The New Missal: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Okay, for those who don’t have the full texts yet, here are this week’s from the new Roman Missal. They are still being used at daily mass, so it isn’t too late to take a look at them. Commentary follows (although don’t expect a Fr. Z!):

Entrance Antiphon:
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Ps 129:3-4
Lord, who could stand?
But with you is found forgiveness,
O God of Israel.

May your grace, O Lord, we pray,
at all times go before us and follow after
and make us always determined
to carry out good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer over the Offerings
Accept, O Lord, the prayers of your faithful
with the sacrificial offerings,
that, through these acts of devotedness,
we may pass over to the glory of heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon
The rich suffer want and go hungry, Cf. Ps 33:11
but those who seek the Lord lack no blessing.
When the Lord appears, we shall be like him, 1 Jn 3:2
for we shall see him as he is.

Prayer after Communion
We entreat your majesty most humbly, O Lord,
that, as you feed us with the nourishment
which comes from the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,
so you may make us sharers of his divine nature.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


Antiphona ad Introitum:
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Ps 129:3-4
Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiato est,
Deus Israel.

Tua nos, quaesumus, Domine, gratia
Semper et praeveniat et sequatur,
Ac bonis operibus
Iugiter praestet esse intentos.
Per Dominum…

Prayer over the Offerings
Suscipe, Domine, fidelium preces
Cum oblationibus hostiarum,
Us, per haec piae devotionis officia,
Ad caelestem gloriam transeamus.
Per Christum…

Communion Antiphon
Divites eguerunt et esurient, Cf. Ps 33:11
Quaerentes autem Dominum non minuentur omni bono.
Cum apparuerit Dominus, similes ei erimus, 1 Jn 3:2
Quoniam videbimus eum sicuti est.

Prayer after Communion
Maiestatem tuam, Domine, suppliciter deprecamur,
ut, sicut nos Corporis et Sanguinis sacrosancti pascis alimento,
ita divinae naturae facias esse consortes.
Per Christum…


Antiphona ad Introitum:
If you, O Lord, laid bare our guilt, Ps 129:3-4
who could endure it?
But you are forgiving,
God of Israel.

Lord, our help and guide,
make your love the foundation of our lives.
May our love for you express itself
in our eagerness to do good for others.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer over the Offerings
Lord, accept the prayers and gifts
we offer in faith and love.
May this eucharist bring us to your glory.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Communion Antiphon
The rich suffer want and go hungry, Cf. Ps 33:11
but nothing shall be lacking to those who fear the Lord.

When the Lord is revealed we shall be like him, 1 Jn 3:2
for we shall see him as he is.

Prayer after Communion
Almighty Father,
may the body and blood of your Son
give us a share in his life,
for he is Lord for ever and ever.


Blind Freddy can see that the new texts are closer to the Latin. Take the Post-Communion prayer as an example. Every word of the entire first line of the new Missal translation – “We entreat your majesty most humbly, O Lord” (except perhaps “we” and “your”) – was on the forbidden vocabulary list in the Old ICEL, so it was completely omitted in the earlier translation as so much useless guff. Note that old ICEL consistently repeated replaced “Domine” with “Father”. Christ’s Body and Blood (note the capitals) are “most holy” (remember that the adjective “holy” was dropped from the people’s offertory prayer). But most significantly, from a theological point of view, note how Old ICEL completely obscured the important Scriptural reference to the doctrine of theosis contained in 2 Peter 1:4: “sharers of the divine nature”.

We see the same thing in the “Prayer over the Offerings” (not “Gifts” any more). “Prayers and gifts we offer in faith and love” are now “the prayers of your faithful with the sacrificial offerings”. The language of “sacrifice”, so obviously present in the Latin offertory prayers, is restored in the new English translation. But I must say I love the phrase “these acts of devotedness” (translating “haec piae devotionis officia”). I am reminded of the comment of John MacDonald on the Blake Prize, how the judges would run a mile from anything that smacks of true religious devotion. I wonder if any of them were former members of the Old ICEL?

