Anamnesis Translation in the Pauline Eucharistic Prayers: Part I (Roman Canon)

The following semantic and syntactical analysis of the anamnesis of each of the four main eucharistic prayers of the reformed Missale Romanum and their 2010 Roman Missal translations begins with a discussion of the anamnesis unde et memores in the Roman Canon. This series invites PTB participants to consider both the literary complexity and theological significance of these prayers. The anamnesis, or memorial of the paschal mystery of faith just proclaimed in the memorial acclamation, has sometimes been overlooked as an integral part of Mass just as integral as the consecratory formulas. As will be seen, each anamnesis is rich in imagery and literary depth. Each Latin anamnesis text also offers challenges to translators, as the nuance of Latin prayer sometimes must be conveyed in English paraphrase.

This series of investigations culminates in a conclusory reflection on the conflation of the transitional particles igitur and unde into “therefore” across all four eucharistic prayers. Has this translation strategy adequately conveyed the transition from memorial acclamation to anamnesis given the very different imagery used in each anaphora? Why, for example. did the authors of Eucharistic Prayers II and III choose igitur instead of the unde of the Roman Canon, even while preserving the memores meme from the Roman Canon?

Before a fuller analysis of transitional particles in the anamnesis of each of the four main eucharistic prayers of the reformed Missale Romanum, I offer an in-depth critique of the current translation of each eucharistic prayer in light of Latin semantics and syntax. A critique of the role of particles within the diverse anaphoras cannot take place without in-depth semantic and syntactic study.

This first post in the series investigates the anamnesis of the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I). The next post will investigate the anamnesis of Eucharistic Prayer II and the anamnesis of Eucharistic Prayer III. A third post will investigate the anamnesis of Eucharistic Prayer IV. The closing post will evaluate the role of the particles igitur and unde in light of the previous linguistic studies.


I have block quoted the typical Latin text and current English translation for the anamnesis of each eucharistic prayer, beginning here with the Roman Canon. I have not included eucharistic prayer translations from the Sacramentary, as these translations do not express igitur and unde.


Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I)

”unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, eiusdem Christi Filii tui, Domini nostri, tam beatae passionis, necnon et ab inferis resurrectionis, sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis: offerimus praeclarae maiestati tuae de tuis donis et datis: hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, Panem sanctum vitae et Calicem salutis perpetuae.”

“Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.”


The prayer unde et memores breaks down into the following syntactical components:

(1a)unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui […]”

This is a plural clause with a nominative plural noun servi, nominative plural pronouns nos and tui, and a nominative plural adjective memores. memores in turn modifies nos servi tui. As is common in Roman liturgy, the prayer soon introduces a singular vocative of address, Domine, “Lord”.

(1b) “[…] sed et plebs tua sancta […]”

This is a singular clause, with the nominative singular plebs modified by the nominative singular pronoun tua and the nominative singular adjective sancta. plebs, “people”, is always grammatically singular in Latin as it is an aggregate noun. Even so, plebs is always translated as plural in English. sed et, which indicates a shift to another subject construction, is an idiomatic transition best translated as “and”.

Consider the combination of (1a) and (1b) together. “ unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta […]”

A complication arises. memores cannot modify sed et plebs tua sancta, but only nos servi tui. A very literal translation of memores might read: “It follows that we your mindful servants and also your holy people […] offer […]”. This English translation confuses the role of memores by suggesting that memores might also apply to sed et plebs tua sancta. A translation in this manner would also result in the postponement of the main verb until after a description of the paschal mystery. English, which is more strongly analytic (syntax based on word order rather than word ending), cannot easily “hold” the main verb until the conclusion of more complex sub-clauses. Some paraphrasing is necessary in order to relate subject to verb more clearly.

ICEL’s translation reads,

“Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer […]”

ICEL’s paraphrase clarifies two important points which might be obscured in a more literal translation into English. ICEL wisely avoids a conflation of nos servi tui and plebs tua sancta by recasting the adjective memores as a direct object noun directly following the confected verb “we celebrate”. This translation strategy preserves the pronominal subject nos, “we”, both before and after the recalling of the paschal mystery. The double “we” also allows ICEL to move the subject “nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta”, “we, your servants and your holy people” to a place directly before the main verb offerimus, “offer”. As shall be seen, these sensible strategies contrast sharply with ICEL’s more literal and confusing translation of Eucharistic Prayer IV.


(2a) “[…]eiusdem Christi Filii tui […]”

This clause includes the genitive pronouns eiusdem and tui and two genitive nouns Christi and Filii.

(2b) “[…]tam beatae passionis,[…]”

This is a clause consisting of a transitional adverb of contrast tam (“as”, “so”, cf. LSJ sv. tam, I.A.1), the genitive noun passionis, and the genitive adjective beatae.

(2c) “[…]necnon et ab inferis resurrectionis,[…]”

This clause consists of the intermediate consequential particle necnon, the genitive singular resurrectionis, and the ablative plural prepositional phrase ab infernis. Note that while Latin uses a ablative plural prepositional phrase ab infernis, the English singular “from the dead” conveys the same point. A similar, and quite contentious, Latin plural to English singular translation question can also be found at pro multis during the consecration of the cup.

(2d) “[…]sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis:[…]”

This clause contains the final consequential article and conjunction sed et, the genitive singular noun ascensionis, the genitive singular adjective gloriosae, and the accusative plural prepositional phrase in caelos. Although in caelos is in the plural and thus literally “heavens”, the translation is most frequently singular in English. Hence ab infernis and in caelos form both literary bookends and an example of Latin’s tendency to plural eschatological states (hell, heaven) where such states would be singular in English.

tam […] necnon […] sed et“, “as […] not only […] but also” is an example of verbal punctuation for a language which, like Greek, did not begin to use miniscule letters and punctuation until the medieval era. Consider these particles as verbal outline points designed to illustrate that the three concepts listed are not only related but also consequential. ICEL was wise not to translate these particles literally. English word order implicitly and sufficiently demonstrates a consequential relationship between these ideas.

