Missal production update

Say a prayer for anyone working on missal production. It’s a monster of  a job, and there are zillions of details to attend to. I don’t envy any of the good and competent people at ICEL or BCDW – they’ve had so many versions of the final text thrown at them, and they’re doing their best to cope under pressing deadlines.

Last Friday the BCDW sent out errata to missal publishers – nine pages listing all the mistakes to correct in the texts previously sent. Also included were dozens and dozens of music files to replace the ones sent out earlier. I think it is pretty much the way things like this go – as the publishers work on the texts, and as the officials proofread them again, they find mistakes. Almost all the corrections, I see, are minor punctuation details – add a comma here, delete one there, and so forth. A few of the corrections involve texts – sometimes in the prayers, sometimes in the rubrics.

Pray Tell won’t leak the BCDW mailing or post it at WikiSpooks. But we’ll let you know when someone else does. Maybe the person who sent it to us – we’ll never divulge the name, but I will say it is someone not connected to a missal publisher – will post it, or else the person who leaked it to them will, or maybe someone else who got the leak from our source will. That’s the way this thing seems to work.

I see some unfortunate mistakes in the ‘corrected’ music files for the U.S. edition.The familiar Robert Snow setting is with three flats, starting on G (I suppose purists would want four flats – but given the vagaries of notation history, it could also be considered “authentic” not to worry about a pitch which doesn’t appear in the chant). But the celebrant’s embolism (“Deliver us…”) is a half step lower with one sharp. No, they aren’t assuming the congregation will drop in pitch. The congregation’s final bit, “For the kingdom…”, is back up at three flats.

All the other missal chants prepared by ICEL are set with no sharps or flats, and ICEL has told us that the pitch is relative, not absolute. Sing it at any pitch that works, just like four-line Gregorian chant notation. I think the Lord’s Prayer, including the embolism and doxology, should be set the same way. Start on B.

The so-called  “Christmas proclamation” from the Roman martyrology will be included in the U.S. edition, as we read recently in the BCDW newsletter. Here the pitch is consistent with everything else – no sharps and flats. But if you go up a fourth at the end, requiring a drop from F to B-flat, then you should really include a B-natural in the next phrase when it comes back down. Also – and this is just one opinion, fwiw – it’s unfortunate that the drop from reciting tone C down to F at the cadences is notated with just one C before the F, without respect to the accentuation. It would be more helpful for the singer to include the C only if it falls on an accent, as is done in all the prefaces.

What is Opus Dei doing with all this, do you suppose? Their publishing house, Midwest Theological Forum in Chicago, recently announced that they were carrying Vox Clara’s study edition of the missal with proper texts for the Sundays of the year. Yes, it’s very bizarre that Vox Clara, an ad hoc committee, is now publishing missal texts. It’s even more bizarre that other publishing houses were told they can’t publish study editions until after the missal appears. I guess Opus Dei has the right connections and certain policies don’t apply to them.

MTF says that orders will be filled starting February 1st. Meaning they’ve already printed it up. Meaning the last round of errata won’t be included. Maybe they’ve solved it some other way – nothing would surprise me any more in this saga.


starting on G (I suppose purists would want four flats – but given the vagaries of notation history, it could also be considered “authentic” not to worry about a pitch which doesn’t appear in the chant).


  1. It sounds like, no matter what, the Roman Missal is going to be full of mistakes. This is incredibly sad because it will make it even harder for the Presiders to do a good job with it.

  2. I hope the missal will have a nice Canon page (i.e. the illuminated T of the te igitur). The Latin typical edition at least has some artistic embellishment in it. Why not have illustrations before all the eucharistic prayers?

    The image does not have to be a gilt-laden illuminated gem. Even a simple image would be a nice meditation for a priest as he says Mass. For those priests that say Mass ad orientem a nice illustration before the Canon also emphasizes the importance of the liturgical action.

    I’m tired of altar missals that have the artistic flair of auto shop repair manuals.

    1. The Latin edition I saw that came from Rome has artwork that looks like it was done by a kindergarten class. No offense to kindergarten kids.

    2. I know that WLP has started promoting there edition of the missal with references to the high quality of art that will be used in it. I wonder the the costs of the various editions will be.

      1. Hi, Kevin et al.:

        Yes, I am also concerned about the print quality of the books and how many choices there will be. I certainly hope they are bound much better than the current Lectionaries (the multicolored four-volume set). They are little better than paperbacks . . . ours are falling apart.

        Cost will also be an issue. I wonder if in addition to the printing they will try to capture some of the expense of creating/correcting/revising/recorrecting the text?

        Hope it’s nice and warm in Texas!

