Through him, with him, in him…

1 Through him, with him, in him, [current]
3 in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
4 all glory and honor is yours,
2 almighty Father,
5 for ever and ever.

This current text of the doxology is quite good, I think. The language of our current sacramentary in many places is rather flat and pedestrian, but this isn’t one of them. This rendering also accounts for the Latin almost entirely, with the exception of Deo Patri becoming just “Father.”

The line order differs from the Latin, but I think the nature of the English language justifies this. Here is the Latin.

1   Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso [Latin]
2 est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti,
3 in unitate Spritus Sancti,
4 omnis honor et gloria,
5 per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

But Latin can say Benedictus vidit Anthonium or Anthonium vidit Benedictus, either of which are translated “Benedict sees Anthony.” The great fun of Latin syntax, with its case system and its gendered nouns and adjectives, is that it can play with word order in ways English can’t. The Latin speaker would hear the datives in line 2 (Deo, Patri, omnipotenti) and by instinct expect a nominative subject to go with the dative of the possessor. The Latin speaker would not be thrown off by the seeming interruption of line 3 because it has an ablative followed by two genetives. The mind formed by Latin syntax would naturally connect line 2 and line 4. Not so English. Hence the line order of the current doxology.

The 2008 recognitio text had this.

1 Through him, and with him, and in him, [2008]
2 to you, O God, almighty Father,
3 in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
4 is all honor and glory,
5 for ever and ever.

This isn’t bad either. Obviously the line order now follows the Latin, but I think it works. It is slightly unnatural to separate lines 2 and 4, and the English speaker has to struggle ever so slightly to connect “to you…is all honor and glory,” but I think this would happen with repeated use. The literal following of Latin in line 1 with an “and” for each et seems slightly awkward to me, but this could just be a matter of what I’m accustomed to.

But hang on. Here’s what we’re getting now.

1 Through him, and with him, and in him, [2010]
2 O God, almighty Father,
3 in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
4 all glory and honor is yours,
5 for ever and ever.

Something has gone off the rails here. Now we have the Latin line order, but without the Latin syntax! Line 2 is now entirely in the vocative case, unlike the Latin. It addresses God the Father directly. But this doesn’t work. We need either the line order of the current doxology or the syntax of the 2008 text. By using the line order of the Latin but not its syntax, line 3 is now left hanging and doesn’t quite make sense. The listener now connects it to line 2 which was just heard, but in fact it belongs with lines 1 and 4. The 2008 text, by putting line 2 in the English dative (of course by means of a preposition rather than case ending), signaled to the listener that line 3 is bracketed and line 4 completes the thought.

This is not good at all. If there is one thing that priests sing at English Mass, it is this doxology. Many priests don’t sing the preface. (Mike McMahon of NPM once estimated to me that perhaps 95% of Sunday Masses have a spoken preface. Even taking into account that he’s on the east coast and not in the Midwest, that sounds about right to me.) Few priests sing the entire Eucharistic prayer, or the dialogues such as greetings and the dismissal. But almost every priest sings “Through him, with him, in him.” This is something we wanted to get right.

But I’m just one voice. Is there anyone out there who wishes to defend the new doxology text??


  1. I too prefer the version we have presently, especially for the sake of singability. It seems that this most recent version of the Doxology came as a complete surprise to ICEL as much as I can tell. It was not expected.

  2. To me, number 1 seems the best, for understanding, for singing, for smooth English proclamation.

    I am all for theological accuracy and richness, but I must say all this craze for fidelity to the Latin has saddled us with a lot of superfluous conjunctions. I puzzle over why is it more theologically correct or rich to say “and” over and over, and I can’t come up with a persuasive reason.

    It seems like literalism for its own sake, a slide down into a sort of fundamentalism of the Latin text. In other words, to defend against harmful changes one has to reject every change—as if we are incapable of judging between felicitous and destructive choices.

    What is equally disturbing as the renunciation of intellect involved in fundamentalism is the possibility that such “mindless” additions suggest that Latin not merely CARRIES the tradition but IS the tradition which we must pass on with religious devotion. Thus saying “and” over and over must be preserved. Even if we don’t know what it means, we assume it means something, and we dare not lose it.

  3. These general issues—fundamentalism, and the elevation of the Latin language to the status of an object of faith—which seem to stand behind choices such as this, concern me a lot. First, I look at fundamentalist groups in religious communities (Muslim, Jewish, and Christian), and I see that a lot of destructive behaviors accompany them. Second, I believe Catholicism has been a tradition that esteems the life of the mind, and the idea that Latinity is an object of faith doesn’t stand up for a minute to intellectual scrutiny. Are we losing something more important of our Catholic tradition by trading sensible choices for accurate but mindless ones?

