Canadian NRSV Lectionary now in use

From a reader:

I just realised that the newly approved Canadian NRSV lectionary is now officially in use with the First Sunday of Advent, and I was wondering if you or your readers had a chance to encounter it yet. I was visiting Hong Kong, and one of the parishes actually use the Novalis Sunday Missals 2008-2009 edition. On the copyright page, I noticed that the scriptural texts are drawn from the Lectionary for Sundays and Solemnities (c) Concacan, 2008. So for what it was worth, I perused through the texts. Although I didn’t have time to really study the texts, I found out that:
(1) The angelic salutation for Mary, instead of NRSV’s banal "Greetings, favored one" was changed to "Hail, full of grace" in the new NRSV lectionary,
(2) In the account of creation, instead of NRSV’s"So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.", the new lectionary has "So God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him, male and femaile he created them."
(3) And in Galatians 4, in the famous sonship texts, NRSV originally had:
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ?Abba! Father!? So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
But in the new NRSV lectionary, we have:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons and daughters, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ?Abba! Father!? So you are no longer slave but son, and if son then also heir, through God.
I didn’t have time to study the rest of the texts, nor could I take the missal out of church, but it looks really promising after all. I wonder if you have had a chance to study the new NRSV lectionary in depth?

I have not.  These days I swim nearly completely in Latin.

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  1. AM says:

    I know from a contact that the Lectionary has not been printed yet by the CCCB, the new books are not yet available, and all parishes are therefore still proclaiming from the old (1992) books. Apparentliy the new books will be available in February. There has been no announcement in my diocese (Hamilton) nor in my parish. There is no recent mention of the new Lectionary on the CCCB web site, either.

    The previous lectionary is also based on the NRSV, and the new changes were said to be “minor”. Though proclaiming “Hail, full of grace” seems pretty major to me.

  2. Roland de Chanson says:

    Latine natare tantopere melius est quam sermone submergi vulgari! ;-) (Swimming in Latin is infinitely better than drowning in the vernacular!)

  3. Odd, I thought Rome had rejected the NRSV due to inclusive language issues.

  4. Andreas says:

    These days I swim nearly completely in Latin.

    Macte virtute esto Pater dilectissime! Sic itur ad astra.

  5. vox borealis says:

    I live in Canada. I thought that the lectionary was *already* in use in Canada for years, even though it had not yet been approved by Rome. Then after years of bickering/ignoring, Rome approved the lectionary in a revised form with some of the inclusive language problems dealt with.

    For example, explicit reference to God are now masculine. But everywhere else the language has been “inclusified”, for example “brothers and sisters,” or my personal favorite: “a person does not live on only bread.” Feel the poetry, man (I mean, person).

  6. Seminarian says:

    “Odd, I thought Rome had rejected the NRSV due to inclusive language issues.”

    Yes, Rome had rejected it. But the Canadian bishops had obtained a special indult allowing them to continue using the NRSV on the condition that they undertake a review of the lectionary in order to bring it into conformity with the Vatican’s norms. That indult, originally intended to be brief, became quite long-lived. The problem, from the Vatican’s perspective, was not the inclusive language per se, but rather how and when it was employed. Even official Vatican documents use “Brothers and Sisters”, and the like. I even came across a Latin speech by the Holy Father in which he addressed the assembly with “Fratres et Sorores”. The problem, however, is when so-called inclusive language tends to obscure the Christological references in the Sacred Scriptures. One of the best examples of this is “mortal”, which is the NRSV translation of “Son of man” (the latter term appearing to be “doubly exclusive”). But the Biblical texts which use this expression are not referring to the quality of mortality, and so “mortal” is not a faithful translation (not to mention, it sounds terrible in English as a direct address — ie in the vocative).

    That being said, it appears that the new translation is superior to the original one by far. On a side note, I mention as well that in Canada, we do not use the NRSV, but an already-modified version of it (modified for “liturgical use”). Finally, political correctness is no longer going to be considered as THE norm for liturgical translation — although it does still carry a fair bit of weight, unfortunately.

