Random thoughts on EP III

In most of the dioceses of England and Wales, we are now into our second month of using the new translation of the Order of Mass.

Most clergy seem to have given up on Eucharistic Prayer I as too difficult to proclaim. Complaints include rhythmical problems, lack of flow, and so on. I have not heard of anyone tackling Eucharistic Prayer IV either. Most priests seem to be using EPs II and III, and thus by a strange coincidence at all the Masses at which I have been present since the beginning of September, in a variety of churches, I have only heard EP III.

In the course of listening to the revised text, I have become increasingly uneasy about one or two phrases in this Eucharistic Prayer.


I want first of all to contrast these lines from the 1970 translation of the 1969 Ordo Missae with the same lines in the Missal of 2010:

From age to age you gather a people to yourself,
so that from east to west
a perfect offering may be made
to the glory of your name.

and you never cease to gather a people to yourself,
so that from the rising of the sun to its setting
a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.

There is no doubt that 2010 is a more accurate rendition of the Latin text:
et pópulum tibi congregáre non désinis, ut a solis ortu usque ad occásum oblátio munda offerátur nómini tuo.

However, the phrase that has been nagging at me is “from the rising of the sun to its setting”.

I am well aware that many clergy have already been using this for some years in the midst of the 1970 text, on the grounds that it is (a) more poetic, and (b) picks up the psalmic allusion [Psalm 50:1d, and more especially Ps 113:3 “From the rising of the sun to its setting, praised be the name of the Lord!”]. I certainly appreciate both of those reasons, but I am wondering if the translation is in fact a betrayal of the intentions of the composer of EP III (and it is good to remind ourselves that it is a new composition, originating in a newly-composed Prayer by Cipriano Vagaggini).

We know far more today than the psalmist did all those centuries ago. Then, life took place during the waking hours of daylight, literally from sunrise to sunset, and Ps 113 was an encouragement to be constantly praising God from the time that you awoke until the time you went to sleep. It reminds me of those cenobitic monks who used to pray the entire psalter in a single day, every day: non-stop praise of God. (It was easy for them to do: they were the “profession pray-ers” and had little else to do except pray!)

However, I feel quite sure that the original intent of the phrase in EP III was actually “from one end of the earth to the other”; and for me, “from east to west” is a much better way of suggesting that, especially in these days when we have 24 hours of time zones and an International Date Line where east and west actually meet. Yes, I know that some have “abused” the text by saying “from east to west and from north to south”, but they too have been attempting to convey the idea of “always and everywhere”.

I do not think that “from the rising of the sun to its setting” does that in today’s modern civilization. The phrase is “temporally limiting”, and could even in extremis imply that during the hours of darkness the sacrifice is not actually being offered.

The more I have listened to this phrase, the more I have become convinced that in fact it is not an accurate translation of the intent of the original.


My second point is not so much about the text of EP III since it also applies to EPs I and IV, less so to II, but about the memorial acclamations in the Prayers.

It was brought home to me today, listening to people “acclaiming”
Save us, Saviour of the world,
for by your Cross and Resurrection
you have set us free.

followed immediately by the priest saying
Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial
of the saving Passion of your Son,….

I was struck more than I have ever been before by the disjuncture between addressing Christ and then switching back to God as a whole and the Father in particular. And it is a real disjuncture, one that perhaps you only notice precisely at the moment of switching back. (It’s less obvious in EP II because the word “Lord” does not occur until several lines on.)

I think I have written previously on this forum about interviewing Gelineau on this topic, since he was the person responsible for the insertion of a memorial acclamation into the Eucharistic Prayer in the course of his time on the Consilium working group after the Council. I mentioned the problem of switching back and forth from Father to Son and back to Father, and asked whether it might not have been possible to have provided acclamations about Christ rather than addressed to Christ. For example,
We proclaim his Death, O Lord,
and profess his Resurrection
until he comes again.

where “Lord” would still be addressed to the Father.

Gelineau’s response was that certainly they could have done that without a problem. When asked why they didn’t, he said that the only reason was that they did not find that form in the tradition. Such acclamations were usually addressed to Christ. Pressed once again to say why he thought that was so, he said that the people always felt “closer” to Christ, and so addressed him. (I forbore to comment on the prayer that begins “Our Father…”) Today, when our relationship with God is more of an intimate one along the lines of an all-merciful “Abba”, Daddy, rather than a fearful relationship with an all-powerful God who is waiting to pounce on sinners, I think there is considerable justification for saying that we have moved on from the Middle Ages. Gelineau himself did mention, in this context, the fact that when you say Kyrie eleison (but not Christe eleison) you’re addressing whoever you like!

So my dilemma is about how to resolve this disjuncture.


My third point concerns this clause:

…and all your saints
on whose constant intercession we rely for help.

and with all the Saints,
on whose constant intercession in your presence
we rely for unfailing help.

Once again, 2010 is a more faithful translation of the Latin:
et ómnibus Sanctis, quorum intercessióne perpétuo apud te confídimus adiuvári.

but pays the price by introducing a possible ambiguity in the vernacular text as it is heard. The ambiguity concerns “in your presence”, apud te, with its resonances of the Book of Revelation and other apocalyptic literature where saints and angels minister unceasingly around the throne of God.

Because the lines “on whose constant intercession in your presence we rely for unfailing help” are a little longer than presiders have been used to, every presider that I have heard so far has introduced a gap, sometimes even a breath, between “intercession” and “in your presence”, thus:
on whose constant intercession
in your presence we rely for unfailing help.