  4. As an English and Latin teacher, I see it both ways. No, the English translation is not as smooth as the former version, but I’m not sure it is supposed to be. Nonetheless, I think it is important to go with whatever the Church proposes. Personally, I don’t understand why a priest couldn’t sing the Doxology (as well as the responses to the readings, the introductory dialogue of the Preface, the Our Father, and the Final Blessing) in Latin all the time. It is something very simple that the people would be able to learn and understand. It would also be in keeping with the Church’s directives that Latin remain the principal language of the liturgy and that the people be able to sing and respond to parts of the Mass in Latin. This would solve a lot of problems with what some people see as awkward English translations.

    1. Principal language? I think that’s stretching it. Wonderful that you are a latin teacher. Even if much latin had continued in the liturgy following V2, can you imagine the difficulties trying to teach people the language? The majority of kids at my parish attend public schools. Latin language is not a real concern for them (well, same for the Catholic schools) Do we hold classes in latin so we can have the liturgy in latin? Do we just teach the basics and let them regurgitate responses with little or no understanding of their meaning? People come to Mass for community/sacraments – not language lessons.

      1. First of all, I teach Latin in a public school and know firsthand what it is like to get kids to learn Latin. Honestly, they do quite well.

        It would not be that difficult to incorporate the following responses from the Mass:

        1. “Et cum spiritu tuo.”
        2. The text of the Gloria
        3. “Deo gratias.”
        4. The text of the Credo
        3. “Habemus ad Dominium”
        4. “Dignum et iustum est”
        5. The Sanctus
        6. The Memorial Acclamations
        7. The Pater Noster
        8. The Agnus Dei

        Moreover, I have been a parish choir director and organist for over 20 years and have had no problem with our parish’s learning these responses.

        As Annie Sullivan said in William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker about the blind and deaf Helen Keller: “Imitate now. Understand later.” If it can work for a blind and deaf girl, it can work for the sighted and hearing folks in the pews. People come to Mass to have the liturgy celebrated the way the Church wants it done. If the Church insists that the people be able to pray and respond in Latin, then so be it.

        Finally, permit me to recall the words of Blessed Pope John XXIII, the Father of the Second Vatican Council, who had this to say about the Latin language in his great Apostolic Constitution “Veternum Sapientia”:

        “Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and…

      2. “and is equally acceptable to all.

        Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin’s formal structure. Its ‘concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity’ makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression …

        Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

        But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use …

        Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”

      3. V2 was only meant to be a start. The Church, for the most part, has rejected Latin in liturgical use. Is that good or bad? You are entitled to your opinion. I have worked in both elderly parishes and slightly-right of the middle parishes. Never has anyone asked for more Latin. If your parishioners enjoy it, then so be it. “Keep your Church alert in faith to the signs of the times and eager to accept the challenge of the gospel.” – EP for VNO 3. Far more important things than teaching the Mass in Latin, at least to me.

      1. +JMJ+

        I think Paul has higher motives than the personal one you mention.

        As for teaching ecclesiastical Latin, the least a Catholic school could do is teach the Latin of the Order of the Mass, starting with the dialogues and working from there.

      2. @ Jeffrey – Why? The kids are busy enough as it is. And what of the homeschooled children and those that attend non-Catholic schools? There are already enough divisions between the kids.

  5. I’m not a musician, so I try not to comment on music theory, etc, but I sing the current one every Sunday at multiple Masses. I experimented with the previous revised one and made a good go of it, people sang the Amen as usual. I sing the Per Ipsum in Latin during Lent, Advent and at every daily Mass I have, I love it, very easy to sing. Just tried the recently revised new one prior to writing this, no problem. Just as long as you get the “forever and ever” correct, the Amen will flow very well.

    1. ” I experimented with the previous revised one”

      Goodness me, Fr., your previous postings have never given any indication that you’re the kinda guy who’d agree with, let alone experiment with UNAPPORVED TEXTS . . . I’m glad, however, that when priests use unapproved texts in future, we’ll know where you stand.

      Perhaps you’ll be a leader of the group seeking a ‘Summorum Pontificum’ kinda situation for people with a genuine attachment to the Missal of Paul VI . . .

