Help from readers for a WDTPRS question.

From a reader:

I have been tasked with writing an essay about the new translation for our parish’s “glossy.” I would like to incorporate an example of the change in the prayers (collects) to show how the old and new differ.

Your “WDTPRS” posts are invaluable for this.

Do you have a favorite? Or one that you think captures the fundamental differences?

So… anyone?

Can you make some suggestions?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Legisperitus says:

    I don’t know if it’s the best example, but Friday of the First Week in Lent struck me as a good study in contrasts.

  2. frjim4321 says:

    Take a look at the contrast of the opening prayer from the 1974 Sacramentary and the 2010 Vox Clara (the one being imposed) for December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

  3. Frank H says:

    Try the Collect for the fourth Sunday of Advent. See this discussion:

  4. everett says:

    The USCCB has a nice side-by-side overview of the people’s responses:

  5. Daniel Latinus says:

    Postcommunion from the Third Sunday of Lent, which Fr. Z posted on March 26, 2011:

    The ICEL guys were not even trying. This is the worst ICEL howler I can remember.

    There is a Collect from a Sunday in Ordinary Time, I don’t remember exactly which Sunday, in which ICEL transmogrified a Latin prayer for spiritual assistance into an English prayer for social justice.

    There are a number of instances in which the ICEL “Alternative Prayers” were truer to the original than the ICEL rendering. (IIRC, the prayers for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary are an example of this.)

  6. Margaret says:

    I must second Daniel’s suggestion. Holy cannoli. I think the only word the ICEL translation retained was “Lord.” Everything else was pretty much just made up…

  7. tzard says:

    I wonder whether showing instances which are seemingly completely different really meets the pedagogical needs here. While the ICEL did a bad job, that’s not really what the people need to learn right now.

    The important point is not that it’s so completely different (though in many cases it may be), but to emphasize the continuity. Show how it better expresses the faith, how close it to the original latin – and therefore how close to the same prayers said by the faithful all over the world. In other words, proceed from a hermeneutic of continuity, not of rupture. If you can show closeness to the literal latin, so much the better. That the old translations often failed badly is old news now.

    Were it me, I’d take the prayers for the first or second Sunday of Advent and work with those. It will be fresh in their mind when they hear them. It should be fairly easy to show a word or phrase here or there which addresses the differences. (Unfortunately I don’t have them handy to quote right now).

  8. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    Old ICEL thought “he took the cup” an adequate, nay elegant, translation of “accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas” at the beginning of the consecration of the chalice in the Roman Canon. ‘Nuff said.

  9. contrarian says:

    I wholeheartedly second Daniel Latinus’s excellent choice from above. The Third Sunday of Lent, posted on March 26. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.

    I remember linking my father to that post. He’s a Lutheran minister. He commented that the ICEL translation seemed to him to be deliberately trying to take out all *Catholic* sounding things, so as to further a comical (or diabolical) version of the ecumenical movement. If he’s right, one has to wonder if it’s true that the ICEL folks weren’t even trying, or if instead, they were trying extra hard. :)

  10. aspiringpoet says:

    I agree with tzard about the need to emphasize continuity. Choose a prayer where people can see similarities as well as differences.

  11. Joe Magarac says:

    If you want to emphasize continuity, here are two suggestions:

    1. In Eucharistic Prayer III, the phrase “ut a solis ortu usque ad occasum” is presently translated “from east to west.” It actually means “from the rising of the sun to its setting.”

    2. In the servers’ responses, the phrase “Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum” is presently translated “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.” It actually means “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof.”

  12. I think Joe Magarac nailed it with suggestion #2. That was my first thought when I read your post, Fr. Z, for a couple of reasons. First, it emphasizes why the changes are necessary – i.e., to be more consistent with the Latin, and more consistent with scripture – and this is an excellent example of that return to the source/purpose of the original Latin. Second, it is fairly significant change to a prayer that nearly all frequent and a majority of infrequent mass-goers will recognize. So in the end, because it hits home to everyone, it provides a very easy teachable moment to explain the need for and purpose behind the corrected translation.

  13. Charivari Rob says:

    When is this magazine article going to be published?

    Look at the Sunday about two weeks after the date all the parishioners will have the article in their homes. If for some reason it’s completely unsuitable, use the Sunday before or after.

    I think the article will be more effective if it’s about something the people will see soon after reading it. “Hey, that antiphon Father Fred just recited – that’s what Joe was talking about in the parish magazine last week!”

  14. FarNorthPriest says:

    How about something that would be encountered several times throughout the Mass, even the extremely infrequent attender: “Et cum spiritu tuo” as “And with your spirit” instead of the old ICEL “And also with you.”

  15. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Two places which are instructive and important come to mind.

    1) At the “Orate Fratres”, the ICEL original conflates “my sacrifice and yours” to “our sacrifice”. What does the new translation do?

    2) Immediately following that, the old translation has “for our good and the good of all his church.” It’s missing the word “holy” — for some reason I can’t fathom. What does the new translation do?

  16. joanofarcfan says:

    “Seen and unseen” back to “visible and invisible.” There IS a difference.

  17. jbosco88 says:

    Don’t forget about PRO MULTIS!!!

    There’s loads about “for many” on here, the Suppository, the Fishwrap, you name it. Lesbian Nuns, always have something to say on “inclusive language” etc.

    Interestingly, “for many” was retained in the Book of Common Worship used in the Church of England. We dropped it.