ICEL’s translation reads,

“[…] of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, […]”

ICEL’s postponment of the genitive phrase eiusdem Christi Filii tui, Domini nostri, “ of Christ, your Son, our Lord”, is congruent with both Latin and English syntax.


(3a) “[…] praeclarae maiestati tuae[…]”

The main verb offerimus, “we offer”, is followed by a dative clause referring to God the Father, with a dative singular noun maiestati, a dative singular adjective praeclarae, and a dative singular pronoun tuae.

(3b) “[…] de tuis donis et datis […]”

Here, an ablative prepositional phrase with a plural ablative pronoun tuis is directly followed by the ablative plural nouns donis and datis. donis and datis conceptually refer to offerimus.

ICEL offers a mostly literal and reasonable translation of (3a) and (3b) given the requirements of English.

“[…] to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us […]”

“to your glorious majesty” maps directly over the Latin dative praeclarae maiestati tuae, while “from the gifts that you have given us” is a slight gloss of de tuis donis et datis. “from the gifts that you have given us”, while syntactically not related to Latin, nevertheless captures well the semantic meaning of the passivity of receiving gifts from God (donis) and God’s active bestowal of gifts (datis).


(4) “[…]hostiam [+] puram, hostiam [+] sanctam, hostiam [+] immaculatam, Panem [+] sanctum vitae et Calicem [+] salutis perpetuae.[…]” [+ my addition in brackets]

The conclusion contains a set of accusative singular noun-adjective direct objects of the verb offerimus. I have included the rubrically indicated blessings [+] of the Tridentine recension of the Roman Canon to demonstrate that the just completed sacrifice, and not the retelling of the paschal mystery, had been the focus of the unde et memores in the medieval and early modern theology of anamnesis.

Note also the internal parallelisms of Panem sanctum vitae and Calicem salutis perpetuae. At panem the accusative noun – accusative adjective triple pattern (hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam) changes to a one accusative noun – one accusative adjective – one genitive adjective pattern for the bread and an accusative noun – two genitive adjective pattern for Calicem. Perhaps this is not surprising, as the triple pattern of accusative constructions addresses the victim of the sacrifice (hostia) we offer (offerimus), and the double pattern of constructions addresses the consecrated bread and cup. The now deprecated blessings highlight this triple-double pattern.

ICEL’s translation, though quite literal, presents a interesting point which is perhaps a question of taste.

“this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.”

From the 17th century onward, English has moved entirely away from the capitalization of nouns. I suggest that the capitalization of “bread” and “chalice” in the manner of Panem and Calicem is incongruent with contemporary English usage. A consistent non-capitalization of nouns, even where capitalized in the Latin text, would not, to my knowledge, affect the orthodoxy of any Christian prayer.


  1. I am speaking from a meager understanding of the Latin, so I have some questions that might be overly simple, or just misguided.

    You mention the sequence “tam […] necnon […] sed et“, but not the parallel “unde […] nos […] sed et“ that precedes it. Are they completely unrelated?
    Related to this are some other questions:
    Why do you say “memores cannot modify sed et plebs tua sancta, but only nos servi tui”? Don’t the two clauses refer to the same collection, first as plural group and then as a unified people? If they cannot be conflated, it is because they are already identical. Why such a strong disjunction?

    Moving on. Isn’t the use of hostia enough to establish this is about sacrifice? What do the blessings add?

    And why is it not “the holy bread of life”? where does ‘eternal’ come from? What purpose does it serve? It strikes me as being similar to the rampaging capitalization that is also reflected by chalice rather than cup. Is ICEL trying to insert an emphasis that is not really present in the Latin?

    1. NB editors, I will address Jim’s excellent questions in a brief series of posts. Thank you for your understanding.

      I will illustrate “tam […] necnon […] sed et” this way. The difference between “tam […]” and “unde […] nos […] sed et” is that the former is a purposeful ordering of events in stages and the latter is a literary connection between the memorial acclamation and the anamnesis.

      Here’s a description of making dough for leavened (not communion) bread.

      “First, proof the yeast. Then, sift in a smaller amount of flour with the yeast and knead. Let that rest for a while. Next, after that’s risen a bit, add more flour and knead again. The dough will be ready to rise once more when it’s smooth in texture.”

      The Roman Canon’s literary style does not prefer paratactic sentences (i.e. short, subject-verb-object as in the baking instructions above). This is in sharp contrast with contemporary English. The somewhat convoluted new ICEL solution is to create a verb “we celebrate” in an attempt to both accommodate what Latin would prefer and create (arguably) comprehensible English sentences. “[…] tam beatae passionis, necnon et ab inferis resurrectionis, sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis […]” (2 b-d), would literally read “as the blessed passion, and not only the resurrection from the dead, but also the glorious ascension into heaven”. This translation is not the same as the current official translation, which relies on a previous knowledge of the order of the paschal mystery as well as a bit of mental gymnastics to follow the verb structure.

      1. In my previous example I contrasted the way in which English orders ideas with a typical Latin solution. unde […] nos […] sed et is not a sequence of events in time, but rather a transition between the memorial acclamation and a new prayer of memorial. unde and its functional sibling igitur are words designed to indicate a new thought. Contemporary English would simply start a new paragraph to convey the same idea.

        “[…] nos […] sed et […]”, as you note Jim, creates an important translation question. As you have observed, nos introduces a new subject (discrete persons), and sed et introduces the notion of a “people”. While these concepts are certainly related (Christians are brothers and sisters through baptism as well as the Body of Christ) the Latin grammatical relation is between the plural memores the plural nos servi tui. I agree with you that conceptually nos and plebs can be memores or “mindful”. As I am only trained in Latin and not a theologian, I can’t comment on the significance of this relationship. Hopefully a more knowledgeable contributor can clarify this theological point.