      1. Chris, sarcasm, while occasionally humorous, is unbecoming and mostly unhelpful to this discussion. Painting in overly broad black and white strokes, is also rarely productive. Check out Fr. Allan’s blog ( and review his postings here at Pray Tell and you will find he is a reasonable man who can engage in reasoned debate and discussion about the liturgy. Unlike many, he is respectful of the Novus Ordo and is *even* open to revisions of the Extraordinary form too. Is that not a shared goal that we all have – to have our liturgy the best it can be, for God and for us?

      2. Thanks Michael for the kind words; but just a reminder to Chris Grady that the new translation is the Mass of Pope Paul VI, just as the Latin version is, the Spanish, etc. I doubt that there will be a “SP” for a particular translation of English now replaced, but I can’t predict the future. I never thought I’d be celebrating the EF Mass on any regular basis, but now I am! In terms of experimentation with texts, I will add my mea culpa three times with the last one being maximum! I’m a still an unredeemed creature of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s not to mention, 80’s 90’s 2000’s. It’s not my fault, but everyone else’s! 🙂

    2. How fortunate your people are! Remember eveyone- the council calls us to sing the ordinaries in Latin: “Be not afraid”!

    1. +JMJ+

      What makes you think you are using that word in the same manner which Bl. Pope John XXIII used it? And where does this impression that “V2 was only meant to be a start” come from? (I don’t believe that the documents are “compromises”.)

    2. I would contradict Jeffrey Pinyan’s assertion. It’s not that we moved beyond it, we never realized the stated goals of the council in the first place.
      Those of us in a younger generation, who can think independently and are not tied to the spirit of the age of Vat II, will be carrying things forward in the future.
      And after reading documents and having the gift of encountering the liberalized use of the EF, celebrated with prayerful attention, we all know something went really wrong.

  6. If it doesn’t need fixing, leave it be…of course, that pretty much goes for the entire new translation (which isn’t really a translation as much as turning words from one language into another language which we’re supposed to understand, but whose grammar/syntax is so awful it will be quite unrecognized…parts will fall gently on the ear, but too many parts are awfully discordant to native English speakers!) English has a different “order” than Latin…or Spanish, etc. … trying to understand English written in “order” of Latin does not work…period.

  7. John XXIII was indeed pressured to write an apostolic constitution fostering the use of Latin. Never was an apostolic constitution so ignored. I say the Church should bag Latin altogether. It’s causing chaos with our liturgical music, and the slavish attention to it is the root cause for the awful new translation. I have never heard a compelling reason why the Church needs an “official language” that virtually no one speaks or understands.

    1. Jan, I’m not certain how mainstream your view is but I don’t think it is very pastoral because it appears to sanction suppressing something that the Church not only permits but promotes. Justice to the people compels us to make Latin widely available to them. In addition to liturgical and ritual (rite) justice here are some reasons that seem compelling to me:
      1). the beauty it brings to the liturgy,
      2) it does much to preserve the sense of the mystery at the Mass,
      3). it does not require frequent updating,
      4). it strengthens our identity as Roman Catholics,
      5) it is unifying-very important in a US Church that has many multi-language Masses, (“liturgical hospitality” still places one vernacular in preference to the other which can be seen as magnifying our divisions at a time in when we should highlight our unity),
      6). it is a core component of our rite and it expresses the genius or our rite in a unique way.
      7)it protects us from debates over inclusive language.

      8 It preserves accuracy in the meaning of prayers in a way modern vernaculars do not.
      9) The Council of Trent (enough said).
      10) Vatican II (enough said).

      A Latin Catholic being opposed to Latin at Mass makes no more sense to me that it would for a Maronite Catholic to oppose the use of Aramaic in their liturgy. And today, both rites grant much room to the vernacular.

  8. Jan, I’m sure you’ll take some hits for this, so I’ll go first. I’ll try to be gentle.

    I think some Latin is a good sign of our link to the past, and our links with the universal church, and a way (not the only way) for multi-lingual grops to worship together – Fr. Mike Joncas has spoken of “cross cultural hospitality.” Also, I think we should keep chant and polyphony in use, at least in the exceptional places which can do it well, and much of that repertoire is tied to Latin. I observe mainline Protestants being quite open to Latin for musical reasons, so I think we Catholics can certainly do the same.

    But alas, my position is now tied to so many other ideologies in our Church, it’s getting harder for me to feel comfortable promoting chant or Latin.



