbled noise:

    The words of the new translation will pass by our ears and leave us none the better for it

    1. Elias, consider this old prayer one of my “guilty pleasures” of the 1973. I remember the first time I heard it, and instantly memorized it. I’ll miss it! That said, I think if we are tempted to think of the new one in Mr. Bean’s vicar’s voice, we should pray for the vicar to sing the collects!

    2. EN –
      You are right:
      ‘The words of the new translation will pass by [y]our ears –
      will you be open to their import?
      If they leave you none the better for it, that is a conscious decision that you make.

      And, I thank you for quoting the new translation of the Christmas collect. It really is beautiful, isn’t it? Such richness expressed with such energy and grace!

      1. It will come as no surprise to you, MJO, that I disagree. The ’73 translation is explicit about what it is that we can’t see. The ’10 translation suggests that the Lord will lead us to love hydrogen, vacuums or the fluff down the back of the sofa.

        There are many things that we cannot see, and the sacred liturgy should point us at only some of them: secifically, the God we cannot see. I find that the lack of specificity renders absurd the whole prayer which, up to that point, was tending towards beauty. The ’73 achieves beauty; the ’10 shoots itself in the foot with the last clause.

        In my opinion.

  16. Thinking about it, I do have a favourite bit. Many, many times, this is the only thing that has dragged my sorry, sinful butt off the pew and down the aisle:

    Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed.

  17. I actually liked “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” It was memorable; it had rhythm; it conveyed a sense of forward movement to the eschaton by increasing each line by one syllable and the shifting tense of the verbs. Actually, I hope we haven’t seen the last of it.

    1. I’ve been encouraging people to use this acclamation coupled with appropriate psalm verses for things like the recessional or even the Communion procession or song of praise. …And I had never noticed the gradual progression of syllables. That’s nice.

    2. I share that hope. This might have been written for children, but it does wrap up the essence of our belief very neatly. What benefit to over-thinking, and even more, over-speaking?

    3. I am of the same mind as you, Fritz! I will miss the ease of acclamation of this text and the musical settings of it. It’ s a beautifully “acclamable”
      The other prayer portion I will miss is from Eucharistic Prayer IV, ” He always loved those who were his own in the world……” – a warm and human image of Christ.

    4. I am of the same mind as you, Fritz! This is a wonderfully succinct acclamation of the mystery of our faith. It’s brevity makes it very “acclamable” and very user friendly in assemblies from various parishes.
      I will also miss a portion of the fourth Eucharistic Prayer, “he always loved those who were His own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love. ” This is a beautifully human image of Jesus!!
      Another prayer I will miss comes from the Reconciliation I Canon:
      “When we were lost and could not find the way to you, you loved us more than ever; Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross. Yet before he stretched out his arms between heaven and earth in the everlasting sign of your covenant, he desired to celebrate the Paschal feast in the company of his disciples.”

    5. I agree with Deacon Fritz: this is one part of the mass that I shall miss. Of all the Memorial Acclamations, this one is most like an Acclamation rather than a Commentary. It is/was, as an Acclamation should be, a very concise, jubilant, and potent exclamation.

  18. Have you ever stopped to think how the folks back in 1964 felt when their experience of the Mass was turned completely upside down? Methinks these minor changes pale in comparison and in impact.

    1. I cringe when I see the traditionalist liturgical changes of the present time compared to the changes of the 1960s – because it sounds so much like payback, revenge, getting even, and “two wrongs make a right.” If that is the spirit of traditionalist liturgical renewal, it doesn’t sound very Christian to me. None of this is to minimize the pain some people truly experienced in the 1960s.

      Also, it sounds rather insensitive to tell other people that their feelings are out of proportion because the thing causing them distress is minor. Maybe it isn’t to them?


      1. This is hardly “payback, revenge, getting even,”
        or “two wrongs make a right.” It is simply an observation.
        Your reactionary retort and the reactions of others who find what is about to happen this Sunday, however, are certainly similar to the reactions many
        people had to the changes of 1964. I do not minimize the feelings of those who are distressed; I simply point out that they are minor compared to what happened in 1964, for I was there then and am here now to have witnessed both. With this in mind, I can solemnly assure you that what is
        going to happen Sunday will not be half as confusing as what happened on that First Sunday of Advent in 1964 and afterwards.