        I fully agree with you that ICEL’s overly close following of the typical Latin text has resulted in capitalization which is not appropriate for contemporary English. Capitalization of “holy nouns” does not make consecrated bread or the cup more holy or special. Is not the retelling of our salvation history not also holy and significant? Similarly, the postconciliar reforms removed the blessings as their presence is not only not intrinsic to the prayer but also perhaps a misplaced emphasis.

        Thank you Jim for pointing out that there is no aeternae, “eternal”, in the Latin. I am unsure why ICEL decided to insert “eternal” into the English translation (perhaps to balance perpetuae, “everlasting”?)

      1. Indeed, as you note Jeff my proofreading is quite poor. It would’ve been better to have a second pair of eyes confirm the text’s correctness.

        The sentence you refer to is also innaccurate. It should read instead,

        “At panem the accusative noun – accusative adjective triple pattern (hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam) changes to a one accusative noun, one accusative adjective, [one] genitive noun, and [one] genitive adjective pattern for the bread and an accusative noun, [one] genitive noun, and [one] genitive adjective pattern for Calicem.” [my emphasis and brackets]

        Even so, the aeternae and perpetuae parallelism is clearly evident both in semantics and syntax.

        I apologize if I mistakenly attribute a noun as an adjective or vice versa. I am bound to make mistakes even after hours of rereading drafts. Thank you in advance for your criticisms.

    2. re capitalization – I was always taught that (in print) after the consecration bread and wine/chalice/cup became Bread, Wine/Chalice/Cup to reflect the change of substance.
      Kind regards,
      John Henley

      1. This is by nature a gray area, and will always be so, since it is merely a question of convention. Style guides vary on such questions. Medieval Latin didn’t capitalize anything for the most part – “filius dei” looks funny to us but you see it in medieval manuscripts. English usage within the Church has also varied widely. So I don’t assume any slight or disrespect when I something isn’t capitalized (I’m not say you do either). Recently in the US we’ve seen increased capitalization of liturgical nouns, I suppose to be more respectful or reverent. To the extent that it’s an aesthetic question, I think it looks like hell. Note that the new Roman Missal does NOT capitalize pronouns for God, but I’ve noticed in the last year or two that bishops and others are starting to do that.

  2. Surely an academic article like this belongs in a journal like Worship. I shall be interested to see if there are many comments. Nonetheless, I salute Jordan for his fine work on this important topic.

    1. Most disciplines have annual and regional meetings that enable scholars, especially young scholars, an opportunity to develop their skills in conversation with others. Some of the posts here on PrayTell, such as this one, probably fall into that category. I think they are a helpful addition to the mix.

      I don’t judge the value of a post by the number of comments. Some posts fit well into church controverises and bring out many comments from the same people often rehashing old issues. I don’t read those comments no matter how numerous, just like a fast forward through the political commentary on the news shows, no information there.

      In all my comments and posts, I try to keep in mind the much broader unseen audience of this blog who do not take time to comment.

  3. It is misleading to refer to the current official translation as ‘the ICEL version’. ICEL did a great deal of work in its preparation, but the final revision was made by the CDWDS with the help of the Vox Clara Committee. Not all the blemishes (or indeed virtues) of the official version can be attributed to ICEL.

    1. Thank you for the correction. In further revision I will be sure to explain these distinctions.

  4. Jordan, thanks for this splendid piece of work. Close analysis of this sort will help us understand the choices that various translators have made over time. And thanks for presenting it in an way that is open to discussion. Please view these comments as responding to that gracious invitation.

    If I am reading you correctly, you are taking unde as a standalone ‘transitional particle’. And you seem to be treating et … sed et as paired conjunctions – ‘both your mindful servants and your holy people’ or ‘not only your mindful servants but also (or ‘even’) your holy people’. In this rendering, memores most likely modifies servi. This may well be correct, but is it the only possible reading? I have two reasons for thinking that memores can be read in an adverbial sense, modifying offerimus or modifying both subjects.

    The first is that plural verb, offerimus, which clearly has both servi and plebs as its subjects and is therefore plural even though plebs is singular. A similar construction would be something like

    Defessi post proelium, et milites sed et dux ad castram reveniunt, ‘Exhausted after the battle, both the soldiers and the leader returned to the camp.’ Here defessi and reveniunt refer both to the soldiers and the leader.

    The second is that Unde et can appear as a transitional term on its own, meaning something like ‘And hence’ or ‘and thus’ or ‘wherefore’ – as in a letter of St Siricius:

    Unde et Dominus Jesus, cum nos suo illustrasset adventu, in Evangelio protestatur, quia Legem venerit implere, non solvere

    which I think means something like

    ‘And hence it is explained in the gospel that the Lord Jesus, when he enlightened us with his coming, came to fulfil the law not to abolish it.’

    If this is correct, then the ICEL rendering may make more ‘literal’ sense, as does the older Anglican version of the unde et memores

    Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, we thy humble servants, having in remembrance the precious death and passion of thy dear Son, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension, entirely desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the holy Bread of eternal life, and the Cup of everlasting salvation.

    1. re: Jonathan Day on May 29, 2012 – 7:35 am

      Thank you for your in-depth criticism Jonathan. memores has caused me more than a little heartburn. Still it’s an important word to understand, especially because the same word appears in the anamnesis of EP II and of EP III.