What then happens is that the fleeting impression is given that it is we rather than the saints who are “in your presence” as we rely for unfailing help. Yes, this is not the fault of the text but the way in which it is delivered, but yes also, this could have been avoided by using a (to my mind equally faithful) translation along the lines of
and with all the Saints,
whose constant intercession in your presence
is a source of unfailing help for us.

This points up one of the major problems with the revised translation of the Missal as a whole. It has not been designed in any way for the listener but only for the reader, and more specifically for someone reading to her/himself silently. One recalls the Jerusalem Bible translation, which was never intended for public proclamation but only for private reading at the student’s desk. In the Missal, the problems are infinitely worse, of course. We have already uncovered many in the form of subordinate clauses whose antecedents are completely unclear, even on paper, let alone to the bewildered listener. I suspect that many subtler instances, such as the one just described, remain to reveal themselves over the course of time.


  1. Anent your first point, PI, isn’t the issue about EP III’s direct citation of Malachi 1:11: ab ortu enim solis usque ad occasum magnum est nomen meum in gentibus et in omni loco sacrificatur et offertur nomini meo oblatio munda quia magnum nomen meum in gentibus dicit Dominus exercituum?

  2. Paul, your proposed revision falls into a trap that often awaits those who amend existing translations, namely, that they retain too much of the version they want to change.
    Here, the villain is ‘constant intercession’, which we probably owe to translators with insufficient Latin, who thought that ‘perpetuo’ modified ‘intercessione’. In fact, ‘perpetuo’ is an adverb, slightly unusual in its form in that Latin adverbs more often end in -e than in -o.
    So the line literally means ‘by whose intercession in your presence we are confident that we are perpetually assisted’.
    I suspect it was simple conservatism that led the 2010 revisors to retain the ‘constant’ that the 1973 translation had bequeathed them. Whatever their motive, they have translated ‘perpetuo’ twice – once as ‘constant’ and once as ‘unfailing’. (This reminds me of the double translation of ‘unitate’ in the Conclusion to the Collects.) Remove ‘constant’, and you have an unambiguous text:
    ‘. . . on whose intercession in your presence
    we rely for unfailing help’.

    1. Thank you, Bruce, for that.

      Remove ‘constant’, and you have an unambiguous text:
      ‘. . . on whose intercession in your presence
      we rely for unfailing help’.

      I don’t think this will give an unambiguous text if presiders continue to put even the slightest of gaps before “in your presence”, though of course the removal of “constant” may assist them in not doing so. My impression is that it is the lengthening of the utterance caused by the reintroduction of “in your presence” that is causing them to do it.

    2. Interesting — but I doubt if the 1970 translators were so dopy as to perpetuo to be perpetua. “By whose intercession we trust to be perpetually aided by you” may just have seemed too clumsy to them, and the same meaning is conveyed after all by “on whose constant intercession we rely for help”.

  3. Thanks, Paul, for your informative article.

    I found it interesting yesterday during a concelebrated parish mass here than none of the three priests got through their respective parts of EPII (ICEL1974) without various excursions from the text.

    I predict beginning in Advent here in the U.S. the presiders who will be proclaiming the prayers without on-the-fly corrections/amendments/decorations/colloquialisms/folksiness will be very, very few.

    There will be enough confusion that I think I can carry off my plan to use ICEL1998 for the EP. It’s close enough and a much better product. I don’t think anyone will notice much of a difference.

    1. Warning! EP III in the 1998 translation has the phrase “so that from the rising of the sun to its setting.”

      And people might notice a difference if they’re following along in a worship aid (that has the 2011 translation in it) or if they’d been at all catechized on the content of the 2011 EPs.

    2. The last paragraph of this post has been eating away at me since yesterday… and I hope I can respectfully respond to the troubling content without in any way impugning the character or motivations of the author. That being said…

      Many here have argued that what was missing in the translation process was a lack of transparency. What of this proposal? Has the assembly been told: “I do not like the new translation and therefore will be using a eucharistic prayer that is not approved by the Church”? It seems only fair to do so – and to explain that this action would separate the community from the wider Church at least at some level. How about telling the bishop, in whose stead all ministry in a diocese takes place? After all, he is the one ultmately charged with the care of those in his diocese – and he is the one the priest represents in the parish. Or is this a matter of it’s OK to do what I want as long as I can fly under the radar?

      The rector of the cathedral in Phoenix was rightly criticized for refusing to discuss the matter of girl altar servers with his parish council because he felt they did not have the requisite background. Is that not similar to saying that the laity just won’t “notice much of a difference” and/or not care?

      No matter the motive (and I can only assume that Fr. Blue thinks that what he is doing is best for his people), there appears to be an intent here to deceive (no one will notice) and to do one’s own thing without accountability (I don’t have to use the prayers of the Church, I can choose others). I cannot see how this is a good development. In fact, on the outside, it bears all the marks of the kind of clericalism that has been rightly criticized on this blog (just coming from the “left” than from the “right”, if it is fair to even use those labels).

    3. Fr. Blue, Beware of the raddy trad liturgy police and other pharisees ready to denounce you to the CDW.

  4. I would not dispute that, PF; but Malachi, like the psalmist, had no knowledge of time zones or even that the earth was round, and certainly no concept of the vast reaches of the planet in both eastward and westward directions from the Middle East.

    The point I am trying to make is that imagery dating from a time when the world view was more primitive than the one we have now, and when scientific knowledge was in its infancy, may be misleading in terms of the actual meaning it conveys to us today.