        I’m sorry if you feel my reaction to your reaction doesn’t “sound very Christian.” Maybe it doesn’t to me?

      2. Fr Ruff –
        I don’t at all regard this change of translations as payback. To do so would cheapen the feelings of those who were hurt in the ’60s, those who are hurt now, and whose who are now pleased with what we are getting. We would all grant wisely that our feelings of loss or gain are genuine, and that there is no desire for shabby revenge, nor for shabby triumphalism.
        I am very touched by the honestly expressed sadness of those who started this particular discussion. They are the first ones who, in my experience on this blog, have invited all to share in their pain WITHOUT villifying the new translation and those of us who like it; without praying for its failure and threatening childishly to scuttle it by some means or other. Frankly, as one who was reared on the BCP, I have always been astonished that most Catholics did not seem to register any particular unease at what to many of us was a paltry text, denuded (purposefully!) of the gracious richness of its Latin progenitor. I am deeply touched by and grateful for the sentiments expressed here with a lack of bitterness. Still, I do look forward, for the first time as a Catholic of 25 years, to attending mass at a normal Roman rite parish and using language which is not literarily alienating to me … I may begin to enjoy it as much as my own Anglican Use parish of Our Lady of Walsingham. And, I will say some special prayers for those who will be shorn of a language that they have come to love. (This does not mean that I am blind to some rather glaring literary blunders in the new text, but that neither am I blind nor complacent to the shortcomings and errors of the now-previous one).

      3. Anthony Ruff, OSB on November 22, 2011 – 7:43 am

        Father Ruff, I heard the new translation for the first time Monday morning. The English translation of the Roman Canon meshed beautifully with the Latin running through my mind. You would probably expect no other answer from me.

        Leaving the church after Mass I was filled with a sinful pride. “We’re well on the way to destroying the postmodern liturgical experiment! Here’s to the triumph of liturgical orthodoxy!” Then I remembered the suffering I experienced in the “indult years”, when EF Masses were scarce and we traditional Catholics were bitter, angry, and always sullen. We traditionalists went through our Kuebler-Ross, only to find that our rite indeed was resurrected. The almost forty year trail to Summorum Pontificum was hard won, indeed.

        I only pray that traditional and conservative Catholics do not visit on our progressive brothers and sisters the pain dealt to us in the 1960’s and 1970’s. If I were a priest, I would certainly celebrate the EF and the OF according to the new translation. I would make it a point, however, to concelebrate in a “liberal” parish occasionally as a sign of unity. Perhaps I will attend a Mass like this some time. If we are to remain one rite, our one doctrine and dogma in many liturgical forms requires gestures of charity and hospitality to maintain unity in diversity.

    2. From an analytical viewpoint–apart from what is good liturgy or bad liturgy, from what is bad or good politics–the changes now, whether for better or worse, surely are quite trivial in comparison with those of the 1960’s. Some texts are being altered, maybe improved, maybe not, but the liturgical context remains unchanged.

      Whereas, for many Catholics–whose spiritual lives then frequently centered more exclusively on the Mass and less on other aspects of parish life–the changes in the 1960’s resulted in a liturgy that they found difficult to recognize as the same Mass that had formed and sustained their faith. No one can reasonably say that today. So, whether what’s happening now is though good or bad, I really think that any claim of proportionality between now or then is utter nonsense.

  19. Why is it considered revenge when a Traditionalist points out a historical fact that there will be people pained by the new translations just as many were pained with the previous loss of Latin, along with the loss of many other traditions besides language, compounding the loss. Rubrics, ceremony, and ritual was also tossed aside in the previous era. If Traditionalists were to say nothing in recognizing a familiar pain they would be accused of insensativity or ignoring the plight of people who feel disappointed with the new translations. Sometimes it really is with no malice that people can relate to the loss. It is just a statement of “we felt that too”. I am sure that many of the previously translated prayers will still be there, albeit sounding a bit different. But if the gap is so wide and people can not find meaning in the new translation then that would seem to lend support that a new translation was really needed. If the new one, which translates the Latin much more faithfully, even with some errors is so far off from the previous translation we must stop, take a minute and wonder what we have been praying for the last 40 years. Even if loved by many, where did the some of the abstract ideas and wording come from? It should resemble the Latin and often it did not. Which few can argue with. I am confident that as faithful Catholics, in 5 years many of the people who are skeptical with these translations will indeed find many things to love and come across newly translated prayers that will have much meaning to them.

