ICEL: 50th anniversary – Two Cheers for ICEL!

Two cheers for ICEL!

I was sent this by an ICEL insider:

ICEL was founded in St Peter’s Basilica fifty years ago today. The occasion will be marked by a Solemn Mass at the Altar of the Chair at 5pm, concelebrated by the Bishops of the Commission and their collaborators (Principal Celebrant and Homilist – Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Mass will include English Gregorian Chant from the Roman Missal and the Graduale Parvum together with some hymns. The Master of Ceremonies of the Mass will be Mgr Jean-Pierre Kwambamba Masi, one of the papal ceremonieri. The deacons will be from the Pontifical Scots College and the Pontifical Beda College. Seminarians from the Pontifical North American College will serve and the schola will be formed of seminarians of the Venerable English College and the Pontifical Beda College. The organist will be Charles Cole, Assistant Director of Music of the London Oratory. The lector will be Peter Finn, Associate Director of ICEL. The offertory gifts will be brought forward by the staff of the ICEL Secretariat from Washington DC. In addition to concelebrating bishops and priests, Cardinals Pell and Burke will assist in Choir.

The Mass will be followed by a reception at the Venerable English College, venue of the first ever meeting of ICEL. Tomorrow, Friday October 18th, Feast of St Luke, The Holy Father will receive the Bishops of the Commission and the ICEL Editorial Committee and their principal collaborators in an audience in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace.

I say two cheers because the history of ICEL isn’t entirely without its blotches and stains. I think we all remember the bad-ol’-days, decades of:

you are so lucky that we are here.
You are really big.
Help us to be big too.

These days, however, we are happier (though not ecstatic) with the new, corrected translation, which by degrees of ten conveys better the content of the Latin texts.

For over a week now I have been with a pilgrimage in Italy. We have had a mixture of the older form of Mass and the Novus Ordo in English. I don’t often celebrate Mass using the Novus Ordo, and so the new, corrected translation really is still new to me. I still have to concentrate at certain points not to slip back into the old translation. Also, I can see how, were a priest simply to dash through the orations of Mass, they could come away with a feeling that they are clunky. That said, if you slow down and read for content, they work.

Furthermore, and more importantly, to those who say that it isn’t smooth enough and that it sounds like a translation, I say: GOOD! It is, after all, a translation. We should be using LATIN, according to the spirit of Vatican II as expressed in the documents of Vatican II. Remember the documents? Spirit, by itself, is not only not enough, it is misleading. We need documents.

In the documents we find that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council explicitly mandated (SC 54) that pastors of souls make sure that people can both speak and sing the parts that pertain to them also in Latin. This has not been obeyed. SC 36 says: “. . .the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”

So, two cheers for ICEL!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Events, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “GOOD! It is, after all, a translation”. Yes, that seems the right idea of translating – to make more widely and readily available as much as it can, as accurately as it can, of what it translating – expressed as felicitously as it can be, given those considerations. Quite a challenge! One thinks of the new Ordinariate Use, in which, in the words of Monsignor Burnham’s words “we have most truly discovered in place of rupture ‘a hermeneutic of continuity’, that is we have found a way of joining together Cranmer’s linguistic brilliance, and feel for translation, with the ancient Canon of the Mass, prayed everywhere in England from the time of St Augustine until the Reformation, that is, a thousand years.” (I have not yet actually seen/heard the result, yet, but the goal seems sensible.)

    See further

  2. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    My apologies for my own ‘ worse than infelicities’: please add an ” is”, and excise the second ” words” !

  3. pinoytraddie says:

    Reminds me of a Benedictine Liturigst who was part of the ICEL’s Committee for the Defunct and Lame-duck translation of the NO(He is a Fellow Filipino RIP). He would NOT want to be in that mass with All the Chant Propers. Hope my country catches up with the Benedictine Liturgical Movement soon.

  4. pelerin says:

    VSL mentions the Ordinariate Mass. I attended this Mass in London last week out of curiosity and nostalgia. I was impressed to see that everyone was in their Sunday best, and it was good to experience the silence before Mass. HoweverI felt like a fish out of water. It seemed strange not to begin Mass with the Sign of the Cross but good to see that they have retained the Last Gospel. Language is indeed important in worship and I welcomed the new ICEL translation but would not wish to return to Cranmer’s English however dignified it may sound.

  5. BobP says:

    Last Saturday vigil Mass I attended:

    Priest: The Lord is with you.
    People: And with your spirit (with a few arms raised, is this a new gesture?)
    Priest: Thank you.

    And it didn’t even bother me. After all, it’s the Novus Ordo.

Comments are closed.