    I contend that the simple phrase “from east to west” conveys a sense of that broad sweep right round the planet in both directions in a way that the “localized” 8 to 18 hours from sunrise to sunset does not. And of course it is also rhythmically considerably easier than “from the rising of the sun to its setting”, which by contrast gives the impression of a larger number of syllables jammed into a small space.

    That “continuous broad sweep” that I am looking for is captured much more satisfactorily by Gregory Dix’s great peroration, or by John Ellerton in the hymn “The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended”, with its verses 2-4:

    We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
    While earth rolls onward into light,
    Through all the world her watch is keeping,
    And rests not now by day or night.

    As o’er each continent and island
    The dawn leads on another day,
    The voice of prayer is never silent,
    Nor dies the strain of praise away.

    The sun that bids us rest is waking
    Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
    And hour by hour fresh lips are making
    Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

    There, sunrise and sunset are subsumed into a never-ending continuum of sacrifice and praise.

    1. For many years I have been praying “from the rising to the setting of the sun”, a phrase that flows far better than the one proposed.

  5. I think the issue here is this: In the Malachi verse, “the rising of the sun and its setting” are meant (if I interpret the verse correctly) to be places – the far eastern and far western edges of the world. In a modern context, they sound like times, and since Masses are rarely offered in the afternoon or evening hours (except on Saturdays), the line seems potentially a bit off.

    In Latin, the two meanings of oriens/occidens can work together – the line can be taken to indicate that as the Sun sets in one place, it rises somewhere else, and a never-ending chain of Masses takes place from time zone to time zone. In English, unfortunately, we have to choose.

  6. @Paul
    This points up one of the major problems with the revised translation of the Missal as a whole. It has not been designed in any way for the listener but only for the reader.

    Yes, Paul you’ve zeroed in on the foundational flaw in the translation. Aural comprehension, very unfortunately, is the first casualty of this Latinish mess.

    Surely “from the rising of the sun to its setting” is far more likely be interpreted nowadays as “from dawn to dusk” and “from sunrise to sunset”.

  7. I personally like “from the rising of the sun to its setting”, which I hear as having a rich meaning, simultaneously geographic and temporal, and which sounds to me like a poetic way of saying “always and everywhere”. I interpret it as broad and expansive, so it is interesting to me that other people, as they hear it, interpret it as restrictive.

    The other two points ring true to me.

    But this article gets to the heart of the matter: what is communicated is not so much what is said as what is heard. When people hear the words, what do they understand that the prayer is saying? That’s what matters.

    Thank you!

  8. Paul,

    About your first point, I think the fact that as an allusion to Sacred Scripture, namely Malachi 1:11, as interpreted by the Fathers of the Church, this rendering is more than justified. To render it otherwise, it seems to me, that one is obliged to explain why a clearer allusion, and one of the most common renderings of this sacred text, should be cast aside for a less clear allusion to its common rendering and a more colloquial translation.

    On your second point, I have to say I totally agree. The Memorial Acclimation does create a disjuncture within the context of the whole Eucharistic Prayer. But, I would propose that the solution should be to excise it out of the Roman Rite all together. Maybe this was the original reason why this practice fell into disuse.

    I think your third point is, as you said, a matter of delivery. All I would say to priests like me is, “Practice makes perfect.”

  9. #1 The more I have listened to this phrase, the more I have become convinced that in fact it is not an accurate translation of the intent of the original.

    You mentioned the intent of the author of EP III, so I’m curious why C.V. (and whoever else had a hand in EP III) chose that particular Latin phrase if they didn’t mean what it meant in its scriptural context.

    I don’t have difficulty grokking “from the rising of the sun to its setting”; I know it means more than “from ~7am to ~7pm”. I know that the sun is always rising somewhere in the world (and setting somewhere else).

    I’ve heard one argument against “from east to west” as being that the geographically-small might simply not thing big enough.

    1. Have cudgelled my brains and cannot think what “grokking” is a typo for. And your last clause is pretty incomprehensible too!

    2. Sorry about the last paragraph. I’ve been distracted this afternoon with (American) football, and wasn’t paying close attention to my typing.

      “Grok” was a neologism (as far as I know) of Robert Heinlein in “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Jacques has a suitable definition.

      In my last sentence, “thing” should have been “think”. What I meant to express in that last sentence was:

      The expression “from east to west” might not evoke as vast an image in the minds of those who do not have a well-developed sense of geography. The specific example I read was that “from east to west” might be interpreted by an American as simply “from NYC to LA”.

  10. #2 Pressed once again to say why he thought that was so, he said that the people always felt “closer” to Christ, and so addressed him.

    Does that hold true in the various Eastern traditions? I’ve read many Eastern anaphoras that have several acclamations to Christ (addressing Him in the second person), and even a few (exceptions to be sure) that have whole sections of the anaphora addressed to the Son, even the anamnesis/offering! Did they do this because they felt their relationship to the Son was “closer” than to the Father?

    If there is practically no evidence in the tradition (East and West) of addressing Christ in the third person during an acclamation after the institution narrative (or the epiclesis following it), I wouldn’t be very convinced by the argument that “we don’t feel closer to the Son than to the Father” to justify the innovation of an acclamation about Christ in the third person.

    #3 It seems straightforward to me that “in your presence” is a phrase describing the saints’ intercession, and should be spoken accordingly. The way the Missal is printed seems to make this clear, if you pay attention to the “line-sense”:

    on whose constant intercession in your presence
    we rely for unfailing help.

