The complete text of the Roman (Novus Ordo/Orindary form) Mass in English

HT to Sandro Magister for the link to this page which I am sure many will find immensely useful. It is in fact something very rare on the internet – and it seems that the Italians have done it blissfully unaware of any copyright toes they might be stepping on. I know it will all be out of date within (at most, pray God) a couple of years when the new translations come into play, but for the moment, if you are looking for the rite of the mass in English, here it is: http://www.maranatha.it/RitoMessa/masspage.htm

[Quick update 12/5/09 – as the comments below point out, this is actually not an official translation of the mass. God knows where the folk who put this italian website together got it from – it is neither the current approved nor the draft future translation. Which means we are back to where we started – no complete English text on the internet.]

Which leads me to another gripe. A quick check of this text has the following in the Creed:

Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:

Yes, despite popular opinion, it is still “for us men” and not just “for us” (which could mean either “just for us Christians” or “for all us creatures”). Could someone tell me where just about every priest and parish got the idea that we could drop a word from the Creed which has a doctrinal importance which is not insignificant?

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27 responses to “The complete text of the Roman (Novus Ordo/Orindary form) Mass in English

  1. Being both eccentric and bloody-minded, I make sure, when enduring Mass in the vernacular, to say “man”, “him” and other such politically incorrect terms as loudly as possible, particular if some vexatious female is ad libbing within earshot.

    The joy of Trad Mass is quite simply that one doesn’t have to put up with rubbish and inanity, and can actually worship God with fear and trembling, as He should be, with solemnity and all care, without having one’s blood pressure soar owing to mediocre stupidity.

    • Pax

      I have always said for us men and our salvation because men in this context obviously refers to mankind which covers both sexes . Many of the attempts by hardline feminists to impose their ideology on the written and spoken word amount to linguistic vandalism.
      One can be sympathetic to souls who find it hard to say some words because of traumatic past experience without destroying the beauty of the English language and undermining Truth. One poor soul I met had great difficulty with the Our Father because of such trauma till I suggested she not think of her own experience of a father but instead think of the father she would like to have had -after this she was able to say that beautiful prayer without the discomfort and struggle that she had experienced in the past.

  2. Woodring

    Is this an Aussie thing? At least here in the midwestern US, every mass I have attended said creed word for word as printed.

    Unfortunately, I find I still have to follow along to keep from reverting to the wording used in the LCMS.

  3. I was hoping “complete text” meant “propers and all.” However, it appears to mean simply the Ordinary of the Mass. Or am I missing something?

  4. Garfield

    Sandro’s version of the Mass in English does some interesting things with the Acclamation of Faith!

  5. Matthias

    I will be also politically correct and recall one of william holden’s first films where the great English actor Edmund Gwen ,being cast as a university professor with ex GIs’ as students ,was lecturing a group of wives of these chaps. he spoke about mankind and then said ,” when I refer to “man’ I mean man embraces woman”
    And Pax what a good way of assisting someone who had gender linguistic issues. I still recall when the UCA changed some hymns to get rid of gender bias- rendered asunder more likely

  6. Herman

    Dear David

    I think the problem is not the text, but the problem is the English language and how people who insist in politically correctness to the nth degree cannot adopt themselves to the inadequacy of the English language.

    In the Germanic language we have a single word that embraces both genders as a single word a word like “Mensch”. The point I would like to argue is that we all know that the word men means mankind or humanity, embracing both genders so although it is not necessarily politically correct it seems to me perfectly correct in its context.

    Maybe it is time that we invent a new English word that embraces both genders

    To leave the word men of would leave it more open to interpretation.

  7. PM

    Is there an on-line text of the Latin original so those of us with some Latin can explore for ourselves how dreadful the soon-to-be-superseded ICEL ‘translation’ is? As Eammon Duffy once said, mere incompetence coudn’t explain some of the things in it.

  8. What in the heck is up here with the second and third paragraphs of the EP I, the Roman Canon?

    “Through him we ask you to accept and bless this bread and wine in preparation for their becoming the living body and blood of your Son. We ask that our worthy sacrifices of each day be joined with his one perfect offering.

    “We ask blessings for your holy catholic Church, watch over it, Lord, and guide it;
    help us accept your peace that there may be
    a united people of faith throughout creation.
    We offer our sacrifices for faithful priests,
    and for all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles.”

    Is “translation” actually in use anywhere? It certainly is not used in the United States.

  9. Fr Ronan Kilgannon

    Dear David, peace.
    Thank you for your website.
    I do not know what translation of the English Mass on which the comments above have been made, but it is not the one that is awaiting approval by Rome.
    This translation is on the US Bishops website for ‘Study only’.
    It is very different from the one to which that Sandro Magister directs us. Any thoughts where this latter may have come from?
    Blessings Fr Ronan Kilgannon Erem. Dio.