        Allen (fellow classmate, Borromeo High School Seminary, CLE, 1974)

  3. Does anyone know if a press will publish a Latin-English edition of the new Missal? I remember reading awhile back that Baronius Press was considering such a project. At the very least every altar missal should include the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin and in English either side by side or in separate sections.

    Any complete bilingual edition will likely be in two volumes. Still, it’s a worthwhile project. I do hope that a press takes up the challenge. There are many priests that would gladly purchase this missal.

  4. Quality of work:

    Does anyone know or remember how many mistakes were in the 1973 sacramentary when it was published? I suspect very few, and were any of these egregious?

    It’s ironic that one of the justifications for a new version was that the 1973 version was done in a hurry.

    1. Well, as someone who proofed very long SEC registration statements by slugging line by line back in the 1980s, before the era of dominance of electronic word-processed files, I can say that proofing was more exacting in the pre-MS Word era (no, there is no Prologue to the Gospel of Gates referenced here…). You’d have a group of people in the room, one reading aloud while the others checked by eye; and mistakes were rarely caught by the same pair of eyes. Lines would occasionally be dropped. And the older folks pronounced how much better and faster this was than in the days of lead type, when line drops were much more common. Thus, the available technology pre-MS Word encouraged compensating cultures of accuracy.

      Of course, this would now be viewed as profligate.

      But the shift in technology has produced a negative shift in value about accuracy. For all the vaunted accuracy of translation, if you can’t get accuracy in proofreading, it’s got to be discounted accordingly.

  5. Does anyone know why there’s an Amen tacked onto the end of the “For the kingdom…” chant? There’s no Amen in the liturgical text itself.

    1. My guess is for the same reason there were two different translations of one of the prayers after communion in the first week of Advent until someone in Rome heard the blogs were making fun of that and picked one translation. Fr Ruff said they picked the worst of the two. Incompetence on the part of whoever’s doing the cutting and pasting. But picky, picky, picky! At least we have a new Missal right?

      1. +LOL+

        “WORST of the TWO”???!!! What a howler!!! With English skills like that, you’ve got a real future cut out for you at ICEL, Jeremy!!!

      2. I think you mean VOX CLARA, Mark. ICEL got it right, remember? It was VOX CLARA that gave us the howlers!

      3. RP Burke: “Change is not necessarily improvement.”

        A sentiment that ++Lefebvre would have agreed with.

  6. I notice that in the doxology for the collects, the ending goes: through our Lord Jesus Christ….who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ONE God, for ever and ever.
    Where does this ONE come from? Old ICEL had it, because the ending went: who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit… thus leaving out the idea of oneness. Why has it been added to the new ICEL translation, where it is entirely redundant?
    I hope this is one of the acknolwedged errata.

    1. No, this isn’t considered an errata, that was their final decision. They obviously combined two different drafts with two different approaches, and it obviously doesn’t quite make sense. Welcome to Vox Clara as the church’s translation agency.

  7. As to how/why Opus Dei (MTF) can make this assertion, Jerry Galipeau of World Library Publications made a similar, if better explained, announcement, over at Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, “The bishops set today, February 1, as the first day that publishers may begin to share information about the publication and to begin receiving orders. The Missal cannot be delivered until October 1, a date also set by the bishops. And it will take that long to actually produce the editions, since we have only had the text files for a few weeks.”

  8. Can anyone tell us how many publishers will be putting out editions of the RM3? What will be the differences amongst them since, obviously, they all have to use the same exact text? And is it true that they also all have to have the same pagination? Thank you. GTC

  9. Fr. Chinchar,

    Here’s what I know (and take this with the knowledge that I officially work for one of the known publishers, but I will do my best to be unbiased and not give you ad copy here!):

    – I have heard that there are 7 total publishers. Right now, WLP, LTP, LitPress, and USCCB, I believe, have some sort of information about their editions announced publicly in some way. I am not sure about the rumored other 3.

    – It seems the biggest differences will be cover artwork/treatment; materials used for the binding/ribbons/tabs; type size/fonts used; interior artwork; size; and price.

    – As a music publisher, WLP also has taken on the task of re-engraving the chants, still using modern notation but avoiding unnecessary or potentially bothersome word and line breaks, and keeping the font legible and clean. We think these engravings will help celebrants more effectively and easily chant. The texts of the chants will be typeset in the same font we are using for text in the rest of the Missal. I think WLP is the only Missal publisher doing this, but I could be wrong, as not all info from other publishers has been made public yet.

    – I believe the Order of Mass section must be paginated exactly the same in every edition, but that there is some flexibility in other sections and in terms of interior art placement.

    Hope that helps. If not, I hope someone else chimes in with an even better answer for you!

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