    1. Yes, it’s part of the Eastern tradition.

      It’s not about not feeling closer to the Son than to the Father. It’s about confusion of address. In the space of two lines, “Lord” can be referring to two different persons of the Trinity.

      Yes, of course the sense-lines make it clear, and you and I would speak it so that it made sense. But the problem, as I stated, is that priests do not seem to be following those sense-lines, causing momentary ambiguities in the ear of the listener.

      1. It’s about confusion of address. In the space of two lines, “Lord” can be referring to two different persons of the Trinity.

        Ah. In the example you gave, you used the one acclamation of the three which doesn’t address Christ as “Lord” but rather as “Savior”, so I didn’t notice the difficulty.

      2. Paul – thanks for inserting the history of the actual composers of these EPs and the acclamations. It helps to get a balanced view and not some sort of “monday morning quarterbacking” (excuse the Texas example) that posits all sorts of things about the acclamations. Some questions:

        – you started to explain Gelineau’s lack of response about the history of acclamations and his reading that the history indicated addressing “Christ”. So, it created something of a disconnect
        – my questions start with the fact that I support even more acclamations in the EPs (or repeating them more than once) as the children’s EPs do now. Can’t acclamations be just that – acclaim our faith in response to the EP? Thus, what is so incorrect about Christ has died, Christ has risen, etc.? Rether than making it a prayer directed to Lord, God, Father, Christ, etc.
        – can you elucidate on this and what you would suggest?

      3. Hi, Bill

        Yes, so do I — support more acclamations in the EP, rather than less. EP II for Masses with Children is but a model of what we need to do to engage the assembly in the Prayer, and the Coptic Catholic experience shows us that this is indeed the way to go.

        I vividly remember a celebration at the LA Liturgy Congress (anyone remember that?) when Cardinal Mahony could not preside at the closing Mass and Bishop Stephen Blaire took his place.

        The planners had decided to insert extra acclamations into the EP, and I produced new call-response ones based on Marty Haugen’s Mass of Creation. In the event they worked very well.

        At the end of the Mass, just before the final blessing, Blaire said how much he had enjoyed the celebration, adding “When the Eucharistic Prayer started I was rather worried. I though that these extra acclamations would interrupt my prayer.” [Get the language? “My prayer”] Then he continued “But as we went on, I suddenly realized: ‘We’re all in this together!’ And wasn’t it wonderful?!”

        And I thought “Hallelujah!” Here’s a bishop who would never have thought of doing this by himself, but who had learned from experiencing it what it was for and why it had happened.

      4. Thanks, Paul. My thoughts exactly and my experience. In the 1980’s our music director composed a mass that included multiple responses based on the same music as the Holy, Holy; Memorial Acclamations and Great Amen. The EP could be sung or proclaimed with the music playing behind it and leading to the various acclamations. We used his composition at great feasts – Christmas, Easter, Pentecost (our pastor celebrated this on the week-end); Christ the King.

        Have always wondered how Gelineau would have responded to that – or even Vagaggini?

      5. “a bishop who learned something”

        He’s retired now, most likely, or dead, right?

        The current crop – and the BITs (Bishops-in-Training: pectoral crosses in the top draw, coats-of-arms already designed – think they have nothing to learn. And let the rest of us know it.

      6. Jeremy,

        No, Bishop Blaire is very much alive and in Stockton, CA.


        Gelineau would have been very happy. His view was that the Coptic model, with a whole host of acclamations for the assembly throughout, was the direction the Church needed to go in, so that the assembly would be constantly engaged in the great prayer.

        In my interview with him, he revealed that his Consilium working group actually wanted more acclamations in the EP, but settled for just the one (the memorial acclamation) because they thought that was all they could easily get past the bishops at the time! His minimum would have been an extra four in addition to the memorial acclamation: one after each of the epicleses plus Amens (à la Orthodox) after the words of institution over the bread and over the cup.

  11. As o’er each continent and island
    The dawn brings on another day,
    The voice of prayer is never silent
    Nor dies the strain of praise away.

    The sun that bids us rest is waking
    Our neighbors ‘neath a western sky,
    And hour by hour fresh lips are making
    The wondrous doings heard on high.

  12. correction Thy wondrous doings

    Someone referrred to the Malachi verse as interpreted by the Fathers — but did all the Fathers have the same interpretation? And why are we to be saddled with patristic interpretations sixty years after Divino Afflante Spiritu?

    1. A good number of patristic sources interpreted Mal 1:11 as pertaining to the Church’s offering of the Eucharist. Here’s a list I accumulated some time ago:

      Didache XIV:3
      St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, XLI & CXVII
      St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses IV:17; Fragments of Lost Writings XXXVII
      St. Athanasius, Festal Letter 332:4 & 339:11
      Augustine, Treatise concerning the Donatists 1:5
      Apostolic Constitutions VI:23 & VII:30
      St. John of Damascus, De Fide Orthodoxa IV:13

      The phrase also shows up in some liturgies (e.g. Divine Liturgy of St. Mark).

      Now, as to whether to retain this interpretation is to be “saddled”, I don’t know.

  13. oops, I see that that hymn has already been quoted. It is excellent that modern cosmology reshapes our use of the language of Scripture.

  14. The verse of Scripture interprets itself, if it’s using a typical Hebraism of saying the same thing twice:

    For from the rising of the sun to its setting
    my name is great among the nations,
    and in every place
    incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering.

    First it uses cosmic/temporal language (specifically cosmic, including the presence/activity of the sun in the worship of God), then it uses geographic/spatial language. God’s “name is great”, that is, the people praise and bless His name, e.g. with offerings.

