Catholic Missals - New Order of Mass 2011 - some questions answered

Posted by Les Ellison  ·  Be the first to comment

On the first Sunday of Advent, The New Roman Catholic Order of Mass (Missal) became the standard text for the Celebration of the Mass in Roman Catholic churches of the English speaking world.

The New Order of Mass is the Third Edition English translation and replaces that used in Roman Catholic churches since 1975.

The New Order Missal, including The Gloria, Creed, Eucharistic Prayers the people’s responses returns to a more literal (rather than equivalent) English translation of the original Latin.

Historical background

The First Edition Roman Missal, containing prayers, responses and ritual actions, for the Ordinary Form of Holy Mass was commissioned in the 1960s by Pope Paul VI.

Translation into English was only one part of making the Mass more relevant to ordinary people. Other changes were introduced to make the Mass more immediately understood and intimate. When the 1973 translation appeared, English became the normal language of the Mass. Even so, the Latin was never completely abandoned and remained available.
Minor revisions in 1975 failed to satisfy growing concerns that the English version lacked accuracy, doctrinal depth and connection with the original. In 2000, Pope John Paul II authorised an entirely new English translation to made directly from the Latin.

Increased theological depth

Translation from the Latin into the English of the First and Second Editions used a method known as ‘dynamic equivalence’.

Dynamic equivalence translates Latin words and phrases into the language of ordinary people. The method tries to give the overall present day the sense and meaning of the original but doesn’t necessarily translate with word-for-word accuracy.

Concerns were raised that dynamic equivalence had reduced the English translation’s connection with the original Latin and may have allowed inaccuracies to enter the text. Concerns that the attempt to be modern diminished the theological depth motivated the Holy See to draw up guidelines for a new English translation.

Authenticity in translation

Authorising the new translation, Pope John Paul II cautioned the bishops against undue haste. He warned that translating in a hurry would be like running with a cup full of coffee: the distance can be covered quickly, but much of the content will be lost.

Guidelines for the new translation were set down by the Second Vatican Council in a document called Liturgiam Authenticam. Authenticity to the original is the key feature of the new translation directly related to the decisions of Vatican II.

11 years, several committees, many language experts, a host of theologians, a series of reviews later, the first new English version of the Mass in nearly 40 years is ready for general use in English speaking Roman Catholic churches.

Down to earth and up to date

The First and Second editions of the Mass in English used a method, called “Dynamic Equivalence.” This approach sought to convey the modern feeling and meaning of the original Latin. The desire to create a text in the language of the people meant less attention to strict word-for-word translation.

The more down-to-earth and up-to-date style of this translation method changes the style and feel of the language. Combined with a more contemporary worship style, the overall effect is to make the Mass more accessible but possibly seeming to be less reverential.

For the Third edition, translators have returned to original Latin with the intention of recovering the sacred. Using more literal word-for-word methods transfers the responsibility for finding meaning and relevance from the translators to the celebrants and worshippers.

Encouraging active participation

The Second Vatican Council placed increasing emphasis on promoting the “active participation of the faithful in the sacred liturgy” This was always intended to be about much more than saying the responses and taking part in the prayers.

Active participation invites worshippers to share in the celebration of the sacred mysteries by developing the necessary “interior disposition”. Sacred signs – including the vessels, vestments, music and gestures of the Mass are considered essential to developing this interior disposition.

The new translation from the Latin returns the English to more ‘heightened’ English – not strictly the words and structure of everyday speech, but more suited to the purpose carrying the sacred into the heart of the worshipper.

In short, the New Order of Mass is intended to give the language that bears the sacred the same honour and reverence as those other signs and symbols that carry the meaning of the Mass.

Quick Guide to The New Roman Missal (Third Edition).

What is it?
•    The Roman Catholic New Order of Mass and English Translation beginning in Advent 2011.
•    The texts, music, prayers, readings and responses for celebrating the Roman Catholic Mass.
•    Available in special editions for Priests, concelebrants and private devotion.

Why should I buy it?
•    To support and equip Priests to celebrate the Roman Catholic Mass throughout the year.
•    To help individual worshippers follow and understand the New Order of Mass.
•    To provide all the textual and musical resources for the New Order of Mass.

Over to You

At you can find a truly interactive Christian community helping you find all you need to live, learn and grow your faith.

Sacred texts have a timeless power within them, though the language of the original often locks in that power. The use of language too has great potential, but its use and meaning develops changes. The translation method of dynamic equivalence was intended to bring the language of the Mass up-to-date and down-to-earth, even though some of the mystery in the original might be lost.

  • What do you think this is the right way to translate sacred texts, should it be word-for-word accurate or should the true of meaning be all important?
  • How do you think the translators should approach sacred words and rites, how can they make the Mass relevant to the lives of ordinary people? 

Tell us. Post your ideas, views and tips - bizarre and brilliant at 

22nd February

February 22nd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison

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