    1. Mitch, I think I would appreciate the statement, “we felt that too” if that were the only statement being made. But sometimes, some of those who also felt deep loss over changes in the 60s tend to express it with a tone that doesn’t elicit solidarity with the other in their grief or comforting encouragement but rather expresses something like resentment. It may be without malice for the other, but there just seems to be so much anger that it comes out in some way and gets directed at the other.

    2. It’s because very often, but not always, it sounds as if the traditionalist is saying that they went through an amputation and and we’re crying about a stubbed toe.

      1. Just thinking out loud ( with an attempt at restraint) –
        Those who are sad now over the loss of 73 in large part were unaware of, indifferent to, some were care-less of the suffering of those whose world vanished overnight, and freely made up a host of practices and liturgics that really weren’t Vatican II, but, rather what they said was the ‘spirit of Vatican II’. Organists, Choirmasters, Choirs, were chased away and the varieties of pseudo-musicians took over AS IF the council told them to to so. With great (usurped) authority they exiled Latin, our choral heritage, Priceless gold-tooled and gem encrusted altar missals really were rescued from garbage cans by Episcopalians, who were also thrilled to receive priceless vestments that were being discarded. You can not imagine the degree to which amatuer musician with no knowledge of the Church’s heritage of Latin AND English repertory simply walked in and took over while the almighty priest stood helplessly by ( unless he was actually complicit()
        I mention but the tip of the iceburg of that revolution and abuse. But! I do not do it as a way of saying that the feelings of those who truly are hurt over the loss of the ’73 translation are of any less value. They are of as great value as the feeling of those of the 60s and 70s. But, and here is the qualification: the church Herself is not undergoing the very real sort of French revolution that it did 50 years ago, when hardly a jot nor tittle of liturgy and spiritual life was left unturned, when almost the whole fabric of Catholic life was all but drawn and quartered.

        So it isn’t demeaning to those who grieve now to notice that the 60s and 70s were a time of immeasurable great cataclysm. Hardly a stone was left unturned.

        Now! We are but changine one translation to another. More hurt, though means this is not painless even though it is quantitatively of far less significance. It is compounded by the fact that, though the translation being replaced is has serious deficiencies, the new one has errors of a different sort.

    3. Look, let’s be accurate about the introduction of the vernacular.

      1. Those opposed to and/or confused by this were FEW, not many as a proportion of US Catholics (which doesn’t diminish the pain of those experienced it).

      2. The change to English was most popular with those who attended Mass the most frequently.

      3. The change then was from foreign to native language; the change now is qualitatively different, from one form of the vernacular to another.

  20. Having had the privilege of serving many a funeral, my favorite is from the Preface for Christian Death I:

    In him, who rose from the dead,
    our hope of resurrection dawned.
    The sadness of death gives way
    to the bright promise of immortality.

    Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.
    When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death
    we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.

    Change, like death, is inevitable. For those of us who love the liturgy, change is especially painful. I sure there were those who mourned the loss of the Holy Week rites in 1955, or the replacement of a favorite hymnal. Think of how many translations of scripture we’ve gone through. I think also of my Episcopalian friends who hated to see the 1928 Prayer Book go. It is very easy to fashion idols out of things we like. Whether the “new” is better than the “old” is going to be open to debate. No one will convince me that a Folk Mass is better than a Missa Cantata, or that liturgical dance is a good thing. As for the new translations, I will hold off my personal assessment until I hear them for a good three months. On paper many of them appear clunky. If they are recited in the casual, off-the-cuff manner I hear so often, they are doomed. If the celebrant takes the time to rehearse them so that they are delivered with proper speed, rhythm and inflection, they may have a chance. Those who will proclaim the entire endeavor a complete disaster after Mass on First Advent have another agenda, because it means they went to Mass with their minds already made up. My experience (20+ years) is that the faithful are put off more by bad celebrating, bad homilies and bad music than by inadequate language. Perhaps we should refocus our attention to those aspects of liturgy right now.