  15. The text is very suitable in its application to the eucharistic sacrifice. I was only quizzing how the Fathers took the phrase about the rising and setting of the sun — as a temporal or as a spatial reference.

    1. The Fathers, for the most part, hone in on the “offering” aspect less than on the “rising/setting” language.

      Still, Justin writes of the sacrifice “presented by Christians in all places throughout the world” (Dialogue 117) and Augustine writes of “the Church spread abroad throughout the world” (Letter 185:5) when they refer to Mal 1:11.

      1. “The Fathers, for the most part…”

        Hey Jeffrey, what’s your source on this? You may be right in making this global claim about the Fathers, but I would like to know how you arrived at it. Surely you haven’t read all the patristic literature and studied it to the degree that you feel competent to pronounce on it yourself, so it must be that you are following a secondary source, right?

      2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #34:
        It’s late in the game, but I’m doing some research and thought I’d follow up here.

        In “The Eucharistic Prayer: A User’s Guide” by Barry Hudock, he says “The fathers of the church saw the Eucharist as a fulfillment of the words of the prophet Malachi [1:11]” and footnotes Mazza, “The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite” page 127, who wrote:

        “Eucharistic worship is prefigured in [Mal 1:11] when it is explained typologically, as it has been by the entire tradition from Didache 14, 3 to the Council of Trent and Vatican II. … In the Fathers of the Church, the people described by Malachi as offering a ‘pure sacrifice’ is the Church.”

        Mazza footnotes Lumen Gentium 17, which has this in a footnote: “(22) Cfr. Didache, 14: ed. Funk I, p. 32. S. Iustinus, Dial. 41: PG 6, 564. S. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. IV 17, 5; PG 7, 1023; Harvey, 2, p. 199 s. Conc. Trid., Sess. 22, cap. 1; Denz. 939 (1742).”

        Just tying up some loose ends!

      3. Based on the digital texts of the Fathers that I have access to who quote or strongly allude to Mal 1:11.

        I’ll post again shortly with a listing of the specific texts and their uses of Mal 1:11.

      4. Here’s my summary. Out of 21 source documents. These numbers are based on the author actually mentioning the sacrifice and/or the Church being throughout the world, not simply the presence of either of those concepts in the excerpt from Mal 1:11.

        Relate Mal 1:11 to the sacrifice of the New Law: 16
        Relate Mal 1:11 to the Church throughout the world: 14
        Relate Mal 1:11 to both: 7

        I based my original generalization on the quotes I had extracted from those documents specifically for the purpose of identifying the Eucharist with the sacrifice prophesied in Mal 1:11. So thank you for keeping me honest; I was using a specifically skewed set of references without remembering I’d omitted other ones on purpose.

        So it looks a bit more even than I thought.

      5. Jeffrey,

        These texts are in English. What is the Latin or Greek behind them? I suspect it is the notion of the oikoumene or the whole inhabited world, which is those days was only the Roman Empire, or the Hellenistic world, or the Jewish Diaspora.

        Christianity spread through the Hellenistic cities by means of the Jewish Diaspora. The dates and places for early Christianity strongly support that idea, e.g. having a Jewish community or being a Hellenistic city predicts having an early Christian community better than being visited by Saint Paul. Of course our scriptures including Paul’s letters are in Greek.

        So all these early Patristic commentaries where probably done in the context of all these including Roman dominion being providential.

        This Patristic worldview has too often shaped modern views of history; ignoring a lot of other civilizations including Christian ones that are labeled “heretical”. There is probably as much to criticize about it as to praise it.

        That said, personally I like the rising of the sun as a poetic way of saying East.

      6. Jack, do you mean that, in order to accurately reflect the Fathers’ intent, one should translate “From the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea”?

      7. No, that would obscure the limitations of their worldview. We just have to be aware of it when we use it, or choose not to use it.

      8. Jeffrey, thanks for showing us your sources. Jack makes a good point both about original languages and also about worldview. I would make another observation, also: this is an interesting compilation but very limited. On the basis of these documents, I don’t think anyone could conclude what “the Fathers” have written on a given subject much less what they think. So a more limited description of your findings would follow. I had thought perhaps you were relying on the conclusion of a scholar who was thoroughly conversant with the literature and had made a study of the subject.

      9. Rita, you’re welcome, and again, thank you for keeping me honest (and on my toes). I’ll try not to make that sort of egregious overstatement again!

      10. Rita, could you inform us of your research, though? I’m interested in your opinion, since the point raised by Jeffrey is at least very interesting. I’m sure you have access to a wider variety of sources and expertise, or at least it seems that you are alluding to such knowledge. It’s too good a point to leave open-ended.

      11. Hi Bruce, no I haven’t researched this subject myself, nor am I a patristics scholar, but I have great respect for those who are, and also an inkling of how formidable a thing it is to study the fathers of the church. The sources themselves are quite diverse and often difficult to read and moreover to interpret rightly in their context.

        Perhaps you’ve heard of the great nineteenth century French publicist J-P Migne and his Patrologia Latina (217 vol.) and Patrologia Graeca (166 vol.); these sources are now searchable electronically. They contain some valuable texts that otherwise would have been lost, but they also include erroneous texts which have been corrected by later scholarship, assigned other authors, etc. Aside from those contained in Migne there are other sources too, such as the ancient Syrian texts, that complicate the question. Yet even if all the files are available digitally and are searchable, there is no substitute for knowing and studying the texts in their integrity and with knowledge of their history.