      Your example from Caesar (the sentence begins with an ablative absolute — how could it not be him?) clearly demonstrates that a plural and a singular noun can “share” a plural verb. That’s certainly the case in unde et memores as well, as you note. There also might be some precedent for memores as an adverb. The adverb tam (c.f. Lewis and Short s.v. tam)(Perseus) was once the feminine accusative singular of an archaic demonstrative pronoun. It is possible, perhaps, that the feminine accusative plural adjective memores had likewise been made an adverb by the late 4th and 5th century CE Rome. If so, then the question of agreement between memores, nos servi tui and plebs sua sancta might be solved in a way which is more consonant with the theology of memorial.

      I am inclined to agree with your translation of St. Siricius and his use of unde as a standalone transitional term. unde and igitur are often functionally equivalent in classical narrative and oration. Both indicate a change of logical or thematic direction. The Roman Canon contains an eternal puzzle, as the first prayer famously opens with a “dangling” igitur. Since it’s anyone’s guess as to the predecessor prayer to te igitur, it’s difficult to pinpoint the purpose of other transitional terms in the Roman Canon. I am also partial towards Myles Coverdale’s translation of unde as “wherefore” and not “therefore”, given unde‘s logical dependency on the institution narrative just said.

      1. Jordan — just to be clear, my proposal was that the transitional term is not unde but unde et. That is the construction that appears in Siricius. If I’m right, then there is no et … et sed here, but simply the et sed linking servi and plebs; and memores could thus be plural, since the “mindful” group is made of two subgroups — as in magistri et discipuli impasti cenam expectaverunt: “The hungry teachers and students awaited their supper”.

        Perhaps it’s significant that we refer to the entire section as the unde et memores, “Wherefore, remembering…” — which would apply to both clergy and people.

        The “Caesar” example was just one I had made up, but it does have a Caesearan flavour. That’s not an ablative absolute, though, just a past participle (nominative plural).

      2. re: Jonathan Day on May 29, 2012 – 5:14 pm

        Jonathan: The “Caesar” example was just one I had made up, but it does have a Caesearan flavour. That’s not an ablative absolute, though, just a past participle (nominative plural).

        What an embarrassing mistake! 🙁 Unfortunately I have been conditioned to reflexively think that any perfect (past) passive participial construction at the beginning of a Caesarean (or neo-Caesarean) sentence must be ablative absolute. Never trust blind instinct when reading Latin.

        I now recognize your point about the et in unde et memores. I have a suspicion that unde et is a late Latin construction, as Cicero (for example) uses unde separately and within subordinate clauses. Although it might not be wise to continue this rather arcane thread, I will nevertheless try to find a clear classical use of unde and contrast the classical use against later Latin.

      3. Unde et also appears in the letters of St Gregory I (around +600); definitely Late Latin. But is that not the period in which this prayer would have been written down?

  5. The history of translating the Roman Canon into English goes back some 400 years. I do not feel that I am learned enough to comment on them, but I would like to throw into the mix the 16th.century translation, [mis-?] attributed to Coverdale, which is now sanctioned for use in the Book of Divine Worship [from ] :
    “Wherefore, O Lord, we thy servants, and thy holy people also,
    remembering the blessed passion of the same Christ thy Son our Lord, as also his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven; do offer unto thine excellent majesty of thine own gifts and bounty, the pure victim, the holy victim, the immaculate victim, the holy Bread of eternal life, and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.”
    I have also seen memores . . . translated as “having in remembrance”.
    Re: Igitur and Unde: earlier translations seem to maintain the distinction between them with “Therefore” and “Wherefore”
    The old English Missal for this paragraph, remained close to the “Coverdale”:
    “Wherefore, O Lord, we also thy servants, together with thy holy people , mindful of the blessed passion of the same Christ thy Son our Lord, as also his resurrection from hell, and glorious ascension into heaven: do offer unto thine excellent majesty of thine own gifts and bounty, a pure host, a holy host, a spotless host, the holy Bread of eternal life, and the Chalice of everlasting salvation. ”

    Kind regards
    John Henley

  6. Jordan,

    Thanks for your response, and of course the original post.

    Your response presupposes that there is not “a purposeful ordering of events in stages” within the “literary connection between the memorial acclamation and the anamnesis.” ‘unde…nos…sed et” moves from unnamed to collective to singular (holy) group. This is one of the aims of the Eucharistic prayer, that we move from discrete individuals to being one in Christ offering prayer to God. The purposeful ordering here accomplishes what elsewhere is done by recalling the names of different companions, dramatic reenactment, etc.

    “tam…necnon…sed et” is similar in some ways. I would translate it “the blessed passion, not just rising from below but ascending to the heavens” with suitable adaptations to the context. It echoes the creed’s “came down…buried…rose…ascended…at the right hand of the Father.” This is a more apt reading if it were blessed pasch instead of passion, but it still fits with passion.

    Both sequences end exalted, God’s holy people // in the heavens. (both after “sed et”!) This sustains the unity of the memorial acclamation, and the preceding narrative, throughout this prayer.

    I hope I am not carrying this too far. I tend toward over analyzing, a real problem when speaking in areas of my ignorance like this. I could have gone on about memore intentionally modifying the mismatched plebs for effect, but I will leave it at that.

    1. Jim: ‘unde…nos…sed et” moves from unnamed to collective to singular (holy) group. This is one of the aims of the Eucharistic prayer, that we move from discrete individuals to being one in Christ offering prayer to God.

      Please over analyze! My post is merely a starting point for further discussion about Latin prayer, the current translation, and perhaps even ways in which this translation could be clarified or improved.

      This is quite true from a theological standpoint. Jonathan plausibly proposes that memores might be an adverb which pertains not only to servi but also plebs. This suggestion allows for your succinct interpretation of the meaning of eucharistic prayer.

      I think that your translation of “tam…necnon…sed et” is a good one, especially in light of the Nicene Creed. Perhaps Vox Clara would have done well to include more explicit transitions, even though the translation as it stands might make sense to many catechized Catholics. I’ve often thought, however, that eucharistic prayer should not be “pitched” only to the baptized and catechized but to all persons. If Christ is made truly present through eucharistic prayer for every person and all people, then it’s all the more important to explicitly state the relationship of events within the paschal mystery. The ongoing challenge in the interpretation of ancient Latin prayer is to bridge Latin and vernacular idiom. This challenge will certainly require attention for many years to come.