  21. I went through something similar when my parish was closed. Ostensibly, we were combined with another parish, but given that the entire staff was let go and the various volunteers shown the door, not much was left to combine!

    I’ve been in a new parish now several years, but there is still a feeling of being temporary. Living 10 miles away in a different community is part of that. The other part is realizing the pastor won’t live forever, and wondering if the next pastor will destroy this parish, too.

    “Master, to whom shall we go?”

  22. I will miss the preface of Christ the King, especially the final sentence. It was very beautiful when sung:

    …You anointed Jesus Christ, your only Son, with the oil of gladness, as the eternal priest and universal king.

    As priest he offered his life on the altar of the cross and redeemed the human race by this one perfect sacrifice of peace.

    As king he claims dominion over all creation, that he may present to you, his almighty Father, an eternal and universal kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.

    Clear and powerful, not at all bleached out or abstract.

    In its place we have a sprawling 93-word sentence.

    …For you anointed your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the oil of gladness as eternal Priest and King of all creation, so that, by offering himself on the altar of the Cross as a spotless sacrifice to bring us peace, he might accomplish the mysteries of human redemption and, making all created things subject to his rule, he might present to the immensity of your majesty an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

    I simply cannot see how this is any way an improvement on the 1973 translation.

    Pointing out that a job has been poorly done is not the same as ‘dissenting’.

    1. A 93 word sentence requires a true master of English, to work. We didn’t get too many of them in this translation effort. That light at the end of the tunnel? It’s an oncoming train, I think.

    2. JD –
      To be precise, there is a difference of about ten or eleven words between the ’73 and the ’11: so they are approximately equally ‘sprawling’, to use your adjective. What is it that you would suggest is otherwise not a more gracious and faithful rendering of this example? (I will grant that the much-maligned ‘immensity of your majesty’ is a little bit clumsy, but cannot apprehend what other fault one might find. The ’73 version can just as well be faulted for its purposeful pruning of imagery, rhythm, and substance.

      1. The “immensity of your majesty” is not just “a little clumsy,” it’s a mistranslation. The Latin is “imménsae tuae maiestáti,” dative, “to your infinite (or perhaps “unbounded”) majesty”. It is not majestatis, the genitive, “of your majesty.” The anonymous (sort of) Vox Clara person who ruined the correct 1998/2008 version and came up with this comical phrase (one pictures an obese potentate: “may it please Your Immense Majesty”) clearly did not recognize the third declension dative and had never been taught in first year Latin not to be bewitched by cognates (immensae = immense).

        And spare us the “oh, it’s better than 1973”. After forty years and two complete drafts of the Missal – not to mention all the money – we could have expected them to get the phrase right – or the Congregation entrusted by the Pope with catching this sort of thing to get the phrase right before granting the confirmatio to this kind of embarrassing error.

        Or better still, the Vox Clara operative could have left well enough alone the work of the translators who in 1998 and 2008 DID get it right.

        What’s going to be “a little clumsy” is showing the Pope all these errors some day . . . oh wait . . . as long as there’s priests after magenta fascias, monsignors after mitres, and bishops after pallia, there’s no danger of THAT happening.

      2. MJO, the longest sentence in the 1973 preface has 41 words, and it is divided with a colon to clarify its structure.

        The 1973 translation reveals the structure of the preface. It shows us what Christ did as priest, what he did as king, and why. For this preface, if you want to know ‘what does the prayer really say’ then the 1973 is your friend. The new translation piles clause upon clause. It is a gabble. It can be decoded, but if you are forced to do that, it’s probably easier to go back to the Latin.

        If you want the text to be a “sacred mystery”, deliberately not understood by the people, a “verbal iconostasis” then I suppose the new translation will serve. But if it’s a verbal iconostasis you want, why not simply do a word-for-word translation from the Latin and then ask a computer to put this in random order? Hmmm……

        Speaking of mysteries, I’m dubious about “he might accomplish the mysteries of human redemption”. How do you accomplish a mystery or mysteries? By reading to the last page?