  18. aurora says:

    The Perseus Digital Library Latin Word Study tool is helpful. Here is a link to a search for
    “spiritu” with a click on Lewis and Short lexicon

  19. benedetta says:

    “Piano, piano”…I am coming to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the Latin. As many young people have a little bit of Spanish, and older folks from school days often have a smattering of, Italian, French, Latin, and seeing as how young people are often taught a little bit of Latin under the auspices of boosting SAT and brain power, ease of English vocabulary, etc., I say, enjoy the Latin, more and more.

    There are quite popular authors that the doctrinal dissenters hold up as one of their own who stated, at the time, that those translations into English, in many different ways and for many different reasons, that the translations of the prayers imposed at that time, were horrible, as in, ugly, lacking substance, representative of a condescending clericalism which views the faithful in the worst light imaginable, a travesty, a big mistake, and as supporters of Second Vatican feeling that was not what was intended, desired, needed by the faithful.

  20. frjim4321 says:

    In the interest of fairness, the honest comparison would be between the 1998 ICEL v. the 2010 VC. I don’t know any liturgist anywhere who promotes the 1974 ICEL as a permanent, finished product. That’s why 20 years was spent improving it (e.i., 1998 ICEL, approved by bishops, shelved by the CDWS).

    So, let’s be honest. No one is promoting 1974 ICLE as a perfect or even permanent product. Intellectual integrity demands the acknowledgement of the debacle of 1998 ICEL rejection.

  21. albinus1 says:

    I agree with Mr. Magarac’s #2, and I would add this: the phrase, “Lord I am not worth to have you enter under my roof” is taken from the Gospel story of the healing of the centurion’s servant — i.e., it is a scriptural reference. The ICEL rendering completely obscures this.

    As for “And with your Spirit”, I would not only point out that this is closer to the Latin, but also that virtual every other approved, currently-used translation of the liturgy renders it more closely (e.g., Spanish: Y con tu espiritu; German: Und mit deinem Geist; etc.). In other words, by returning to “And with your Spirit”, not only will be using a response that is closer to the Latin, but we will be rejoining virtually the entire rest of the Catholic world in doing so.

  22. catholicmidwest says:


    If you don’t know of “any liturgist anywhere who promotes the 1974 ICEL as a permanent, finished product,” why did we have to wait for it to change to something better for so long? And why has there been significant resistance to changing it from some progressive corners? (Yes, I am referring to the “why don’t we wait” petition that appeared online a year or so ago.)

    Also, to your point about the 1998 draft: The answer to this question you asked is very simple to answer. That document never really made it anywhere. It was a failed draft, and no more. It doesn’t deserve to be compared to anything that’s ever really been used as a working translation because it was just a rejected draft and never approved or enacted. The contrast is logically between the new translation and the one it will replace which is the 1974 translation.

    A better way to see all this is:
    a) that this translation is more faithful to the Latin source text than previous versions, and
    b) that the two (1974 & the new one) together form a continuous effort toward a better translation.

    Perhaps in a few years we will have another which is even more faithful. Fidelity in continuity should, after all, be the goal.

  23. s i says:

    I like this one the best:

    and of course, the story from the priest who used it at Mass, and the congregation laughed……

    I follow your translations of the ICEL text all the time but I think you will be especially pleased to know that I used your translations of the post-Communion prayer for the 3rd Sunday of Advent as an announcement after Communion and before the post-Communion prayer.

    I introduced it by saying “You all have heard that there will be a new translation of the Roman Missal for use on the first Sunday of Advent this year. Perhaps you have also heard some of the ‘conspiracy theories‘ about why we need a new translation. Or, maybe you hear someone complain [in a mocking tone], ‘Why do we need a new translation. I like the current one?’ So, rather than tell you why we need a new translation—and no translation will ever be perfect—listen to a ‘slavishly literal’ translation of today’s post-Communion prayer from the Latin text….”

    So, I read the slavishly literal translation.

    “Now, listen to the new translation,” I said and proceeded to read the new translation. “Do you see how it is pretty closed to the slavishly literal translation and conveys a sense of uplifting the mind and heart to God?”

    “So, let’s now stand for the closing prayer in its current translation for the last time.”

    They laughed .

    At the dismissal I said, “Don’t you think that some of the things of the 1960s should remain in the 1960s?”

    Many parishioners stopped afterwards and said they’d never ask again why a new translation is needed.

    Keep up the good work!

  24. bbmoe says:

    Hello, everyone, and thank you for your help!

    While I take the same grim amusement from some of the paraphrases (are they really translations? in many cases, NOT) that the very educated readers of this blog do, I think my audience will not be attuned to the fine points or even very aware that there is a problem with the 1973 translation. They just know that a new translation is coming, and mostly are going to be annoyed that they won’t be able to go on autopilot during the Mass.

    Nevertheless, by using some of the examples you have provided (I’m also relying heavily on the Magnificat guide, which is excellent) I should be able to illustrate clearly why the new translation will better accomplish our goal in the Mass: to put Christ at the center, to serve him, and to become one in prayer as his Church.

    This is a very educational project for me. I was tapped primarily because I can write and because of my general understanding, not because I’m really well versed (so to speak) on all of the history and issues of the new translation. In looking at these side-by-side examples, I am struck by how blunt and stripped down the current prayers are. I remember reading my grandparents’ “Readers Digest Condensed Books” when I was a little kid– the lame duck prayers are like that. And consistently, what is sacrificed in the “dynamic equivalence” is supplication. We don’t beseech anymore. In fact, some of the petitions read more like commands, which obviously is terribly wrong.

    I am very appreciative of your help. God bless you and Fr. Z!

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