  9. Fr. Anthony and Jan,

    Take a look at Farncoise Waquet’s book Latin or the Empire of a Sign. She debunks the idea that Latin has magical powers and shows the consequences of unrealistic claims made for its use as well as its very real benefits in different periods. She endorses an idea of the Italians: “Latin will be saved not by making many study it badly, but by making a few study it well.” And these few will use it not so much to access the ancient Romans as the Fathers of the Church and the “colossal mass of documents” from the medieval and early modern eras. BTW Waquet was director of CNRS as of 2001 when the translation of her book was published.

  10. If we have to endure clumsy translations on our way to figuring things out, fine with me. There is nothing magical about Latin. But there’s nothing magical about Engish, either. Latin is the blueprint for the universal Church, not English, so fidelity to the Latin matters for overall unity.
    Us English speakers need to keep in mind the whole of the Church when debating the value of changes and keeping close to the Latin. Supposedly Catholics in the US make up less than 6% of the Church.
    But we seem to whine out of proportion. 🙂

    1. And the other 94% are deeply at home and at ease with Latin, including liturgical Latin? This is a very high, dare I say, extraordinary claim.

      As I have said before, the Italian (yes, Italian!) conference is finding the dictates of Liturgiam authenticam in favor of a close adherence to the Latin structure and syntax pastorally unsuitable to its work of providing a revision of the 1983 Messale Romano.

      As well, it appears that a number of the changes made in the collects and prefaces of the “2008” Roman Missal by Vox Clara over the last year favor a dynamic or functional equivalence approach rather than a formal equivalence approach in the translation of the now mandated Roman Missal A well-known tale: Rome makes the rules; Rome breaks the rules.

      Anyone having more than a cursory experience of the work of translation knows that at times (for example, a Latin collect) formal equivalence is entirely possible. At other times, dynamic or functional equivalence is the only way forward. And at times, in the same text there will be a mixture of formal end functional equivalent approaches. See the “1998” Roman Missal as a good example of the need to be open to all three approaches.

      What breaks my heart is that the new texts are so rhythmically insecure. They have little respect for the natural cadences of the English language. They are broken-backed. A text that is hard to proclaim, and even more to understand (the hearers) has scant chance of lifting the mind and…

    2. cont.

      and heart to God.

      Guides to the art of translation are certainly helpful. But rule books! That way madness lies.

  11. Here’s a version of the great doxology in English that has been in use for centuries.

    Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
    by Whom and with Whom,
    in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
    all honour and glory be unto Thee,
    O Father Almighty,
    world without end.

    When I first heard it as a young adult, during an Anglican Holy Communion, I realized how we could pray in an uplifting way in our own language while confirming our debt to and ratification of the Latin original. A few years later we began using the ICEL version in our own masses and I couldn’t help noticing the parallel structure. It certainly was not a coincidence.

    I wonder whether the promoters of authenticity have in mind a version that is so grammatically wedded to the Latin original, and thus so inferior to the original, that we would be driven back to the original in disgust. (Something like that happens with the versions of the mass sequences that match the rhythms of the Latin originals but have little else to commend them.) If that is so, I would answer them that new wine requires new wineskins.

  12. John Robert Francis said As I have said before, the Italian (yes, Italian!) conference is finding the dictates of Liturgiam authenticam in favor of a close adherence to the Latin structure and syntax pastorally unsuitable to its work of providing a revision of the 1983 Messale Romano.

    Not only the Italians (and if you think improvisation is a problem in English celebrations, you should see not only what is already happening in Italy but what they are preparing to do, which is simply use the new text as a springboard for doing their own thing or continuing to use what they have now).

    The German and French-speaking conferences are also having huge problems. We have seen what the Germans did with the funeral rites. Could they do the same with the Missal?

    The French-speaking conferences are tearing their hair out. They had been hoping that the English-speaking conferences would have had the balls to stand up to Rome and say No, which would then given them a precedent for doing the same. At one point it looked as if this might come to pass, but alas there are too many English-speaking prelates still seeking preferment.

  13. Although I don’t think that I can defend the latest incarnation of the translation in toto, I have some observations that may be of interest. First, I’d like to point out that the polysyndeton (use of multiple conjunctions) of the introduction has an effect and is not equivalent to the asyndetic alternative. First, polysyndeton is less emotional; asynedeton sometimes was a mark of more highly emotive language. Secondly, there is a paralellism among the items, not simply an accumulation. Asyndeton was sometimes also used in ordering items in salience or unexpectedness. Having et’s or and’s between the items helps diffuse the potential misreading that “in ipso” somehow outshines the former two phrases. The polysyndeton gives the feeling of a more cautiously articulated progression.