        My guess is that the sense is closer to “sacraments” than “mysteries”. Let’s check the Latin – yes, it reads: “redemptionis humanae sacramenta perageret”. In this unusual case, the word-for-word approach could have helped the misguided translators. Perhaps they worried that “sacraments” could have been read as “the seven sacraments”.

        The new translation obscures the rhythm of the Latin, and, as XR has also pointed out, doesn’t deliver the substance and presents us with misleading imagery (“Yes, your Immensity”).

        By the way, the Latin preface contains only 57 words.

  23. I love the image of the nunc dimittis for this. I hope the translation will be able to go in peace, and the incessant gossip about what it did wrong will be quieted. We owe a great debt to the translators whose faith guided them in translating and even writing prayers used throughout the English speaking world. God bless them all.

    And just as the infant held by Simon grew to become the savior of the world, I hope the new translation will grow to be a light that gives light to all people.

    1. My thoughts exactly, Jim. I guess I simply can’t believe that the Holy Spirit isn’t doing something here. Each of us and each of our translations is merely a servant in a very long line. As we enter into the seasons of Incarnation, I can’t help but remember Matthew’s genealogy. There were some pretty bad apples in that line. None were perfect, and no translation will be perfect until we come to its fulfillment in Christ when no words will be needed at all.

      1. Given that the Lord works in mysterious ways, it may be his divine will to give a translation so bad that the US church hits open rebellion and pours so much egg onto the faces of the self-serving career-clerics in Rome that change for the better becomes unavoidable.

        In my wildest fantasies, of course. The Church has proven over 20 centuries how good it is at not changing.


  24. Since we’re faced with the new translation, some may like to see a “tailored” version of the four Eucharistic Prayers (entirely unofficial!). The tailoring shortens some of the long sentences, and changes wording at a very minimum level to facilitate prayerful proclamation without causing confusion. None of the congregational acclamations are changed. Word changes which can be implemented during proclamation – for example, inclusive language in EP IV – are not made. The PDF document can be found at

    1. I respect what you’re trying to do, but I don’t want to see an unofficial version of anything – of anything that causes more division, confusion and bickering. Why does each parish feel the need to revise the liturgy, as if its congregation was SO unique? A Jesuit once said that when it comes to liturgy, people want “good preaching, good music and a sense of community.” I’m beginning to see the wisdom of his words. As the trads say, “Just say the black and do the red.” And I would add “And do it well!” An oversimplification, of course, but you get the point. Let’s talk about why Father can’t preach, and why people don’t sing, both of which have nothing to do with translations…

      1. “I respect what you’re trying to do, but I don’t want to see an unofficial version of anything –”

        Then don’t follow the link. Others might wish to see how some ideas could work.

    2. I’m sorry if I came across as testy. I was at the time, and I apologize to Padraig if I’ve offended. As an intellectual exercise, I think it’s fine. Perhaps recalling priests saying “The Lord IS with you!”, composing their own collects and ad-libbing canons caused me to overreact. Obviously I’m on the side of “proclaim it as written”. I will try to be more temperate in my comments going forward.

  25. I suppose I don’t find Joe O’Leary’s poke edifying or convincing either. He does well enough to take aim at bishops and laity, but not a peep on clergy.

    The truth of it is that the words are peripheral to the spirit of the liturgy. The new ones certainly offer their own unique set of barriers, but when haven’t people stumbled into the way of the Gospel?

    I suppose that no matter how many liturgical folk demonstrate their faithfulness, all we’re going to hear about this train wreck in the future is how the bitter libruls sabotaged the works.

    Oh, I’ll implement on Saturday night all right, but I harbor no illusions that its not another triumph for the antigospel.

