We are just two and a half months away from November 27th and the First Sunday of Advent. It is on that Sunday that the entire English speaking Catholic world will begin to use the new English translation of the Roman Missal at Mass. Although the order of the Mass is not changing, some of the words and phrases that we pray and sing together as an assembly will be different from the words we have become used to over the past forty years. Similarly, many of the familiar prayers said by the priest will sound different as well in the new translation.
In addition to these changes in the texts themselves, this new translation also makes it possible for priests, deacons and the assembly to intone the prayers, acclamations and dialogues of the Mass using simple chant tones which have been carefully matched to the newly translated texts.
The purpose of this new translation is to provide us with text that more literally translates into English the Latin original of the Roman missal.
There are eight major changes to familiar Mass texts that everyone in the assembly will immediately notice on that first Sunday in Advent. (For comparison’s sake, those words or phrases that will change in the current translation are in italic type and words or phrases that have been changed in the new translation are in boldface type.)
Dialogue between the priest/deacon
Current translation: The Lord be with you. R/. And also with you.
New translation: The Lord be with you. R./ And with your spirit.
Penitential Act (Confiteor)
Current translation: I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, every virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and my sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
New translation: I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary, every virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and my sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
Current translation: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
New translation: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. Lord God, heavenly King, we praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father. Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Profession of Faith (Creed)
There is not enough space here to look at all of the small changes in the wording of the Nicene Creed, however, these four changes are the most noticeable.
Current: We believe / New: I believe
Current: all that is seen and unseen / New: all things visible and invisible.
Current: one in Being with the Father/ New: consubstantial with the Father
Current: by the power of the Holy Spirit he [Jesus] was born of the Virgin Mary. New: by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary.
Current: Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. R./ It is right to give him thanks and praise.
New: Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. R./ It is right and just.
Current: Holy, holy, holy Lord. God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory, etc… / New: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory, etc…
The current translation provides four options for the Memorial Acclamation. The new translation eliminates one entirely: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, and modifies the remaining three. This, for example, is how the first option for the Memorial Acclamation has been changed: Current: Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life, Lord Jesus, come in glory.
New: We proclaim your Death, O Lord and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
Dialogue before Holy Communion
Current: Priest: This is
the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
R./ Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. But only say the word and I shall be healed.
New: Priest: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb. R/. Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
It will take some time for us to become accustomed to this new translation. Especially challenging for many of us will be those parts of the Mass that we have come to know and to sing by heart. For a while we’ll need to use a printed worship aid, such as the missalette or a pew card to sing or say the new texts together. We will also be able to sing the Gloria, the Sanctus and the Memorial Acclamation using either familiar Mass settings that have been reworked to accommodate the new translation or after learning new compositions incorporating the new texts.
But whether using our current translation or using the new translation that we will begin using at the end of November, we will continue, together, to lift our hearts and minds to God.