As for the Collect (bypassing the comparison to the old translation for the moment), I bet every priest who reads it puts an “us” on the end of the second line (as in “go before us and follow after us“). The celebrant at St Patrick’s Cathedral today did. I wasn’t surprised. But you can see the dilemma of the translators. The “us” is in the very first line in the Latin, and occurs only once. Two “us’s” in the English (as in “go before us and follow after us”) would, I think, surely have been too much. But where to stick the “us” in the English? Would it have been better to say “go before and follow after us”? You be the judge. Of course, the old ICEL completely misses this image entirely, and replaces it with “foundation” – which isn’t there at all. For that matter, note how “grace” in the old ICEL translation is replaced by “love”. Language of grace, as much as of merit, was almost completely omitted from the old translation of the Collects, leading to the accusatio of semi-Pelagianism. God’s grace goes before us and follows after us as we “intend” towards good works (the English “determined” misses that dynamic action a bit too…). For Fr Zuhlsdorf’s commentary, see here.

Finally, turning to the very interesting case of the new Entrance and Communion Antiphons. Fr Bosco Peters is certainly right: the new antiphons have been greatly affected by the Revised Grail Version of the Psalms. In part I can understand this: I have never been very happy with the discordance so often encountered in the Responsive Psalm when the Response is a verse from the Psalm itself, but appears in different translation than the verse. And yet this also points to a further point of interest: IF the Holy See did actually intentionally replace former strict translations from the Latin Antiphons with the corresponding passages from the Revised Grail, does this not point out that the Holy See wishes us to sing the antiphons together WITH the relevant and corresponding verses set down in the Graduale (or the Processional – note: Simple English Propers uses the Revised Grail Version for the psalm verses but not for the antiphons)?

And yet the translators have not completely abandoned attention to the Latin text in favour of the Scriptural (ie. Hebrew and Greek) text. That can be seen in the Entrance Antiphon. The Latin ends in “Deus Israel”, as does the new (and for that matter, the Old) English translation. But the Revised Grail of Psalm 130 (don’t forget to adjust the numbering) has:

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
LORD, who could stand?
But with you is found forgiveness,

that you may be revered.

The first Communion antiphon is another case in point, only in this case, it agrees with not only with the Latin of the Missal, but also with the Old ICEL antiphon, the Revised Grail, the Septuagint and the Vulgate – BUT NOT with the Hebrew or the original Grail – in giving “the rich” instead of “the young lions”. Just interesting something…

Another small aside, if you are still reading this far. Fr Peters complains that some verses of the Revised Grail appear to be “completely taken from NRSV. People: if you want NRSV use NRSV!” I’m not complaining. While I liked the singability of the Old Grail, I did miss my old familiarity with the KJV/RSV tradition that I grew up on (Douay Rheims folk can go and grumble in a corner for a bit). I don’t mind a return to this familiar vocabulary. A comparison of the alternate Communion Antiphon from 1 John 3:2 is interesting: it fits much more closely with the ESV than the RSV… Watch this space!

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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15 Responses to The New Missal: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

  1. Stephen K says:

    In matters of translation/composition, there is always a tension between word/meaning identicality and questions of presentability. So we get editions of poetical works that attempt to convey something of the original rhythmic or sonoral qualities of the original at the expense of replicating the original semantics or vocabulary, or editions that do the reverse. For the sake of convenience, let me call the first approach “paraphrasal” and the second “literal”. It’s no good resigning oneself to the shortfalls of translation and urging one to learn the original language since I imagine that few people ever attain the level of appreciation of their first language in a second or third (not to mention putting translators out of work).

    At different moments I think both approaches have their place. If I wish to translate something from a condensed, highly synthetic language (like Latin or Greek), I find I have to produce a very clunky word-for-word version to help me access and appreciate the kind and significance of mental architecture the author was using; only when I have done this can I feel I have “earned the stripes” to try to render it in euphonious English.