    1. Todd,
      Remember a couple of weeks ago at your combox wherein I posited as how “we have lost our way” being replaced by “ME, Myself and I only know THE WAY” attitudes on all sides of these issues might fearfully lead to yet another needless schism? Well, there’s lots of reasons to weep and grieve among many of the sentiments expressed here and elsewhere, and I don’t demean those as such by Diana, Paul and Jerry. But to propagandize this moment, even if in jest, by citing SSPX as a precursor and rationale for SSPVI, is abhorent and anathema if we are One Body.
      Yesterday I had the respectful honor to rehearse our senior vicar, who is my age (60) and counts himself among the VII progressivist wing, with the Missal Chants from “In the Name…” through “Go in peace…” and with the Advent prefaces as well. He remarked how well, in fact, they sang for him; he’d expected to be bogged down with phraseological clunkiness. (I also recorded our session and sent them to our other five celebrants; we have four parishes.)
      Things in this worldly realm do pass. But the Church is not of this realm, despite how many would politically mischaracterize it for their own edification. If “we” are indeed The Church, we’ve been promised eternal life and nothing, gates of hell, nothing can prevail against us. So, one Missal has passed, and one is being born and will be borne. The Church is NOT dead.

  26. [Tony Corvaia reminded us:]

    the Preface for Christian Death I:

    In him, who rose from the dead,
    our hope of resurrection dawned.
    The sadness of death gives way
    to the bright promise of immortality.

    Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.
    When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death
    we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.

    I once experienced a pastor using this preface at a wedding! He had preached on the fact that the couple’s lives would now be transformed, together with the letting-go of things past and the embracing of things to come.

    At the beginning of the 2nd paragraph, he tweaked the preface text to

    “Lord, for Samantha and Michael life is changed, not ended…….”

  27. I haven’t experienced anyone grieving for the now defunct translation although I recognize there are some who are and they have posted comments here. I don’t think it is getting even to recall what happened in the aftermath of Vatican II, but the fact that no one seems to realize that people grieve about many things in many different ways and what they grieve about varies in importance when compared to real tragedies we experience. Hopefully the death of a pet is not viewed as significant as the death of a parent, child, spouse or friend but one grieves nonetheless and for a long time. If it appears that some are callous toward those who grieve the passing of this translation it has to be compared to those who were just as callous toward those who lost significant aspects of their Catholic faith in the 1960’s and 70’s. That is not to justify callousness but to recognize it as a part of human sinfulness or at least brokenness.

  28. I don’t lament the passing of the 1973 translation; I don’t grieve over the loss of the 1998 translation; and I’m not very enthusiastic about the forthcoming translation–especially after the job done to it by the CDW and/or Vox Clara.

    If I were a priest, I would bootleg the 1966 English-Latin Sacramentary for the orations and prefaces (adjusted for the differences in the revised ferial and sanctoral cycles)–a better English translation from a better Latin text. If questioned about it by some liturgical “policeman” (official or self-styled), I would reply that I’m doing my part for the “mutual enrichment” between the “two forms of the same rite.”

    1. In 1964, the United States bishops opted to keep Latin for the Collect, the then-Secret, and the Postcommunion (as well as the Prefaces, of course). So it was that the English-Language Sacramentary you refer to came out in 1966, using (pretty much) the Maryknoll Missal translation for those three orations and the Prefaces (and Dennis Fitzpatrick’s translation of the Exsultet from the Friends of the English Liturgy “Demonstration English Altar Missal” (which you should grab whenever it comes up on eBay!).

      But the Canadian and Australian bishops opted to go with English for the Collect, Secret and Postcommunion right from 1964 on. Therefore, Benziger in New York printed TWO altar missals in 1964: the USA one with those orations in Latin; and the Canadian-Australian one with those orations in English. But the English was NOT from the Maryknoll Missal which the USA would adopt in 1966, instead, the Collects were done by that incomparable scholar of ecclesiastical Latin, Dr. Christine Mohrmann, who had done them for the 1964 one volume Benziger Roman Breviary. The other two prayers were, I think, revisions into you/your English (from thou/thine) of The New Roman Missal by Fr Lasance.

  29. I thought the question was what was your favorite prayer from the current sacramentary not a commentary about how people are grieving or looking forward to the third edition?

  30. I’ve been enjoying reading everyone’s favorite prayers from the (still current) Sacramentary. It’s been a nice way to spend these last few days. Thanks to those of you who’ve been sharing them. I can remember moments when each of your favorites have stood out for me in a particular liturgy or another—even Fr. Allan’s dismissal! 🙂

    Perhaps I need this prayer now more than ever.

    With gratitude this last week of Ordinary Time for colleagues across the miles and even across the liturgical spectrum,

  31. Diana, greetings from the East Coast.

    Trying to get back to the original post’s proposal, here are my two favorites.