  7. AM says:

    Comparing the 1992 lectionary and the new one (in a missallette for December) I found exactly three differences: 1) this Sunday, the 1992 lectionary, second reading, ends with II Peter 3:15a (“without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”) but the 1992 Lectionary stops at 14a “strive to be found by him at peace”. Might be an error in the Lectionary, though. (2) 4th Sunday, Gospel, as noted previously, “Greetings, favoured one” changed to “Hail, full of grace”, (3) in the same Gospel “throne of his father [prev. “ancestor] David”,

  8. Roland de Chanson says:

    Fr. Z: These days I swim nearly completely in Latin.
    Andreas: Macte virtute esto Pater dilectissime! Sic itur ad astra.

    Num itur ad astra natando? Multo facilius itur volando! :-)
    (You can swim to the stars? Much easier to fly!)

    Obiter dictum: I’ve often wondered why if Jerome was slavishly literal (i.e. accurate) to the Greek, as were Cyril and Methodius, why the ICEL felt the need to “modernize” (i.e. mistranslate) the Latin? Tanta amissa sunt. (So much has been lost.)

  9. TJB says:

    Honestly, why couldn’t the Vatican have just told the CCCB that they had to use the NAB or RSV or some other approved translation rather than bending over backwards trying to reform the NRSV. The whole thing would have been over immediately… well as soon as the Bishops stopped whining and crying about it anyway. The Vatican really needs to re-learn the art of putting their foot down.

  10. Joe says:

    Unfortunately it does not exactly translate the Bible of the Church but the Bible of the Scholars. Thus for the first Sunday of Advent last year we heard from a Hebrew Isaiah “behold the young woman will conceive” and then from Matthew (who like the other first generation of disciples followed the reading of the Septuagint) 1:22-23 “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child ….”

  11. jeff says:

    I suppose that there will always be a diversity of thoughts regarding the use of the NRSV translations of the Bible as a source for developing an English language Lectionary. There also seems to be a fair amount of misunderstanding associated with what really happened in the case of the Canadian Lectionary. What I think is important, however, is that there has been a serious effort to produce a Lectionary that meets the criteria of LA and has been approved by the CDWDS. It is also likely that the Canadian Lectionary will be used by a greater number of countries. England, Wales, Scotland, and Australia, have all undertaken a new Lectionary based on the NRSV, and since the copyright holder of the NRSV wasn’t going to allow them to proceed afresh, they have since turned to the Canadian text.

  12. JohnE says:

    Interesting for this topic to come up. I was lector for the 2nd reading this evening here at my parish in Colorado. It was not what I had practiced using the Magnificat publication. When I looked after Mass, I noticed that our new lectionary is the 1992 Canadian version.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    I wish the English-speaking bishops throughout the world would adopt the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Second Catholic Edition, that is in line with Liturgicam Authenticam. This is a revision of the “old” RSV, and not the NRSV. It would be nice if all English-speaking Catholics could have one lectionary, just like they will soon have one missal…

  14. dave says:

    I’d take the NRSV over the NAB anyday of the week.

  15. Ben says:

    I personally I have found that the Confraternity Bible which came out of Vatican II to be an amazing translation to use liturgically. This version is the predecessor to the NAB but it maintains the beauty of the Douay-Rheims while being scholary. I think this version is used in the 1962 Missels by St. Joseph’s Press but I am not too sure. Thoughts?

  16. Geoffrey says:

    I think the Confraternity Bible came out before Vatican II… it can be found in the pre-Vatican II St. Joseph’s hand missals. Excellent version, though. I have sought to use it in my own publications. The copyright is owned by the US bishops conference, and they refuse any and all permission to use this version, recommending I use the NAB instead… to which I promptly reply “thanks, but no thanks!” :-)

  17. Blaise says:

    From the editor’s response to a letter to the editor regarding “Canadian Lectionary News” in Adoremus Bulletin (, December 2008: “It should be pointed out that media reports that the Canadian bishops received Vatican approval for an “inclusive language” Lectionary are untrue.” Further, “the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV) was explicity rejected for liturgical use by the Holy See in 1994 –..”

    The new lectionary is not in use in our diocese in Canada. I would encourage persons to charitably write their bishops to inquire as to when they plan on implementing the new lectionary.

  18. Hugo says:

    You “perused” but didn’t “have time to study”

    No wonder bad translations endurred so long.

  19. Greg says:

    Personally I prefer RSV/CE for my personal reading and study, but if the choice is between NAB and the NRSV/CE, I choose the latter. It is a far superior version, from what I have seen and heard, although I do not have a copy to the NAB to do a detailed comparison. I also have Confraternity Bible and treasure it.

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