    But there’s no doubt that I prefer reading and reciting aloud a Lincoln’s Gettysburg address to a technically correct Instruction booklet for a modern appliance. My own view – and it is just that, not a dogma – is that, whatever their technical deficiencies, the old ICEL prayers had a pleasing modern rhythm to the ear. And, bearing in mind David’s mention of the quality of sing-ability, I will always prefer the Old Grail version of the Psalms (even to say).

    • Schütz says:

      I don’t think you can argue that the Old ICEL texts in any way preserved the “rhythmic or sonoral qualities of the original ” let alone “the original semantics or vocabulary”. That being said, I think a translation – to be honestly that – must at least incorporate all the essential elements of the original and not leave anything out for ideological reasons. That’s my main beef with the Old ICEL – it deliberately left entire parts of the original out for no other reason than they didn’t like the ideas they conveyed. The clearest case of this is the stand out ommission of the word “holy” in the phrase “holy Church” in the prayer “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands”. Why would you do that, unless you had some ideological bias against the word “holy”? It isn’t a difficult word. It isn’t even an unusual word to be heard in prayer. So why? To say it was a “dynamic” equivalence tranlsation rather than a “formal” equivalence translation won’t get around it. It just isn’t equivalent.

      • Stephen K says:

        It’s interesting, David, how easily the nuances of one person’s idea can be lost by Chinese whispers when the reader uses different words or the writer is not careful. Take for example where I said that some poetical translations “attempt to convey something” of the original rhythmic or sonoral qualities of the original. (I was thinking of the Neville Coghill translation of The Canterbury Tales, not the ICEL translation.) You responded to the idea of “preserving” said qualities. It’s a different thing, even if by not a great chasm. But of course I see that I made the error of saying “of the original” twice, and for the purposes of my proposition, the first was both redundant and incorrect – I certainly don’t think the ICEL version “preserves” the original rhythmic or sonoral qualities of the Latin. But I did say that I thought that it presented a flowing modern rhythm to the ear. The piling of adjectives onto nouns seems to work fine in Latin, but can sound excessive in modern English. And there is some merit and beauty, I think, in the old k.i.s.s. principle.

        But the central issue for you is that, as you suggest, you see the old ICEL version as a deliberate doctrinal dilution, But for all intents and purposes, this means doctrinal difference, which probably means doctrinal heresy, which probably means Sin, in particular, sin-against-the-Church. At least that’s how it is logically concluded by some. Do you take your attitude to the same end? I’m unsure whether you see the old ICEL version as something distasteful by its very creation and existence, as opposed to mere questions of form, and if so, how you feel about your having participated with and used the old ICEL version prior to the new. Some people in the original Latin Mass movements, from the very beginning, would have rather gone to prison than attend the ‘English’ Mass (i.e. any version other than the full Latin OF).

        There’s a certain logic to all this: and I suppose it is just the same for those who would refuse to attend a Latin Mass on principle, because of the motives and purposes of those celebrating and promoting it. And of course there are also many who are happy or at least undisturbed to attend any Mass form or version, because arguments about what is taught is a sacrament of paschal Love seem somehow truly perverse.

        • Stephen K says:

          Oops! I meant “the full Latin EF”. (Should’ve stuck to “Tridentine”!)

        • Schütz says:

          I regard the loss in translation of Old ICEL as “unfortunate” and “unwise”, and now corrected. It wouldn’t be the first time when “unfortunate” and “unwise” actions have been foisted on the Church! I certainly don’t push Old ICEL into the “sin” or “heresy” or “invalid” corner. I do see it as a “deliberate dilution”, but I believe that delution was due to the unfortunate attitudes of the translaters, not their “heresy”.

        • PM says:

          Rather than a flowing modrn rhythm, the 1970s version has always struck me as flat and prosaic. By dismembering sentences containing relative clauses, it also takes the faintly ridiculous form of giving the Almighty information about himself (‘Lord, you do X. Now do Y’).

          The pelagianising tendency is particulaly bad in the 1973 collects (see for example the detailed analysis by the historian Eamon Duffy), but we have a classic also in the prefaces. ‘Vere dignum, justum, aequm et salutare…’, now rendered in the new translation as ‘it is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation….’, became itn the 1970s version ‘we do well’ – aren’t we good little vegemites!

          • Stephen K says:

            I suppose, as to rhythm, in the end it will be a case of ‘de gustibus non disputandum’. The phrase “we do well, always and everywhere, to…..” is an example of what I call a pleasing modern rhythm.

            Whether this is a good example of pelagian thinking, I’m not so sure. I don’t think that any statement about what we do or how we do it is necessarily reflective of thinking that we can earn grace or supernatural life; often it is just a recognition that it is a good thing for us to do x or y, and I think this is all that “we do well….etc” is intended to say, just like “vere dignum et justum est…” Of course the English is a paraphrase, but to say it’s pelagian or self-congratulatory is, I think, to read too much into it.

            • Schütz says:

              When people say the ommission of “grace” from the Collects was “Pelagian”, they don’t mean “thinking that we can earn grace or supernatural life”. Many of the collects ask God to “give us grace so that” something or other. Leaving out that phrase could suggest that we are telling God we are going to try to do “something or other” off our own bat. “Give us grace” reminds us that he is the Author of all good works etc.

  2. John Nolan says:

    Neither Communion Antiphon corresponds with that in the Graduale, which is from Psalm 118: Aufer a me opprobrium et contemptum, quia mandata tua exquisivi, Domine: nam et testimonia tua meditatio mea est. I know that the Missal antiphons are intended for use at a said Mass, but those who attempt to use the new Missal at a sung Mass, which is intended to be normative, will find the disjunct annoying. This will be so even if the Propers are sung in English (as in the SEPs and the soon-to-be published Graduale Parvum which we are pushing hard in the UK, which gives them in English and Latin).

    The old ICEL’s refusal to translate ‘gratia’ as ‘grace’ always led me to assume that they didn’t believe in the concept. For a devastatingly accurate critique of the now superseded translation, see the report of the CDW when they kicked the proposed 1998 Sacramentary into touch. It gives the lie to the oft-heard moan that they didn’t really understand English. I have one issue with the new Oratio super Oblata. ‘Devotio’ means ‘devotion’. I have never heard the noun ‘devotedness’, let alone used it.

    • Stephen K says:

      Hi John, I’m puzzled as to why you say the ICEL version never translated ‘gratia’ as ‘grace’. It did so in the Introductory Greeting “The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ…etc”. Elsewhere in at least two places, “grace” would have been odd or inappropriate: in the Gloria “gratias agimus” and in the Prefatory prayers “gratias agamus”. Here, “giving thanks” seems to be entirely correct, and was rendered this way in the old Missals.

      It’s also probably a stretch to suggest the translators did not believe in the concept: judging by the way theological ideas are often spoken about, I’ve come to the conclusion we all – including traditionalists – tend to lurch between pelagian thinking and its opposite, which I put down to the fact that there’s a lot of paradox involved in the concepts of how a relationship with God works.

      As far as “devotedness” is concerned, I personally have heard and used it, and so has the Shorter Oxford. I’m not sure which ICEL example you have in mind but the rendering of “devotio” from the First Eucharistic Prayer’s “quorum tibi fides cognita est et nota devotio” as “dedicate ourselves”, seems to me to be an acceptable equivalent of “devotedness”, “devotion” or “dedication”, all denoting a similar idea. Do you yourself think there’s an appreciable difference here, and if so, why?

      Don’t misunderstand me: to paraphrase Henri IV, Paris is worth a translated word or two!

      • Schütz says:

        I think you are right on the “devotio” issue, Stephen. The idea was indeed not just to find the corresponding English to the Latin form, but the corresponding English to the Latin meaning.

        As for “grace”, it was properly there in the Ordinary of the Mass, but left out repeatedly in the translation of the Collects. The translation of the Ordo and the Propers were two separate projects in original ICEL, as far as I understand, and could well have been done by different translators.

    • Schütz says:

      Yes, that is interesting, isn’t it? I suspect this is not the only case where the Roman Missal differs from the Gradual. But this isn’t with just the “new missal”, but a disjunction between the Gradual and the original First Typical Edition of the Reformed Roman Missal. I note that SEP uses the Gradual communion antiphon, but that the new Processional Book of the England and Wales Bishops Conference gives the Missal antiphon.

      And yes, it is hard to see why they didn’t just use “devotion” – although “devotion” can fail sometimes to communicate the exact act of “being devoted” in today’s religious parlance (it can just mean “a spiritual act” such as prayer), so perhaps that is why they went with the more pointed if awkward “devotedness”.

    • Schütz says:

      Josh helpfully sent me a link to this article by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby:

      Dom Kirby says:

      To my mind, one of the most urgent tasks of what has been called The Reform of the Reform is the suppression of the provision for an alius cantus aptus, and the restoration of the traditional texts of the Proper of the Mass, taking care, at the same time, that the texts given in the Missale Romanum correspond to those in the Graduale Romanum. (I would also argue for the restoration of the text of the Offertorium [Offertory Antiphon] to the editio typica of the reformed Missale Romanum.) The replacement, in the current Missale Romanum of the venerable sung texts of the Graduale Romanum with texts destined to be read, was an innovation without precedent, and a mistake with far reaching and deleterious consequences for the Roman Rite.

      I don’t quite agree – I think the most urgent task is to start singing the chants that are available, whether in the Graduale or the Missal. I think this will itself start the impetus toward a tightening up of the current chaos in this area in the direction Dom Kirby suggests.

  3. John Nolan says:

    Using ‘devotedness’ for ‘devotion’ is akin to using ‘hotness’ for ‘heat’ on the grounds that the latter also means the preliminary stage of a race. Not good English, I’m afraid. The advantage of the new Graduale Parvum is that the antiphons are set to authentic (since based on Office antiphons) yet simple Gregorian melodies. It is largely the work of the late Laszlo Dobszay who would have agreed with Dom Kirby that the ‘alius cantus aptus’ option needs to be rescinded if genuine progress is to be made.

    David, regarding the Offertory antiphon, I can’t offer a complete explanation for its non-inclusion in the MR but can make the following observations. In the usus antiquior it is the only Proper antiphon which is said inaudibly by the priest. It is also preceded by an (audible) Oremus, unlike the other antiphons. The first draft of the Novus Ordo suppressed the entire Offertory rite apart from the Oratio super Oblata or Secret. Paul VI intervened at the last minute and restored the In spiritu humilitatis and Orate Fratres. (Bugnini & co. thought the references to sacrifice might alienate Protestants). Secondly, the antiphon is not often sung in either form of the Mass. This is partly because although it looks fairly straightforward on paper, it is quite tricky to sing. At this point in the Mass the choir likes to sing a motet, or the organist wants to strut his stuff. Poor chap, it’s the only time he has a captive audience, since few are willing to hang around for the recessional (except, of course, in Paris).

    • Stephen K says:

      I have to disagree with you, John, when you say that “devotedness” is “not good English”. It’s in the Dictionary. It has its meaning which is arguably a less ambiguous equivalent of “devotio”. Just because “devotion” is more familiar to you, or more traditional, does not make it “better” English. What qualifies language as good is ultimately whether it conveys its meaning clearly. Read Fowler’s ‘The King’s English’ and you will find condemnation of affected complexity or misuse of wrong words which have completely different meanings everywhere, but no condemnation of using acceptable forms of words simply because they are not so usual. The analogy you cite with “hotness” and “heat” does not help you. “Heat” and “devotion” can both mean different things, but “devotedness” means “self-dedication” or “attachment” firmly and squarely. And surely this makes it an apt translation of what “devotio” means in the context where it occurs.

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