    Prayer after Communion, 24th Sunday in OT
    Very simple, but gets a great point across.

    may the eucharist you have given us
    influence our thoughts and actions.
    May your Spirit guide and direct us in your way.
    We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

    My second favorite is not prayed often because of Lent’s rotating calendar, but is another great one.

    Prayer after Communion, 9th Sunday in OT

    as you give us the body and blood of your Son,
    guide us with your Spirit
    that we may honor you
    not only with our lips,
    but also with the lives we lead,
    and so enter your kingdom.
    We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

  32. Lovely, Steve. I do like the “get to the point” style of some of the current post-Communion prayers. One of my favorites is from the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time:

    “Lord, bring to perfection within us
    the communion we share in this sacrament.
    May our celebration have an effect in our lives.
    We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.”

    Simple, direct. You know exactly what this Communion was for. In the same way, I am looking forward to praying the new dismissal texts.

    Grace and peace to you from the West Coast!

  33. XR – at comment 54 (or what used to be 54) —

    At least the ’11 has attempted what the ’73 deliberately ignored by following the misguided trends which were in vogue at that time. We may indeed gasp that surely, somewhere in Rome, there could have been Latin scholars who were less inept than the ones in question. Still, we are better off with a few ineptnesses here and there than with the shameless gossamer which resulted from purposefully denuding the Latin of its richness of imagery and rhythm. To me, the incredibly pedestrian ’73 is a greater misdeed.

    Further, would you tell me (and I am not being snide) what it is about the ’98 translation that earns for it such high approbation from some quarters? In viewing the order of mass it does not seem to me to be an improvement at all. In some respects it is worse: Gloria has not been repaired, but is worse. Sanctus has not been repaired… nor ‘and with you also’. I would say that such a a construction as ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth’ is quite as silly as ‘the immensity of your majesty’. How transparently and shamelessly faddy! One might expect that people would howl that nobody would speak like that. I have not seen the collects and prefaces, but if what I have seen is representative, the ’98 seems only to be a somewhat doctored up ’73.

    1. “At least”

      As I’ve said on here so many times, the old Novice Master used to say that the difference between the Saints and the rest of us is that the Saints always say “If only ….” and the rest of us settle for “at least.”

      How many times has the damning of ’73 sounded the refrain that “it was done quickly, by people without sufficient knowledge of all the scriptural and patristic references and allusions in the Latin texts, no poets, theologians, musicologists,” etc.

      All I’m saying is that this Vox Clara Pell-Moroney-Ward production is the supposedly ripe fruit of a dozen years and a rejected draft (1998) and another dozen years and a corrected draft (2008), and 7000 experts, and salesmen flown all over the place and wined and dined and housed in 5 star hotels, and a Vatican confirmatio – and they can’t get the dative right or find an antecedent?

      And the only thing we can do is shrug and say “at least”?

      As for 98, as I understand it from people who know it better than I, the idea in translating the Ordinary was to change as little as possible in the people’s texts, responses, etc.? And drafts were circulated and progress reports issued to supporters and critics alike? As opposed to all the Conferences of English-speaking bishops approving a text that anonymous people then correct by mistranslating Latin, violating LA, and fracturing the English, and obtaining the confirmatio. While basically lying to the bishops – who pass it on to us – that the only changes are punctuation and standardizing usage …

      And why is hominibus

    2. and why is hominibus “people of good will” in the Gloria, while homines in the (I predict soon to be abandoned) Nicene Creed “for us men”? I guess the “standardization committee” missed that one. “Peace to God’s people on earth” sounds no sillier to me than “peace on earth to people of good will.” Isn’t there or wasn’t there once a dispute about whether the Gloria text means those who have good will or those who are the object of God’s benevolence? Didn’t Knox go with “and on earth peace to those with whom God is pleased”? Can’t look it up – travel, no books. Where I live, it’s “et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis” so … the only issue is usually will it be Gloria IX or X for Our Lady, XV for a regular day, or More Ambrosiano when the crazy Milanese is at the organ. As long as it’s not VIII – there’s enough of that at St Peter’s. I can’t wait until il Papa’s reform of the reform finds us a different Gloria now and then, and Credo I (or my favorite IV) instead of III. Try singing VIII or that matching Credo III to an English maypole rhythm … and you’ll see why it should be retired … or at least rotated. But I digress … wildly …

  34. I think my favorite text from the 1973 Sacramentary are 2 parts from the Preface of John the Baptist. The first is the image of John leaping in the womb in response to the presence of Mary when she visited Elizabeth.