      1. Overnalysis may be like analogy, it finds the meaning it seeks. I try not to worry about it and just go with it…

        Not to belabor the point about capitalization, but that is the problem I struggle with in the “tam…” clause we are discussing. The ICEL translation has “Resurrection” and “Ascension,” which evokes already known concepts that might be related. The Latin uses the words to speak of “rising from below to ascend into the heavens.” Same words, but the connected motion is lost when reified into Capitalized Nouns. The phrases might affirm a credal statement, but do they capture the liturgical lifting up to the Lord? That lift was built into the creed, but we lose it too easily when we read it as a list of doctrines and not as an affirmation of a faith that moves us.

  7. Very glad to find someone who agrees with me about the pious capitalization. Thank you, Fr. Anthony! The practice is very distracting, as the author and/or editor keeps seeming to show off his or her devotion in making sure absolutely every related pronoun is capitalized. It’s odd English usage, and I’m sorry to see it done in so many new publications.

    Surely, rather than capitalizing It when referring to the Blessed Sacrament, one could refrain from pronounizing and instead repeat the full capitalized noun if one wants to show piety!

  8. I agree that capitalisation has become a sort of shibboleth for proclaiming one’s “identity” — rather like saying “assisting at Mass” instead of “going to Mass.”

    Once you start capitalising, where do you stop? Is it disrespectful to write, “The pope drinks espresso after lunch and whisky after dinner”? Some people capitalise virtually everything — “The Priest walked up to the Altar…”

    The capitalisation clause from Liturgiam Authenticam §33 seems incredibly stupid to me: “The use of capitalization in the liturgical texts of the Latin editiones typicae as well as in the liturgical translation of the Sacred Scriptures, for honorific or otherwise theologically significant reasons, is to be retained in the vernacular language at least insofar as the structure of a given language permits.”

    Does this mean that if the Latin text doesn’t capitalise a particular term that a German speaker would capitalise, it should be run in lowercase to reflect the Latin usage? Or does it simply mean that more capitalisation is better than less?

  9. I confess that I have not read anything in the past two decades or more on the subject of grammatical and/or syntactical analysis. So perhaps I should not comment when the author (in 1a) refers to “tui” as a pronoun (instead of, as I think, a pronominal adjective). Also, I don’t know if “dative clause” (in 3a) is accepted terminology or not. But why “clause”? And why not, simply, “indirect object”?

    I spotted several other terms that did not seem right to me. But what I question most of all is the statement of the author in his second paragraph: “This series of investigations culminates in a conclusory reflection on the conflation of the transitional particles igitur and unde into “therefore” across all four eucharistic prayers. Has this translation strategy adequately conveyed the transition from memorial acclamation to anamnesis given the very different imagery used in each anaphora?” (I’m not sure the author meant to say “conclusory” instead of “concluding,” since the former term connotes a conclusion or assertion for which no supporting evidence is offered.)

    These two sentences express the purpose of the investigation, the author’s “thesis,” if you will. But I wonder why there needs to be some identifiable “translation strategy” on the part of ICEL because the translators chose to translate “unde” in EP I and IV and “igitur” in EP II and III the same: as “therefore.” Certainly one is justified in translating the two terms the same, or am I missing something?

    As to the author’s question, “Has this translation strategy adequately conveyed the transition from memorial acclamation to anamnesis,” why would one even posit that this is part of the “translation strategy” if ICEL itself has never stated that it did, in fact, have such a strategy? And even if ICEL had decided that it would begin all four of the memorial prayers in the four EP’s with “Therefore” being the first word, why would this have been to “convey the transition” to which the author refers? (And why could not the opening WORDS of the memorial prayers have been “Therefore, O Lord,” as they are in EP 1, III, IV, but not EP II, if there had been some conscious translation strategy?)

    Finally, the desire to show that the conjunctions at the beginning of the four memorial prayers have some connection to the memorial acclamations which precede those prayers is, IMO, all the more questionable when one considers the case of EP I: the “unde et” was right there in the prayer countless centuries before any memorial acclamation was added.

  10. As far as publishing style and capitalization is concerned, standard practice for many years has been minimum capitalization. Historically this dates back to the days of hot metal typsetting, when using lower case letters was cheaper because they did not consume as much metal. Similarly the largescale omission of full stops in abbreviations was also of cumulative economic benefit to publishers, though it is interesting that the US never followed this practice to the same extent as their English counterparts in Europe. Minimum capitalization practice extended to pronouns relating to persons of the deity for many years without anyone raising a voice in protest, so far as I am aware.

    Aesthetically, minimum capitalization gives a cleaner appearance to any text, and makes it easier to read. To anyone accustomed to modern publishing practice, the excessive capitalization employed in the Missal texts, GIRM, as well as in devotional material, etc, is a huge noise factor. Every time you encounter a capital letter, the flow of your reading is interrupted, as the natural inclination is to slow down and emphasize the capitalized word in an exaggerated fashion. In some cases, this slowing-down could be a good thing, of course, but when capitalization is used to excess the result is not only a stilted assimilation of the text but also a stilted delivery of it. Bread, Chalice, Death and Resurrection in a short space result in jerky reading.

    In this respect, as in so many others, Liturgiam Authenticam appears to be attempting to put the clock back to some Golden Age which, in fact, no longer exists, if indeed it ever did. Given that capitalization is largely a matter of publishing practice rather than theological exactitude, it should be easy for publishers to find ways of disregarding the current strictures on the grounds that they do not represent standard practice, let alone the publisher’s house style, rather in the same way that the selection of fonts is not a matter that should come within the ambit of ecclesiastical competence.