        Secondary sources are indeed important to the general reader in a field such as this. If somebody told me Johannes Quasten or a similar luminary in the field had claimed the fathers thought this or that about Malachi, I would presume it to be a very serious opinion taking into account the layered ambiguity of the texts, and what we know of their original meaning. Alas, I do not have a source that does this for the reference we have been discussing! Sorry to tantalize you, Bruce!

  16. To Jeremy Stevens, re Bishop Blaire:

    ” ‘a bishop who learned something’

    He’s retired now, most likely, or dead, right?”

    No, he is very much still with us, having headed off from L.A. to the Diocese of Stockton, from which he acts as the current chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

  17. Re. Paul Inwood’s comments above and his citing of Joseph Gelineau.

    I am intrigued as to why the “Coptic” practice (whatever that is, as there are varieties of Copt!) of a multiplicity of acclamations in the many Euchatristic anaphoras of that tradition should have been taken by Pere Gelineau as a justification for acclamations in the Roman Rite, which is not Coptic, at least not in the post-medieval form in which we celebrate it.

    I am not conversant with the contemporary celebration of the “Coptic” Liturgy, but how do these acclamations work in actual fact? Looking at an ancient anaphora is a very different thing from going to a contemporary Mass. The important question to me would be what do contemporary Coptic Christians (Ethiopic, Egyptian, etc) actually do?

    The correspondent above who suggested that the best procedure would be to omit the post-consecration acclamation altogether at least had the Roman Rite on his side up till the Vatican II reforms.

    However, I think it is fair to suggest that there may be at least two good reasons to have acclamations, and Christ-addressed ones to boot, at this point.

    First, popular piety has always been a contributor to liturgical development. From Alexander Schmemann onwards, liturgiologists seem to have been increasingly willing to allow this. Popular piety at this point is definitely Christocentric, as in the old private aspiration “My Lord and my God!” which is an acclamation, is addressed to Christ, is biblical, etc.

    Second, the acclamation is a continuation, not a response, to the priest’s words “The Mystery of Faith.” The accompanying rubric makes this plain. The words are an acclamation, not a proclamation – which rules out “Christ has died,” etc.

    The term “Mystery of Faith” seems to be employed by Saint Paul (1Tim.3:16) as a title of Christ, as the next verse makes clear. Was it for this reason that the phrase appeared in the Roman Canon in the words of consecration over the chalice, I wonder?

    So there may be an argument that to address the acclamation to Christ is appropriate, even if it seems to break the “to the Father” direction of the Prayer as a whole.

    Alan Griffiths.

  18. Rev. Alan – thanks for your comments. Still raises some quesitons for me. Think I understand your distinction (history) between acclamation and proclamation but don’t we actually say ….”We proclaim the death, etc.”

    Wonder why we could not shift to a proclamation of the community’s faith after each section of the EP (thus, avoiding the “to Father or Christ” issue)? What am I missing there? Why couldn’t we understand that the presider’s “the mystery of faith” is also a proclamation even if its roots are Pauline?

    Also, forgive my lack of knowledge but you make a good point about East vs. West – but, I thought that Jungmann had captured and described western liturgies that used acclamations or proclamations?

  19. Alan —

    Gelineau first spoke about this at the Strawberry Hill Joint Congress of Universa Laus and the Society of St Gregory back in 1978, in an impromptu lecture which did not form part of the main proceedings but which was attended by a large number of people. His primary focus was as follows:

    Roman form:
    Presidential monologue, law of diminishing returns for the assembly, with a reasonable-sized Sanctus, then a smaller memorial acclamation, finally a tiny Amen.

    Coptic form (and this is, in my experience, used by all Copts, both Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox, and yes, they still do it today):
    EP with a multitude of acclamations/interpolations for the assembly: no less than 13 in the institution narrative alone, in some traditions, not counting the remainder of the Prayer.

    Many of the acclamations appear to be along the lines of “Yes! Yes! We believe!”, and accompanied by the clashing of cymbals (by the assembly). [Sidenote: I use this as a demonstration of different traditions of what we refer to as “reverence”. For the Copts, if you are not acclaiming and are not clashing your little cymbals, you are not being reverent. Contrast this with the hushed attitude, kneeling posture, steepled hands, etc, of some Western traditions of reverence.]

    His basic point was that a presidential monologue does not engage the assembly. The Coptic tradition, where the assembly are continually engaged because of the great number of interventions is a better model.

    Adding my own gloss, I would say that the EPs for Masses with Children which use this same form should not be written off as infantile. In fact we adults have very limited attention spans too. How many times have we all dozed off during the EP? Gelineau’s point was about the engagement of the assembly as an integral component of the EP, not about the Coptic form per se.

    1. The last time we had this discussion, I raised the topic of all those “Through Christ our Lord. Amen” interpolations in the Roman Canon. I mentioned that I had heard more than one liturgist referring to these as the vestiges of assembly acclamations which must have fallen out of the Roman Canon at an early date but which survived as truncated phrases for the priest. I was challenged to find anyone who had written about this, and indeed I did not find anything online referring to this.

      Nevertheless, it appears that this is a plausible theory, giving weight to the opinion that the Roman Canon itself once had acclamations for the assembly.

      1. I was thinking of mentioning those “Through Christ our Lord”s in the Roman Canon when the topic of interjections in the EP (e.g. after each part of the prayer), but I didn’t think it would get much traction here.

  20. re. Bill De Haas, above:- but don’t we actually say ….”We proclaim the death, etc.” ?