  10. Peregrinus

    OK, the issue here is the best way to translate homines, which is the word employed in the Latin.

    Which begs the question, what do we mean by “best”? You could that the “best” translation is the officially approved one, and that if ICEL had chosen to translate homines as “wombats”, then that is what we should say. Since people are not slow, however, to castigate the work of ICEL – as PM demonstrates in this very thread – the “argument from authority” in relation to homines is not very appealing.

    So you could instead suggest that the “best” translation is the one which most accurately conveys the meaning of “homines”. And I think the starting point for this discussion undoubtedly would be the generally agreed point that, in the Creed, homines indicates people of both genders, without distinction.

    Now, a bit of background. The original and, in the classical period, still the primary meaning of homo was “person”, without any implication as to sex. There was a distinct word, vir, used when maleness was to be indicated. However, to indicate “people” there was an entirely separate word, populus (which we uusually translate as “the people”). The result was that homines, the plural of homo, was not often used to speak of persons generally, but only of a particular body of persons – e.g. a military force, a ship’s crew – in contexts in which it mostly, though incidentally, referred to male persons.

    As a result of this usage, in the post-classical period, homo began to be used of individual members of such groups, with meanings like enlisted man, armed retainer, crew member and, as feudalism developed, vassal and serf. And from this, it broadened to mean “male person”, and the word vir was narrowed in meaning to contexts where manliness was being emphasised – hero, warrior, etc.

    Right. The Latin mass was adopted in the fourth century AD, early in what is called the “late Latin” period, just about the time that this transition in senses was starting.. Late Latin is characterised by a sharp and growing distinction between the written language, which closely resembled classical Latin, and the spoken language, which was in the course of devolving into the various romance languages – Italian, French, Spanish, etc. Thus homines in the creed looks back to the earlier sense of persons without distinction of sex, but to those listening to or reciting the creed it increasingly carried connotations of the (to them) modern sense of “male persons”.

    OK. Now skip forward to the sixteenth century when the Credo is being translated into English (and other vernaculars) for liturgical purposes – mostly by Protestant reformers, and mostly – at least at first – into Germanic languages. How are they to translate homines?

    As we know, the English word “man” originally carried no implication as to sex but, like homo, it later developed one. By the thirteenth century, in English the word “man” could mean either a person or a male person, and there was no separate word for a male person.

    A similar development occurred in all the Germanic languages. But, in all the Germanic languages except English, this divided sense led to the development of different forms of the word, one indicating maleness and the other not. So, as Herman points out, those translating the Creed into e.g. German used the word “mensch”, which has no implications of sex. And this practice continues today in the approved Catholic translations in those languages.

    But no such development had taken place in English, where in the sixteenth century there was only “man” to cover both senses. So the Protestant reformers translated homines as “men”, probably fully aware that homines carried the same ambiguity. And, in due course, Catholic writers preparing translations for missals followed suit.

    But language is never set in stone. Linguists have traced the decline of genderless “man” in English since the nineteenth century, and by our own time it has substantially disappeared in common speech, except in a few stock phrases and some compound words (though even these are on the decline). The result is that to persist in using genderless “man” in the Creed is already anachronistic, and will be increasingly anachronistic and jarring. To translate homines as “men” is to translate into sixteenth-century English, not twenty-first century English. You might choose to do this if your overriding objection is to resist the evolution of language, but I cannot think of a good theological or liturgical reason for wanting to do this.

    • I acknowledge your argument, but I do wonder… surely no one would be so foolish as to imagine that the phrase “for us men” means that males only are granted salvation, as if we were not Christians but worshippers of Mithras, soldiers fresh drenched from the taurobolium? It is exceedingly obvious that the phrase “for us men and for our salvation” means that Christ our Lord took flesh to save all people. Trying to render “propter nos homines” without using “men” results in clumsy expressions, such as “for us people”. I do oppose your conclusion that “man” now solely means “male human” in all cases; for in the Creed the meaning is obviously inclusive of both genders.

      • Peregrinus

        I don’t think you can argue that

        – we can use “man” in a non-gender-specific way in the Creed because

        – it is still used in this sense in English, because

        – it is so used in the Creed.

        That’s a circular argument, isn’t it?

        I’m not convinced that “for us people” or some similar formulation is all that clumsy. The US Declaration of Independence famously begins “We the People . . .” and nobody suggests that that is clumsy or tautologous.

        I agree that nobody is really likely to think that Christians believe Christ came only for males (although I could see people wondering what the connection between this and the church’s teaching on male-only priesthood is). That’s not my concern. My concern is more that the usage of “man” here is jarring and awkward; it’s an unnecessary stumbling block that we have to reason our way through in otder to get at being proclaimed and, liturgically, that is not a Good.Thing. That’s not what the language of liturgy is about. In itself, this is a small problem, but it’s a wholly unnecessary one. So why put up with it?