  11. Well stated, Jonathan and Paul, but ICEL seems to give a deaf ear to this argument. The capitalization practices of ICEL and the USA’s liturgy secretariat — and I think the BCDW actually initiated the excessive use of caps — makes our liturgical books look cluttered.

    I cannot imagine that no publisher of the revised missal translation back in early 2011 did not raise this issue either with their national liturgical office or with ICEL.

  12. I neither laud nor am put off by what is labelled by some as ‘excessive capitalisation’. This is merely to suggest that is there, perhaps, a perceived need in our day and time to draw attention to the amplified meaning and special signification of words given the ‘capital treatment’? I don’t believe that this is mere diletantism. Too, just because a practice went out of literary style 15 or 400 years ago is no reason that it cannot come usefully back into style. For me, it is almost ‘second nature’ sometimes to capitalise nouns that are of particular significance. It just seems appropriate.

    I am, though, intrigued and informed by Paul Inwood’s remarks about the economics-driven reasons behind
    print styles. Interesting, too, that our German cousins were never bothered by the extra metal and ink it took to capitalise nouns.

  13. Slip of the finger on the keyboard! You comment on “ab inferis resurrectionis”. Then in 2c and 2d this thrice mutates to “ab infernis”. Maybe not a lot of difference …

  14. re: Jonathan Day on May 30, 2012 – 4:07 am

    Jonathan you are on the right path with regard to St. Gregory and unde. St. Gregory’s homilies are filled with examples of unde etiam (etiam, “also”). He most commonly uses the phrase before a scripture quotation. His exegesis of the quotation almost always follows. Consider St. Gregory’s fourth Sunday of Advent homily on John 1:19 — 28 (Vulgate, NRSV), where St. John the Baptist confesses that he is unfit to untie a sandal of the Lord.

    “[…] Unde etiam per Prophetam dicit: In Idumaeam extendam calceamentum meum. [Ps. 59:10 Vulgate, Ps. 60:8 NRSV] Per Idumaeam quippe gentilitas, per calceamentum vero assumpta mortalitas designatur. In Idumaeam ergo Dominus calceamentum suum se extendere asserit, quia dum per carnem gentibus innotuit, quasi calceata ad nos divinitas venit.” (Gregorius I, “Homilia VII, Lectio S. Evang. Sec. Joan. I, 19-28”, Patrologia Latina, 1456.3) [My ellipses, additions in brackets]

    “For example [unde etiam, lit. “whence”, “hence”] it is said by the prophet: ‘I will extend my sandal into Edom [Idumaea].’ Certainly the people throughout Edom, indeed as death was deserved, are marked by a sandal. For this reason the Lord intends to stretch his sandal himself into Edom, because he has become known to the nations through flesh just as divinity, shod in a shoe, comes for us.” [my additions in brackets]

    unde etiam not only marks off scriptural quotation but also gestures towards commentary on a verse or verses. quippe (“certainly”), vero (“indeed”), and ergo (“for this reason”) also define Gregory’s rhetoric. Not one of these terms, however, begins an exegetical argument in the manner of unde etiam.

  15. Mgr Bruce Harbert: The CDWDS guidelines for capitalisation are given in the Ratio Translationis pages 117ff. See

    This is presumably why the ICEL Green Book of the Rite of Marriage, to name but one example, insists on a capital ‘P’ for Priest when the Latin text resolutely has a lower-case ‘s’ for sacerdos (except when that word occurs at the beginning of a sentence, obviously).

    In other words, the capitalization list in the Ratio Translationis is at odds with the principle that capitalization and punctuation in the English should follow capitalization and punctuation in the Latin.

    Quis custodet…? etc.

    1. In pre-August 2010 versions of the revised English translation of the Order of Mass, Memorial Acclamation A was “We proclaim your death, O Lord….”, and Acclamation B also had “…we proclaim your death, O Lord…”.

      Acclamation A was changed in the revision issued in August 2010 to “We proclaim your Death, O Lord….”, presumably because someone had spotted that the Latin contains a capitalized “Mortem”. But the only reason it has a capital letter at that point in the text is because it occurs at the beginning of a sentence ! The English translation of the word (+ mors, mortis, etc) was then also capitalized in Acclamation B and the Eucharistic Prayers generally, presumably for consistency, despite the fact that in every other case the Latin has a lower-case ‘m’.

  16. I would like to add a different angle to this very interesting discussion.

    I do not agree that “offerimus” refers to the “servi tui” and the “plebs tua sancta” together. But before I explain my reasons, I would like to point out that the whole “Unde et memores” passage is a classical example of the Periodic sentence structure found in the works of Cicero and Livy. As such, it contains several subordinate clauses leading to a conclusion that is hidden until the end of the sentence.

    If we start at the beginning, we will see that “memores” applies to the “servi” and the “plebs” who are “mindful”, but not on a basis of equality. There is a distinction between them which is implied in “sed et”: “sed” is derived from “se-” (separate), as befits the distinct roles of the clergy and the laity in the Mass (the former offering and the latter being associated spiritually with the offering.) Otherwise, the word “atque” or “quoque” would have been used to denote people of a similar kind.

    Next, we move on to the pronoun “nos.” This unusual use of a pronoun in Latin emphasizes the real subject of the sentence (“servi tui”) which therefore governs the verb “offerimus”.

    To recap: there is no syntactical link between the “servi tui” and the “plebs tua sancta” which would include the latter in the offering of the “Hostiam puram”. Together they may “be mindful” of the sacred mysteries (i.e. they participate in them spiritually through prayer) but only the priest has an active participation in celebrating the Mass.

    I hope this helps. Any comments?