    Yes, indeed we do. However, this is a proclamation functioning within another rubric, which is no longer the “Let us proclaim the M. of F.” I know it is tortuous to say this, but what we have here is Christ being acclaimed by means of a proclamation of his death.

    Paul Inwood is surely right in his admission not to have found evidence that the Roman Canon anciently had people’s acclamations. Indeed, all the available evidence I am aware of points in the other direction.

    Alan Griffiths.

  21. Fr. Allan and Paul – thanks for the responses. As you can tell, my educational process (acclamation, proclamation, etc.) stopped years ago.

    Given this and with Fr. Anthony’s caution about a consistent, recognized latin foundational document (original latin for lack of a better term) so that organic development does not just become change for change sake, have some questions:
    – my understanding of SC/VII is that a principle task was to study, research, ressource liturgical Western history and make it more “participatory and active” for the sacramental communities (not just for the eucharist, but sacraments, liturgical life in general, etc.)
    – if that understanding is accurate, then to my mind the insertion of LA changes a translation method that does “violence” to the liturgical guiding principle – example would be the post above by the UK liturgist on the phrase at communion time. It was a private presider prayer that ICEL studied and changed to a community proclamation. Now, by inserting a “literal” translation, we lose the ICEL purpose & principle – thus, a method becomes more important than the liturgical principle. That is upside down.

    – can think of many other places where this has occurred.

    Does anyone have access to the ICEL explanations and decision making process that implemented these principles and created choices of words/phrases that we appear to argue about now…..for me, the argument starts without a context and is impoverished because we are allowing a lesser method to dictate and change our liturgical practice. This doesn’t make a whole lot of pastoral or professional sense.

    1. the phrase at communion time […] was a private presider prayer that ICEL studied and changed to a community proclamation

      I’m not sure that’s an accurate description. The phrase was already made into a community proclamation by the 1969 Missal itself, with the Latin words unchanged from the years before. Having read Fr. Andrew’s brief article, I don’t think I agree with him that the current translation of the Domine non sum dignus “fit[s] the ritual” and the new translation does not.

  22. The phrase was already made into a community proclamation by the 1969 Missal itself, with the Latin words unchanged from the years before.

    Actually, the phrase is said by the communicants in the 1962 Missal too.

  23. If I am remembering my youth correctly, except in dialogue Masses, which were fairly rare in most parishes (but common in religious communities by the late 1950s), only the server said the “Domine, non sum dignus” in response to the invitation “Ecce Agnus Dei.”

    When the eucharistic fast from midnight was required (not even a drop of water, another cause for much scrupulosity), very few people went to Communion at the last two Sunday Masses, usually around eleven and twelve o’clock. Sometimes none at all. The poor server had to keep his eye open for that hesitant person that came up the side aisle just as he was getting the water and wine for the priest’s second ablution. Having seen the person, he would signal the priest, who would then have to re-open the taberbacle to be able to take out the ciborium. And the server would then have to retrieve the paten, and, bowing low, recite the Confiteor. It was always very nerve-wracking. The last two Masses were “just getting it in,” and they were usually over quite quickly. In the parish that I grew up in, in a growing suburb, all six Sunday Masses were low Masses with no singing. The only exception was Christmas Midnight and perhaps the Mass at nine on Easter Sunday. Clearing the parking lot for the next Mass was a major consideration.

    According to the rule of the diocese, the first buildings to be built were the school, and perhaps convent. The priests found a house in the neighborhood, and sometimes the Sisters also. In the school there was a space fitted out as a church. When it was possible to build the church, the space in the school became an auditorium or gym. This “temporary” church situation would often go on for ten, twenty-five years. The school and convent took priority, frequently going from 400 to 1,000 students in six or eight years, with the number of Sisters going perhaps from eight to eighteen. Priests would get in line begging Mothers General for more Sisters.

    1. If I am remembering my youth correctly, except in dialogue Masses, which were fairly rare in most parishes (but common in religious communities by the late 1950s), only the server said the “Domine, non sum dignus” in response to the invitation “Ecce Agnus Dei.

      Practice varied from place to place, but it was definitely done in some places. There is contemporary evidence for this in a number of sources, one of which I’ve linked in the other thread.

  24. A vivid memory from my childhood was the Sisters arriving for the daily Mass at 6:30 am. They had already been praying in their own chapel for an hour. They would enter the church by a side door in the front, then cross to the middle aisle, genuflecting two by two. They would fill the first several pews, three Sisters in each pew. The Sisters wore long Communion veils. Just before Communion, they removed a pin from that veil, and stuck it into one of their ample sleeves. Immediately after receiving the Host, they would drop the veil over their faces, and return to the pew. After a period of thanksgiving, the veil would be raised, and fastened again to the ordinary veil. Soon after Mass, with the signal of the superior, the very ritualized exit would follow.

    Enough late afternoon reveries.

    Among my not inconsiderable problems with the 2011 Missal is the “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, ….” Father Cameron-Mowat has well articulated my own misgivings. Is every Scripture allusion, however venerable, sacrosanct? I find this particular allusion very contorted and artificial. Both the present French and Italian texts make no reference to roofs and souls. Yes, they too must revise their Missals, but they are moving ever so slowly, and are most unlikely to take the dictation from the Roman authorities that the Anglophone bishops so lifelessly succumbed to. A great pastoral betrayal, it seems to me.

    1. Is every Scripture allusion, however venerable, sacrosanct?

      The scriptural allusion seems to have been important enough to whomever added the “Domine, non sum dignus” (as well as the three quotes from Scripture immediately before it) to the Roman Rite. They could have chosen a less explicit allusion or a different (possibly non-scriptural) phrase altogether, like “the holy (things) for the holy (people)”.