    His birth brought great rejoicing:
    even in the womb he leapt for joy,
    so near was our salvation.

    The second it about the baptism of Christ and is sheer poetry.

    He baptized Christ,
    the giver of baptism,
    in waters made holy by the one who was baptized.

    Proof that English can properly convey the riches of the Latin without being constrained by Latin constructs.

  35. JD – at what is or used to be no. 57

    Without reference to any given translation, I do like your signifer, ‘verbal iconostasis’: what a beautiful concept! I have often, similarly, referred to the masterpieces of our choral heritage as ‘icons in sound’, or ‘phonic icons’. Similarly, sacred chant that has been used as the basis of a motet or choral work has been ‘enshrined’ within the choral structure. I do hope, then, that your use of ‘verbal iconostasis’ is meant to be a positive category. Best regards – Jackson

  36. I second the nomination of these two as among the most beautiful of our departing texts:

    17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Alternate:

    God our Father,
    open our eyes to see your hand at work
    in the splendor of creation,
    in the beauty of human life.
    Touched by your hand our world is holy.
    Help us to cherish the gifts that surround us,
    to share your blessings with our brothers and sisters,
    and to experience the joy of life in your presence.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.

    23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Alternate:

    Lord our God, in you justice and mercy meet.
    With unparalleled love you have saved us from death
    and drawn us into the circle of your life.
    Open our eyes to the wonders this life sets before us,
    that we may serve you free from fear
    and address you as God our Father.
    We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

    My understanding is that these texts were originally composed in English…and personally, the speak deeply to me.

  37. At First Friday mass earlier this month, gathered with the community from my parish school, I reached Memorial Acclamation A from “Mass of Creation” (the setting we always use at this gathering), and realized I was getting a little teary at the thought that I wouldn’t be playing and singing and praying it again.

    And then, in a little sign of God’s goodness and reminder that goodbyes are not permanent, a couple celebrating their wedding anniversarythe following weekend asked for MoC, and there it was again.

    It’s what, eight measures of music, attached to a simple, clear text. But I will miss it.

  38. So much talk about how the changes that came as a result of Vatican 2.caused much grief . What people forget is that over 3000 Bishops of the world voted AFTER MUCH DISCUSSION AND DEBATE,to give us Mass in the vernacular. This “New Mass” has been foisted on us ,without the same degree of discussion.What most parishioners are upset about is the movement BACKWARDS.The movement to take us back to the Latin Mass, the intention is to erode , in fact to eradicate Vatican 2 altogether. Has it not occurred to the powers that be, if they succeed in this—–WHO WILL PAY A BLIND BIT OF ATTENTION TO ANY COUNCILS IN THE FUTURE? I think I will be taking a ” sabbathical” from the church for some time to come. I will not be a party to further erosion of Vatican 2. I am 73 yrs young who has 7 children and 20 grandchildren and I was a daily communicant for 30 yrs. But –ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Words cannot express the sorrow I feel and it has nothing to do with the silly alterations to the Liturgy.

  39. I know the reason we had the alternate prayers in the Sacramentary was because of a provision in Comme le prevoit and ICEL composed the prayers for us.

    Then we saw the Italians composed Lectionary based prayers for each cycle, echoing the Gospel.

    Two questions: are the Italians still using those?

    Is there any indication that we will eventually be able to do that? I think the Lectionary based ones were amazing. Especially presented in the volumes by LTP.

    Diana, Fr. Ruff, anyone know?

    Off to the first “roll out” Mass!
    Prayers to all of you this weekend.

  40. Sorry for jumping in late… I was on vacation last week.

    I really regret losing my favorite line in the Ordinary, following the Our Father:
    “as we wait in joyful hope…”
    Awaiting in joyful hope has become an integral part of my prayer life, and I’ll miss that phrase that I always would say along with the priest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *