Grail Psalter is out

Word is out today that the USCCB has given the nod to proceed with the publication of The Revised Grail Psalms.
When text came back from Rome with over 300 changes, a number of inconsistencies and a few newly-introduced errors were discovered. Cardinal George brought this information to the attention of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which they acknowledged. For whatever reason, they have not gotten back to Cardinal George on this matter, and the decision has been made to proceed with the document as Rome sent it out.
It is hoped that a print form and electronic form of The Revised Grail Psalms will be available within a month. Printed copies can be ordered at
The Printery House of Conception Abbey, and GIA Publications . The electronic form of The Revised Grail Psalms can be purchased at GIA Publications .

May The Revised Grail Psalms will be a source of inspiration, prayer, and reflection that will lift many hearts and minds to God in petition, praise, and gratitude.


  1. Hmm… download for pay, huh? How very quaint! Maybe I can peruse them while I’m at the “malt shop” before I go to the Saturday matinee! More likely I’ll be busy familiarizing myself with the English language chant propers on my smart-phone… after all, they’re available for free.

      1. Who you buy electricity from is regulated, but you don’t have to buy it.
        The brand of gas you buy is up to you, and you don’t have to use it.
        The metaphor does not hold up.

      2. I think the metaphor is closer than you think. Publishers have told composers for decades it’s better to adapt the texts, and avoid sharing copyrights with the USCCB or whomever.

        Alternate translations and even paraphrases are still acceptable for liturgy.

  2. Thanks, Nick!
    While I know that perfection can never be achieved in this mortal life, it is very frustrating (as one who has coped with the many discrepancies in the current Lectionary psalms) to realize that we will be working with something known to be flawed even before publication!
    While I doubt that many souls will be lost to Satan over whatever errors are in the Revised Grail, I am sure that the Lord’s name will oft be taken in vain by those composing and editing musical settings.

  3. Well at least it will match the new Missal! Mistakes and inconsistencies thanks to CDW who were too busy messing up the next project to go back and fix up the last one. Unreal.

  4. Why are we so complacent to just accept what Rome has given us. If George sent them letters saying what was wrong with their corrections, we should wait till they acknowlendge them and it is done correctly. Or are we, the American church, too afraid of the boys in Rome? How sad.

  5. One rather hopes that composers will tacitly iron out the inconsistencies anyway.

    I find Rome’s behaviour here high-handed, obnoxious and discourteous. Why can’t they enter into civilized, adult conversation, and recognise that the ability to say, ‘sorry, we got this wrong’ is a sign of human maturity rather than loss of face or compromise of theological principle? And what does this episode augur for the Missal?

    1. They don’t appear to understand Blessed John Henry Newman’s understanding of the Church. He argues that the laity were an indispensable part of the Church; where were they in this debacle? As he said roughly speaking the Church would look stupid without them (laity).
      Is it possible that they beatified him in order to weaken his message? I hope I’m being over cynical.

  6. The words of the “official” text may not be altered for publication as a Responsorial Psalm, even when they are incorrect.

    1. that is the style of thinking appropriate for totalitarian regimes and ignorant fundamentalists, not for the children of God. Can’t we get out of this silly supposition that unquestioning following of rules is a virtue?

      1. Please, can we? Blind obedience is no longer permitted in the military if subordinates think that a crime is being committed. It should be recognised that an informed conscience has as big a part to play also.

      2. Philip is right. Would we use a heretical text just because it was “incorrect”?

        My hope is that someone will leak the text of the Grail Psalter submitted to Rome for recognitio, the text that Abbot Gregory laboured over for so long, and over which he made compromise after compromise at the insistence of the ignorant CDWDS. If everyone took a decision to use the originally-negotiated text instead of the messed-around-with version, I suspect that Rome would not do anything about it.

        Who, incidentally, took the decision to go ahead with the flawed Roman revision? That seems to me like capitulation. If Rome never bothered to get back to Cardinal George, and if they can never admit that they’re wrong, surely we can prove that they are both impolite and incompetent by using the text that they had previously agreed after months of protracted negotiations.

        Leak it, someone!

  7. Here it seems that the fault lies with Cardinal George, who is so eager to publish that he won’t wait for the acceptance of corrections that have been acknowledged to be necessary.

    What’s the reason for that? Does he somehow know that the corrections will not be accepted, no matter how long he waits? Does this publication have to fit with the Missal deadline? Does he himself think it’s trivial stuff? (I haven’t seen the nature of the “errors” here.)

    I sometimes get the idea that Cardinal George doesn’t think very deeply about what he is doing. Remember when he said he forgot that he handed the antiphons over to be translated without being seen by the bishops? To forget such a decision seems a bit careless.

  8. Rita,

    It may, possibly, be that the first sentence in your last paragraph should have a full stop after the verb ‘think’. But I’m no doubt being uncharitable in even thinking that thought, let alone publishing it. Still, there are times…

    As for buying this mess, Not. Going. To. Happen. Nor shall my wallet open for the special collection the parish will need to purchase updates for the new GIA books we just bought 2 years ago to replace the worn out volumes that preceded them. Let’s not even talk about the set of Spanish-language books we got last year, that will soon need replacement also.

    No. ‘They’ can force, or try to force, parishes to use the new material. ‘They’ cannot force me to pay for it. And I won’t.

  9. “Cardinal George doesn’t think very deeply about what he is doing. Remember when he said he forgot that he handed the antiphons over to be translated without being seen by the bishops? To forget such a decision seems a bit careless.”

    That was my impression too.

  10. The copyright status of the Grail is a serious issue, one that apparently no one even considered while it was being pushed as the official version and the secret contracts between Conception and the GIA were being drawn up. It’s as if no one at the USCCB got the word that we live in a digital age or that the Church is about evangelization, not profiteering. GIA has been impossibly belligerent on this whole issue, stating again and again that everyone has to cough up whatever they demand in order to sing the Psalms of David. I seriously doubt that this whole approach can work. In the UK, pirate editions are everywhere and alternate Psalm translations are common. We’ll see what the future holds, but I suspect that the attempt to impose this Grail will blow up the whole apparatus and translation laissez-faire will be the de facto norm.

  11. Something about putting a copyright on Scripture just seems fundamentally wrong in the first place. No reasonable person should object to paying a fair price for the books in question – there is a cost to produce them and the producers need to eat – but this has not been handled at all well.

    Then comes the inevitable situation of having to choose between buying the mandatory new books or using the money to meet some other, in-your-face-urgent human need. Opportunity cost stinks, as we all know.

  12. The bishops think they are protecting the text by copyrighting it, but, as demonstrated by the comments above, as well as the last 30 years, they are doing everything to make it more difficult for the new psalter to go into wide use. Between the uncorrected errors and the costs to parishes with already-stretched budgets, the bishops have created endless excuses for folks not to start using the new translation. Very sad, because with a few tactful moves, the revised grail psalter could be a beautiful upgrade, and be accepted and prayed universally by the Church.

  13. I wonder, will GIA waive the fees for those who electronically publish responsorial psalm settings for free (such as Chabanel), as long as the texts are properly attributed (such as ICEL has for Missal Ordinary texts)?

  14. What GIA has said is that it will wave fees for digital distribution provided that there is one link per Psalm. This is fine for some platforms that have been developed this way but if one wants to provide a full collection in a single PDF, one is not allowed to do so, so this could be a serious inconvenience for the user. It’s also ridiculously arbitrary and technologically restrictive, not to mention patronizing and contrary to the evangelistic spirit.

  15. “There will always be a royalty required whenever commerce is involved. … Royalties for liturgical and biblical texts have always been a part of the publishing of these texts.”

    The only problem with this statement is that it neglects 19 centuries of history, and vast swaths of the existing marketplace for just about everything. If I buy a suit produced by Calvin Klein, Calvin gets no royalty and there is no copyright involved. The company gets what is called revenue. These statements by Mr. Batastini reveal an incredible lack of knowledge of the commercial marketplace and the history of liturgical publishing – and I’m putting this in the nicest way possible.

  16. I thought there were no royalties to quote from the New Revised Standard Version in other published works as there are for the NAB; the royalties that the owners of the NRSV make are by selling the Bibles themselves (and downloads, etc.). I don’t know why R. Batastini says there is a royalty paid on texts from the NRSV for use of extracted material. I write for a variety of Catholic publishers who have told me to use the NRSV Catholic edition precisely because use of those texts is free. Unlike the Catholic-owned translation.

  17. Rita, there ARE royalties for use of the NRSV under the following conditions:

    Up to 500 verses of the RSV or NRSV may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic or audio) without charge and without obtaining written permission provided that all of the following conditions are met:

    The total number of verses quoted is:

    less than an entire book of the Bible, and
    less than 500 verses (total), and
    less than 50 percent of the total number of words in the work in which they are quoted
    No changes are made to the text. All quotations must be accurate to the text, including all appropriate punctuation, capitalization, etc. unless specifically approved to the contrary prior to publication.
    The applicable notice of copyright must appear in an appropriate location in the publication in which they are quoted. See “Copyright Notice and Acknowledgement” for the appropriate copyright notice for each version of the RSV/NRSV.

    See “”

  18. In other words, use more than 500 verses, or infringe the conditions laid down, and you’re into royalties. NRSV is generous in its provisions, in my opinion. I do not expect GIA and the Grail to be as generous, for the reasons that have already been done to death in previous threads.

    Jeffrey and Co are obviously unaware that royalties are still payable on the King James version of scripture, quite apart from royalties that are payable to the Holy See on translations of editiones typicae.

    Did someone mention lack of knowledge of liturgical history?

    1. Interesting. Is this on a theory that copyright continues until 50 years after the author’s death, and since God is the author of scripture….

  19. In the United States (maybe things are different in the Commonwealth?) no royalties are paid on the “King James” or Authorized Version. Now the New King James Version is a different matter-in many ways!

    It is difficult to compare treatment of intellectual property today with the situation in the past. Only a few decades ago, buying a physical copy was pretty much the only way to acquire a text (or music), and difficulties or costs of duplicating “enforced” this in a de facto way. Modern cheap photocopying began the challenge to this, and you all know where we are now! International copyright is a complex matter that was not dealt with until the late 19th century, and is not anywhere near uniform even today.

    To be fair to GIA, they are acting as literary agent for The Grail (England), and so far as I know, are not handling this any differently than they would hymn texts by Delores Dufner or music by David Haas.

  20. Copyright law began with a dispute over copying scripture. St Columba visited an Irish monastery, and copied part of St Matthew’s gospel. When he tried to leave, the abbot objected, saying that the copy belonged to him, despite the time and effort the Saint put into it. They went to a judge, tribal chieftain or other arbiter, who decided “For every cow her calf, for every book its copy.”

    St Columba was not pleased, so his kin and companions started fighting for the monastery. By the time the conflict many had died over ownership of the copy. St Columba was so disturbed, he left Ireland in sorrow and vowed never to set foot on Irish soil as part of his penance. He founded a monastery at Iona off the coast of Scotland, and evangelized that country from there.

    Modern copyright law grew out of that conflict, so religious and probably liturgical use of texts goes back to the beginnings of copyright law some 1500 years ago.

  21. Jim, I’ve heard this canard about St. Columba more times than I can count. That was in fact a property rights dispute, not a copyright dispute. I wish you would stop spreading this misinformation because it gives the impression that we are talking about some ancient moral dilemma rather than a stupid product of modern legislation.

    As for the KJV, it is in “perpetual” copyright only in the UK, owing to ancient religious wars and CENSORSHIP struggles. Paul, do you really want to rally around those institutions? By the way, it goes without saying that this supposed copyright is unenforced.

    I wish musicians would bother with things like economics and legal studies sometimes.

    1. Although some of the details in Jim’s account are wrong, the fact remains that this was a dispute over copyright — moral property, if you must. The canard is yours, alas.

    2. Thank you Paul. I have been split over how to respond on this, since this story of St Columba probably would not be deemed historically accurate by most historians, but it is the first case of copyright law in the British/American case law system. So Jeffrey may be correct, but not on the point that I was making, that copying religious texts has long been an issue in copyright law. It may not be 1500 years back to St Columba’s day, but it is at least 1000 years since this story first circulated, and may be more.

      There is another tale of St Columba defending the bards of Ireland that addresses this difference between the stories that are remembered and the events (or kings!) that shaped them. The fiscally conservative kings may die, but there name and influence will live on only by the stories that get told by the bards. Or the lawyers who cite the events for their own purposes.

  22. When the Grail Psalter becomes the only approved version, one will have two choices: disobey that mandate, which is corrosive of spiritual discipline (rebellion in small things leads to rebellion in large things), or accept that the Church is a wholly-owned marketing subsidiary of GIA, and pay the Church’s money to them. Neither is acceptable. Copyrighting the liturgy is something that the Church of $cientology does, not the Church of God.

  23. There are more than two choices, Jeffrey; you are free to set to music any translation of the psalms approved by the USCCB or your diocesan bishop. The one thing you may not do is recite the Revised Grail Psalter as the responsorial psalm.

    1. In today’s world with access to multiple texts of the psalms, and a vast array of scholarship, it makes no sense to be stuck with one psalm translation. Rather composers should blend existing texts and music, adapting each to fit the other, as appropriate to the understanding of the psalm in the liturgical situation.

      In the Propers, the Latin sometimes pastes parts of verses, even in a different order, and with tenses and cases modified as necessary to fit everything together. Perhaps some texts are from variant manuscripts of the Vulgate or even Old Latin. In other words I am suggesting musicians function as the tradition did before we replaced it with modern bureaucracies.

      If local bishops have authority to approve a psalm translation, then musicians should do what I was taught years ago as a Jesuit novice “presume permission.” Why bother overworked bishops for a piece of music that might not work out in the long run in parish practice.

      Since I learned of the site for the Propers, I have included them in my daily prayer. I was surprised at the diversity of psalms and biblical texts used. While I do not advocate returning the existing Propers to the Introit, Offertory and Communion, we should return psalms and canticles to those places as much as possible.

      In the worse case, just paraphrase the psalm and skip the whole translation problem (which is caused by the fact that we live in a modern culture, that is bureaucratic and fundamentalist). I would prefer a lot of scripture paraphrases instead of hymns or approved translations with poor music.

  24. Point 1. The so-called “errors” in the text. These some 300 items are not at all comparable to the reported 10,000 items in the 2010 translation of the Roman Missal. I’ve heard that there are actually about 30 or so words which became points of contention arising from the CDWDS’s recognitio letter, with most of these words repeated several times in the full text. For the translators the most difficult of these changes to accept involved the CDWDS’s backpedaling on a few items which had been worked out with the translators prior to the text being submitted to the USCCB for approval as a liturgical text, especially the translation of “hesed” and “sheol.” The many “Zion’s” are to be spelled “Sion.” Things of that sort. So this really is not a matter of the CDWDS imposing “errors,” but simply having a different take on how to translate certain Hebrew words. The published text will be consistent (unlike the present USA Lectionary for Mass, which is an editor’s nightmare) even if certain words are not translated as the translators had wanted.

    Point 2. This translation of the psalms has been approved for liturgical use, but its use does not become mandatory until it is actually included in a liturgical book.

    Point 3. The appointed verses for the various responsorial psalm will be posted on the GIA website for free download. This is, in fact, what most composers will be wanting for their work.

    Point 4. The copyright for this psalm translation is held jointly by the Ladies of the Grail and Conception Abbey. GIA was contracted by the copyright-owners to be their agent so that the few ladies at The Grail and the monks at Conception would be free of that responsibility. Royalties are and have been paid on all liturgical texts for several decades, even preceding Vatican II. During the time I was at the then-BCL (1981-1994), the Apostolic See began requiring a royalty on all vernacular liturgical books which were translations of a Latin typical edition.

    1. Thanks for this, Ron.

      As a point of info, when I was working for a British liturgical publisher in the late 1960s (thru mid 80s), they were already paying royalties to the Holy See on translated liturgical books. I do not know when the practice first started, but presumably it was when vernacular translations first began in the post-conciliar era. It was certainly in place by the time of the 1969 Ordo Missae and the 1970 Ordo Lectionum Missae.

      BTW, the Canadian Lectionary is even more of an editor’s nightmare!

  25. Thank you Fr. Ron (and also to Paul Inwood and Paul Ford) for injecting some clarity and sanity to this ongoing copyright feud. There is nothing even approaching bad faith in how GIA operates with all of this… and that is fact. If people want to continue in the senseless conversation of untruths and fiction.. so be it. But facts are facts. As Fr. Ron has said, GIA is only the agent in this situation, and comments about the church being the “wholly-owned marketing subsidiary of GIA” are just irresponsible.

    1. Please give me one good reason why the Church should not compensate the translators appropriately for their work and place the text in creative commons. And I don’t want to hear the “this is how it’s always been” argument… I want to know what’s best for the faithful moving forward. This reeks of the status quo trying to protect something that simply will not fly in 2010. The Revised Grail Psalter will simply not be used on a wide scale with the current plan, and that can’t be the Church’s intent.

  26. Actually, The Revised Grail Psalter WILL be used on a wide scale in the United States as in 1991, the NCCB said that the NAB Psalter is unsuitable to be used as our Responsorial Psalms at Mass, and the Lectionary readings will also conform to the guidelines of Liturgiam Authenticam. Both of these and revised Roman Missal will start being used on November 27,2011.

    1. I think you’re jumping too many fences here. There are currently no plans to change to the new Grail Psalter in November 2011.

  27. “Alternate translations and paraphrases are still acceptable for Liturgy”..?? Since when?? For Catholic Mass?

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