      Since we celebrate according to the Roman Rite — permission to draw up new texts notwithstanding — I think it’s important that we celebrate according to the texts particular to the Roman Rite.

      1. Dear Jeffrey,

        I expect that you would have been on the side of the Dominicans in the Chinese Rites Controversy. I would make the “smile sign,” but would be sure to botch it.

        A good Sunday!


      2. Jeffrey – that is the whole point…what are the texts particular to the Roman Rite? You may have your list (sorry, reading some version of a missal from 1962 doesn’t instill much confidence in my opinion nor does trying to parse differences between 1969 and 1973 ….since that seems to have varied by location, diocese, etc.).

        What we do know is that ICEL and Consilium began a process to ressource and renew the liturgy – choices and decisions were made that drew from tradition, scripture, etc. You can monday morning quarterback and question those decisions but, as I asked above, without knowing or having the actual documentationa on those decisions in the 1960’s, your comments have little context or, as you have done, you pull something from one source (probably not even a primary source or you reference some memory or anecdotal story you were told, as if that story was the total experience of all english speaking catholics) and base your opinion upon that.

        Study Jungmann’s history of the mass – scriptural allusions have changed through out our history. Very few have risen to the point of being “canonised” as permanent. What Jungmann does document is how choices were impacted by culture, different language groups, etc.

  25. Jack Rakosky :

    Christianity spread through the Hellenistic cities by means of the Jewish Diaspora. The dates and places for early Christianity strongly support that idea, e.g. having a Jewish community or being a Hellenistic city predicts having an early Christian community better than being visited by Saint Paul.

    A fact which has always been a mystery, in that how did remote Christian communities start and thrive? How and by whom did they come to institute an episcopate, diaconate, and presbyterate which were very likely never visited by apostles or disciples, or anyone commissioned (ordained) by them? Yet, managed to thrive and spread until the rise and spread of Islam?
    Some have survived to this day, but others did not.

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    1. Dunstan

      You’re having a problem with your quotations – your responses appear as if they were part of what they are responding to.

  26. Re. Bill De Haas at no.52:

    I have a great deal of sympathy with this comment on ICEL.

    The problem with the new translation of the Missal is that in so many cases it has swung the pendulum, as it were, too far in the “Literal translation” direction. 1973 went too far in the direction of paraphrase, now the opposite seems to be the case.

    While not being a literal translation, the new version sticks so close to Latin forms that the requirements of English speech are often neglected. Despite the historic relationship between public English speech and Latin rhetorical forms, this makes in some cases for awkward sounding texts.

    The Edit that took place last year has made this worse, while also egregiously disobeying some of the translation guidelines, as is argued in ICEL’s excellent report at the time.

    It is unfortunate, to take a single example, that the first of the new collects that we will hear later this year is one of the lamer specimens in the new translation. It starts off with a metaphor in the Latin, about “running forth with good works.” How strongly this image might have sounded in the 8th century we cannot now know. In “modern” English, though, it just sounds odd, and perhaps slightly comic.

    The 1998 Sacramentary version spoke of preparing the way for the coming of Christ with good works. The translation in our English Breviary spoke of ourselves meeting Christ, bearing the harvest of good works achieved by God’s grace.

    The fact that translators have embellished this as they have in the two instances I cite indicates that the literal rendering may not sound too convincing, and the notion of “run forth with good works” which I think is the new version, makes little sonic sense, at least to my ear – and I have tried it many times on various volunteers!

    While in general I regard the new translation as a great improvement on what we have, I am bound to think that a great deal of detailed work will eventually have to be done to re-balance the relationship between the Latin “original” and its English version.

    My experience with priests suggests very clearly that many will be amending some of what they perceive to be the oddities of the text to simplify it or make it sound more elegant.

    Alan Griffiths.

  27. To correct what I wrote above, the new Collect for the First Sunday of Advent reads:

    Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
    the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
    with righteous deeds at his coming,
    so that, gathered at his right hand,
    they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
    Through our Lord.

    The rhythms are halting, the image of ‘running forth’ is weak, and in UK English at least, has a faintly comic ring, as it sounds like a familiar comedic pastiche of ‘olde’ English. The repetition of ‘to’ in the second line is also unattractive.

    The prayer is feeble, not a match for the opening of the Advent Season, the first Sunday of the Church’s annual cycle. The issue it discusses – righteous deeds to prepare the way – is pivotal to a spirituality of Advent, that of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in Saint Matthew’s Gospel.

    However, such matter is not represented in this prayer with enough force, or elegance.

    The (Cranmer’s?) original English Collect in The Book of Common Prayer, though not on the same theme exactly, does the “Advent” job much better.

    Alan Griffiths.

    1. Although I have seen this prayer before, I had forgotten it. I am struck anew by how awful it is! For some reason (habit?) I skipped the “your faithful” and understood “Grant us“, and then was puzzled by what the pronoun “they” towards the end referred to. Re-read it a couple of times, and thought I understood that “they” referred to the “deeds” that ought to be “worthy”. In fact that was a misunderstanding on my part: I did not spend enough time staring at it. It’s only on a later reading that my eye caught the entire text and that I realized that “they” refers to “your faithful”.

      It’s the kind of experience that makes me want to stay away from those awful, misleading texts.

      Maybe it is time to move away from the Mass and consider replacing the daily Mass by a daily communion service where we would have more flexibility to use beautiful prayers.

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