    1. @Dr Carol Byrne:

      Dr Byrne, thank you for your clarification of and contribution to my article. I was not aware of the nuance between et and sed et. The isolation of the clergy and the laity in the act of offering did not cross my mind as a possibility. I should have consulted a reference dictionary before writing that section of the article.

      Thank you for also making more clear the relationship between nos and servi tui as the subject. I did not take pains to make clear this very simple point. Grammatically, plebs tua sancta cannot be part of this subject syntactically or, as you note, in a semantic sense. Perhaps the use of sed et is designed to emphasize the nos servi tui alone is the grammatical subject, unless one is tempted to conflate servi tui and plebs tua sancta, as I was tempted.

  17. P.S. Oh, and another thing – I forgot to mention that there is a colon placed just before the word “offerimus” which seems to form a line of demarcation between “memores” in the first clause and “offerimus” in the second clause. The colon is not without significance. For not all of the people in the first clause to whom “memores” refers are included in the “offerimus” – only the “servi tui” who actually perform the oblation.

    1. @Dr Carol Byrne:
      Mrs. Byrne, I have been trying to get a hold of you for years. You have written a series of articles AGAINST active vocal and audible participation of the laity in the Holy Mass – beginning with In this article and the next, you present your “evidence” for your claim that “Pius X Did Not Call for
      ‘Active Participation’ in Liturgy”!

      But the only “evidence” you present is to argue that in the Latin version, the key words (participatio, apud populum, vehementius, mos maiorum, rursus participes) most closely corresponding to the key words of the Italian version (participazione attiva, nell’uso del popolo, parte più attiva, anticamente) often used to support the idea of active vocal participation in the divine liturgy simply do not support the concept of active participation, nor the closely related idea that the true litmus test and determining factor of this active participation is the audible and public vocalization by the laity.

      Unfortunately, you forget that absence of evidence does not imply evidence of absence. On the contrary, I have evidence from Pius X’s own life even before the writing of TLS / Motu Proprio that Pius X’s TRUE motive was indeed to call for active participation in the liturgy, and furthermore it was his earnest conviction that there can never be ANY active participation in the divine liturgy except by means of the audible and public vocalization by the laity.

      “In the courses of parochial instruction or on other suitable occasions, they (the parish priests of Rome) must expound the Holy Father’s lofty purpose in reforming sacred music and invite the faithful to second their endeavors, chiefly by taking an active part in the sacred functions, singing the Common of the Mass as well as the psalms, the well-known liturgical hymns and the hymns of the vulgar tongue.” Regulations for Sacred Music in the Province of Rome, Pp. Pius X, February 2, 1912

      “This is what must be urged – the Gregorian…

    2. Dr. Byrne, You are still persisting in your malicious lies against “active participation” in the Holy Mass. In your Session 68: Preparing for the Novus Ordo Missae (see … gue_68.htm for the source), you write: “3 Ibid., § 12. We must briefly mention the popular reports of a letter, bandied around the internet, allegedly written by Pius X, before he became Pope, to Bishop Callegari of Padua. In it, he is quoted as favoring congregational singing in the liturgy even above polyphony. There are several different versions of the letter, each purporting to be the original text, and these are put forward as “proof.” But no archival source is given with which to verify the authenticity of the letter.

      Further research reveals that the letter originated from Pius X’s early biographers who each added their own creative interpretation to support their subjective idea of what the Pope must have said, so that the final telling is, as in the children’s game of Chinese Whispers, a complete distortion. Thus, a false “authority” is created to support an ideological position.”

      There are three malicious lies you have told in that passage. First of all, you dodged the issue of the letter of Pius X to Bishop/Monsignor Callegari of Padua concerning congregational singing by not printing it out in full. Secondly, in your objection that “no archival source is given with which to verify the authenticity of the letter”, you are still committing the fallacy of mistaking absence of proof for proof of absence. Thirdly, you are still CONTINUING to IGNORE vital pieces of evidence showing just how virtually EVERY diocese of the so-called Roman Catholic Church launched a MASSIVE HEROIC CRUSADE to restore congregational singing into the Holy Mass, which can be found in The Gregorian Review, Volume V, Number 2, Mar/Apr 1958, pages 24-27 (for the source, see … /gr_52.pdf), and which shows that the weight of evidence is in favor of “active participation”.

  18. Dr Byrne, I find it difficult to set aside the impression that you didn’t begin with an analysis of the Latin, but rather with strong prior views that “the ‘plebs’ … do not enjoy parity of esteem with the clergy in the proceedings” or that “only the priest has an active participation in celebrating the Mass.” In any case, I don’t find your analysis convincing.

    The issue is: what is the subject of offerimus? Is it simply the priest? Or the priest and the altar servers? Or the priest, the other ministers at the altar, and the entire people of God?

    First, as to sed et: doesn’t this usually convey “as well as” rather than “and, but not equally”, as you seem to be suggesting? In the context of non solum … sed et[iam] it is almost always translated “not only … but also”. But even without the non solum, virtually every translation of this passage that I have come across renders sed et as something like “also”, “and” or “likewise”. Yes, there might be a vague sense of separation here – though, as you suggest, it seems difficult to put this into English. But the more probable conclusion, especially if you aren’t starting from a parti pris about the lower esteem in which we are to hold the laity, is that dozens of translators, even including [sed etiam] the butchers of ICEL/Vox Clara, got it right.

    On nos: could you please explain why the pronoun couldn’t include both the servi and the plebs sancta? Or would that only work if sed et meant “and” rather than “but not equally”? Can’t a plural personal pronoun have both a singular and a plural antecedent? That’s certainly possible in English: “We, the deans and the vice-chancellor of this university, enthusiastically support the proposal.” Is it never possible in Latin? I’d value enlightenment here.