    Fr. Anthony takes issue with the rendering of the second line as all vocatives. He’s right, but I’m not sure for the right reason and I’m not sure that the alternative translations pick up on it either. What would the difference in meaning have been if the line in Latin read, “est tibi, Deus Pater omnipotens,”? Looking at it from the other angle, why is it important that “Deo Patri omnipotenti” be in apposition to tibi? I think that the appositive can express an implied “in that, because, in your capacity as” that a simple vocative would not.

    1. (cont’d) Remember, there is no pres. act. partic. of esse in Latin, so Latin appositives sometimes are most felicitously translated with subordinate clauses in English. Vocatives (unless you’re Vergil) don’t behave that way in Latin. As it is, all of the translations translate as if the phrase were vocative.

      Fr. Anthony is right that there is a clunkiness in theh 2010 version. I think the reason for the clunkiness is that we don’t know where the sentence is going in the 2010 version, and in English, if we don’t get a subject or a verb after a while we get anxious. Although the 2008 version might seem better, what it does is offer a focus term “to you” that helps us keep from biting our fingernails as we await our subject and verb. The problem is that in the Latin, tibi is unemphatic and not a focus term. Rather, est is the emphatic topic for the rest of the sentence (not uncommon with datives of possessor), as we can tell from its initial word order after ther string of prepositional phrases and tibi’s expected enclitic placement: all honor and glory truly/actually/in fact IS…

      Although I have other issues, what the 2008 translation has over the other versions is that it best translates the nuance of a dative of possessor. What we have is “est tibi” not “est tua”. I probably would have translated the whole thing as,

    2. “Through him and with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, as God the almighty Father, you indeed enjoy all glory and honor, unto ages of ages.

  14. English doesn’t use the dative of the possessor. ‘Is yours’ is the nearest to ‘you possess’. The 1973 translator had a gifted ear.The positioning of ‘Almighty Father’ exactly emphasises the address and the asyndeton of ‘Through him …’ emphasizes the Latin emphatic pronoun (ipsum/ipso). The proposed jingle ‘Through him and with him ..’ loses it. A pity we didn’t adopt the Italian solution: ‘Through Christ, with Christ and in Christ’ which conveys the full liturgical theology of ‘ .. ipsum .. ipso .. ipso’

  15. +JMJ+

    Here’s my proposal:

    Through him, [and] with him, [and] in him,
    in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
    to you, O God, almighty Father,
    is all honor and glory, [or: glory and honor]
    for ever and ever.

    It is close enough to the 1973 translation to fit our current melodies, faithful to the Latin (even the dative!), and it makes sense.

    If we’re going to have a Missal where we all get a say, can this be my contribution?

    As to English and the dative (the comment just above mine), it may not be in our common parlance, but it shows up in plenty of hymns, old and new (e.g. “All glory, laud, and honor to you Redeemer-King…”)

  16. Jeffrey, it almost works. The trouble (which has not been referred to in any of the responses) consists in the weakness of the word “is” in English. No, I do not think we should omit “is” from our writing, but we should recognize that “is to you,” coming after all the weight of the period sentence preludes, does not have the heft to counterbalance what precedes it. In English periodic sentences, the sense lines have to be distributed carefully so that their poetic, rhythmic, metaphorical weight is evenly distributed, and leads effortlessly to the climax.

    “Through him, [and] with him, [and] in him,
    in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
    to you, O God, almighty Father,
    is . . . ”
    cannot work because “is” functions here as a mere, weightless connective.

  17. I am more for the one I am familiar with growing up. ” through Him, with Him, and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. All glory and Honor is Yours Almighty Father Forever and Ever”. Then the Great Amen. Also some of the words in the Nicene Creed have changed even though they still have the same meaning. Example, ” of all things seen and unseen” changed to ” visible and invisible”. Etc

  18. Just realised how powerful these words are :
    We are given the power to be other Christs in our present changing world.
    If every Christian really did this it would would be a peaceful world.

  19. I prefer to sing the WHOLE doxology with the rest of the congregation. We ARE, actually, the Church. The celebrant is only the presider. Have we forgotten that we are BOTH prophet & priest, according to the Bible?

  20. Intellectually, Latin is for Rome !!!
    Most people DO NOT speak LATIN !!!
    WE want to hear it in our own language.
    Personally, Latin is ok if your a priest/nun or in Rome.
    Who belongs to the church???
    Many cultures ARE the church.
    Who do you want to convert ??
    Even St Paul said that ‘gentiles’ DONOT have to be circumcised as the Jews were.
    It’s the same with language.

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