        But there’s another dimension to this. Many people find this usage of “man” not just clumsy or awkward, but to some extent offensive. And many others, I think, resist any change here, or even scorn the idea, because they consider that view to be unjustified, irrational, even silly, or because they associate that perspective with a feminist philosophical standpoint that they don’t like. Sooner or later the words “political correctness” will march towards any discourse about this issue.

        There’s an important point to grasp here. If people find liturgical language to be to any extent offensive, then this is a real and substantial problem, and the problem does not go away or solve itself because you, or I, or David, or Pope Benedict XVI might consider that their attitude is irrational, or unjustified, or silly. It’s in the nature of offence that it is always subjective. If somebody else finds something offensive, the fact that I don’t find it offensive is not really relevant to them, and I still have to deal with the consequences of their offence. Thus, if a significant number of people find liturgical languate at all offensive, the reaction “how silly!” is of no help at all. The reaction we need is “how can we fix this?”

        It may not, of course, always be possible to fix it, but in this case it clearly is, since there is no doctrinal, theological or even aesthetic necessity to employ language here which has any gender-specific connotations. So this one is a no-brainer, as far as I can see. It should be fixed.

  11. Tony

    I think Pere provides a very strong argument about managing changes in language so that it remains relevant and meaningful now. So often that seems to be about resisting change until it becomes so out of step that it can no longer be avoided.

    Nobody doubts, for example, that ‘propter nos homines’ isn’t meant to exclude women so why flirt with possible misunderstanding for the sake of some view of tradition?

    In my experience inclusive language is not that hard. It just takes a little commitment and creativity. ‘For us people’ may not be the best way to go, but that’s not an argument for retaining ‘for us men’. I mean, what about just ‘for us’?

  12. Tony

    Joshua,

    Being both eccentric and bloody-minded, I make sure, when enduring Mass in the vernacular, to say “man”, “him” and other such politically incorrect terms as loudly as possible, particular if some vexatious female is ad libbing within earshot.

    As reluctant as I am to stereotype, I’m finding this comment all too typical of the arrogance of those of a ‘Trad’ persuasion.

    Consider how someone would be greeted in your mass who answered loudly in English or found others ways to big note themselves.

    The joy of Trad Mass is quite simply that one doesn’t have to put up with rubbish and inanity, and can actually worship God with fear and trembling, as He should be, with solemnity and all care, without having one’s blood pressure soar owing to mediocre stupidity.

    Again, the arrogance is gobsmacking.

  13. matthias

    Arrogance Tony. Possibly but more likely that of a worshipper who wants to worship in good order -to quote the westminster confession of faith. I am completely neutral as regards the Latin Mass,noting the joy of catholic friends of my Mums when the Mass was said in the vernacular .
    However the church i attend ,has hymns (?) that do have powerful words but they are sung insipidly and verses are repeated . Must be a hallmark of early 21st Century Protestant worship.
    Nil toleratum singum atrociousus

    • Dear Tony,

      You must remember that the Internet magnifies one’s courage… like the Apostle, I can write bitingly, but am very meek and mild in person!

      I am making the point that I have the right to attend worship correctly carried out, rather than endure worship disrupted and made horribly unpleasant. Any person presuming to amend the liturgy is disrupting the sacred action – hence the need to say somewhat loudly (I don’t bellow, though I do naturally have a loud voice) what is should in fact be said, and acceded to in a spirit of humility. (Humility and a sense of personal unworthiness, as opposed to pretended victimhood and a sense of personal entitlement, is not generally a mark of the types who seek to twist the liturgy to suit their current issues with the Church. There is a vast difference between the Traditionalist who seeks to do as has been done heretofore, as is his right, and she who seeks to completely change the substance of Catholic belief and practice.)

      I do not and would never presume to change the words of the liturgy, even though I could, say, make a better translation of the Suscipiat, Confiteor, Gloria, etc. on the spot. With all the more reason I can complain justly of the jarring wretchedness of those who seek to lord it over others by mucking with what is laid down. Why do self-proclaimed victims always turn into the worst persecutors? (I sincerely hope I never do this, or at the least get rebuked properly for any such stupidity.)

      To respond in English at a Latin Mass would be a solecism; if I choose to respond in Latin at an English Mass, even I have enough sense to do so sotto voce, so as not to appear entirely mad and lost to all sense of decorum and normalcy.

      Please don’t be put off by Latin Massgoers: though, after all, why on earth would you expect them to be perfect – on the contrary, the Lord came for to save disgusting sinners, and I very much hope, a la Chesterton, that whatever church you visit has plenty of such in evidence!