    Finally, and to me this is the most important issue – this is a “periodic” comment, you see – if you make servi tui the sole subject of offerimus, then you have a plebs sancta wandering around in the sentence, or perhaps sitting in the nave reciting rosaries, a nominative unattached to any verb. Without leaving the plebs out of the prayer entirely, how would you render it into clear, even if non-idiomatic, English?

  19. Jonathan Day, to answer your questions: first, it would be useful to distinguish between the use of two types of conjunctions in Latin: (a) the copulative (et, atque, ac, quoque, etiam, etc. meaning “and/also”) and (b) the adversative (sed et, sed etiam etc. meaning and “even/going so far as to include”).

    (a) is used to link things or persons of a similar kind e.g. Quam laudant angeli atque archangeli, cherubim quoque ac seraphim; Benedicta sit Sancta Trinitas atque indivisa unitas
    (b) is used to express contrariety, opposition, or antithesis and as such implies a contrast in thought e.g. Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae, sed et cunctae familiae tuae

    In the Unde et memores there is a marked distinction between the role of the ordained ministers in the Mass and that of the lay faithful. This is not a parti pris of mine. As Pope Pius XII explained, to offer the sacrifice of the Mass is “the privilege only of the minister who has been divinely appointed to this office”, and they do so in a visible liturgical rite. The lay folk make their own offerings in an internal, spiritual way.

    My point was that to translate sed et simply by “and” does nothing to capture the distinction implied in the phrase.

    As for sed et(iam) without non solum, you say it means “also, likewise”, but you do not provide examples. Etiam and quoque are different in their meaning, as in the first place, etiam has a wider extent than quoque, for it contains also the idea of our “even;” and, secondly, etiam adds a new circumstance, whereas quoque denotes the addition of a thing of a similar kind or in a similar context. (In the Tantum ergo: salus, honor, virtus quoque sit et benedictio )

    To illustrate the meaning, Cicero in one of his letters to Atticus wrote: Hic mihi primum consilium meum defuit, sed etiam obfuit. He lamented that his political judgement had failed him and even worked against him. (In old fashioned English, sed etiam would have been rendered as “nay, even)

    To be continued…

  20. [continued]
    About nos: in Latin the personal pronoun is not used except to place special emphasis on the person. The servi are therefore distinguished from the plebs tua sancta not only in relation to the action offerimus, but also by means of the colon which precedes it. It is true that the plebs tua sancta is also in the nominative, but the reason for that is to connect them with the servi insofar as they are all memores. Not all nominatives are substantives and do not have to be attached to a verb. In this case, memores is an adjective qualifying the servi and the plebs.

    If they were both subjects of the verb, it would have been more straightforward to drop the nos and use the 3rd person plural. Whichever way you look at it, we cannot ignore the significance of the emphatic nos and the adversative sed et.

    Finally, it is not my place to translate the Missal and I would not like to go where angels fear to tread. Caveat ICEL.

    1. @Dr Carol Byrne:
      You would not translate the Missal and angels fear to tread there? Caveat ICEL? The Roman Catholic church does believe in translating the Missal for the sake of vernacular liturgy, so this comment is puzzling.

      It’s also significant that you quote Pius XII as if it is definitive – but Roman Catholics accept the magisterium of the Second Vatican Council and the Popes in office since then. Your quotation of him makes me suspect that you’re starting from his theological position as if it is final, and this is influencing your translation work. But I’d also look at postconciliar teachings of the magisterium for a Catholic understanding of who offers Mass – apart from how to translate EP I accurately.

  21. Drawing conclusions from punctuation is inappropriate since systematic punctuation came late to the world of manuscripts. It is clear from this discussion that the choice of the punctuation in many cases seems to have been determined by a prior theological position rather than the rhetorical flow.
    The shape of the Roman Canon was influenced by the vigorous Roman tradition of public rhetoric. The only way that the phrase, “nos servi tui sed et plebs tua sancta ” would be actually heard by those in the church would be as ” we (who are) your servants but also your holy people.” I started learning Latin in 1958 and taught it for more than twenty years–including teaching Cicero’s orations in an oral method. That is the rhetorical flow.
    Later in the Roman Canon occurs the sentence “Memento…omnium circumstantium,…qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis,” “Remember all those standing around who offer to you this sacrifice of praise.” Again it is clear that everyone present is offering. (The other complications in that passage are explicated in Jungmann’s “Mass of the Roman Rite” p. 223.)
    This reminds me of the claim that in the “Orate, fratres” the phrase “meum ac vestrum sacrificium,” “the sacrifice which is mine but also yours” describes two different sacrifices being enacted. Again, not only would the grammar and the rhetoric have to be stretched to justify that position, but Jungmann also points out there were alternative versions of this text, including “meum pariterque vestrum,’ “mine and equally yours.” (Mass of the Roman rite, pp. 82-5.) In that context it is interesting to note that the direct address was also frequently to “fratres et sorores,” “brothers and sisters.”

    1. This reminds me of the claim that in the “Orate, fratres” the phrase “meum ac vestrum sacrificium,” “the sacrifice which is mine but also yours” describes two different sacrifices being enacted. Again, not only would the grammar and the rhetoric have to be stretched to justify that position, but Jungmann also points out there were alternative versions of this text, including “meum pariterque vestrum,’ “mine and equally yours.” (Mass of the Roman rite, pp. 82-5.) In that context it is interesting to note that the direct address was also frequently to “fratres et sorores,” “brothers and sisters.”

      I seem to recall a Pray Tell thread quite some time ago in which meum ac vestrum was analysed. Why was it not meum et vestrum?, etc. The answer was that ac is more strongly connective than the simple et, and therefore the translation needs to convey the idea of “my-and-your sacrifice”, i.e. one sacrifice which is simultaneously mine and yours, rather than two different sacrifices. In English, the hyphens would not be audible, of course, and without them the phrase “my and your” would sound a little strange. The obvious solution, which ICEL previously adopted, was “our sacrifice”.

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