      Tony, I really hope I’m not unpleasantly arrogant, but seek to try and grow in virtue…

      I really do find it a horrible and painful experience to sit through what should be a sublime and most amazing encounter with the Divine in the Sacrament, yet which can be made fiendishly repellent by the perhaps well-meant but ignorant and grotesque deformations of the ritual by all manner of persons. I find the bizarre and slipshod clothing with which the liturgy is bound extremely hard to bear: having had the luck to worship in the Traditional Rite for some years, to be without it has been a real shock and I think leaves me in danger of spiritual backsliding, since I find going to Mass a real trial, whereas I used so to look forward to it.

      Traddies, I reckon, appear arrogant because they have a very strong desire to adhere to the Faith whatever the cost, and not blindly to follow the madding crowd. This on the positive side makes them stand up for what is right, but on the negative side makes them fearful of giving in to compromise. Unfortunately, being strong in faith does not imply equal strength of charity and hope – hence the way that Traddies can swap stories of terrible goings-on, and feel tempted to despair at the world’s unhappy state, to say nothing of their own perceived lack of virtue and charity.

  14. The Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) tried to roll out a similar form of the Creed. The general unrest in all jurisdictions led to its never being officially promulgated. A more recent ‘official translation’ from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (the largest in North America) had brought back for whom He came down from heaven.

  15. Tony

    Before I was actively involved on-line Matthais, I really wasn’t aware of much activity in terms of traditional masses.

    I’d have to say I wasn’t neutral then and even now I think that preserving our traditional liturgies is a good thing — I hope there will always be people who are willing to keep these traditions alive — BUT it really has been my experience that those who represent these groups on line seem to look with disdain on the ordinary form and on those who prefer it.

    Surely a person with any humility wouldn’t seek to disrupt a mass in that way? Surely the Mass itself is not the forum to make your displeasure obvious? I’m wondering too, if the ordinary form is going to be so upsetting for you, it would be better not to attend at all?

    A few years ago I entertained the notion of going to visit a local traditional mass, but my experience on line and hearing about similar experiences in ‘the real world’ have thoroughly put me off.

  16. Thanks for all those who have pointed out that the linked order of the mass is not in fact an authorised version of the mass. There is some really odd stuff in it.

    As for the point of my original “gripe”, it was not a question of what the “best” translation would be – it was a question of the authorisation with which the word “men” was omitted. As far as I know, there is no authorisation for it.

    • Peregrinus

      I think this is a provisional translation which was circulated about 35 years ago for study, and possibly for temporary use, before the finalisation of the translation that we use now. Probably the reason it’s on the web is that it’s out of copyright or, since it has been long ago superseded, nobody bothers to defend the copyright.

      Regarding “men”, yes, your original point was indeed about approval of the language rather than fitness of the language. But I don’t think you can raise the question of whether a particular form of words is approved, and expect to avoid any discussion of whether it should be approved. And Catholics of the more traditional variety have long ago established a robust custom of trenchant and public criticism of the approved translations..

  17. matthias

    Tony, i agree with your point re people not interrupting the Mass. i can remember that members of the Rainbow Sash movement interrupted a First Communion Mass at St patrick’s and I was quite disgusted at their selfish behaviour-wrecking a service ,when they could have made their dissatisfaction known in other forums. They were actually having a go at cardinal pell and thought that this was the best way-for them with the media in attendance. It worked but as i said,they wrecked the day for First Comunicants

  18. Tony

    Joshua,

    While I acknowlege and appreciate your more conciliatory tone, I have to tell that my response probably didn’t really reflect the reality of my experience.

    As I said I try very hard to avoid stereotyping and labeling, but the fact is that the kind of arrogance you presented — I only have your written word to judge and have no way of knowing that you’re different in reality — is more than typical of my experience, it is my experience without exception.

    I am old enough to remember Mass before VatII and how truly dreadful it was. Sure, there were many exceptions, that’s why I wouldn’t mind revisiting it, but when it’s the ‘ordinary’ form it, like the ordinary form today, is subject to the strengths and weaknesses of being everyone’s mass.

    The extraordinary form now is, I’d imagine, much more consistent and attended by people who are really committed. It reflects its status as operating in a kind of ‘siege mentality’. But it is not, by its nature, more superior or more reverent or more likely to engender greater committment from those who participate.

    Notwithstanding recent concessions Joshua, the form of the mass you prefer is not the form preferred by the church at large. I don’t think that makes you wrong in any sense BUT I do think that calls for a sense of genuine humility.

    You’ll only win people over by offering them a sense of the preciousness you believe you have, not by picking out the worst in others and showing your contempt.

    I’ve experienced what I regard as terrible traditional masses and you’ve experienced what you regard as terrible modern masses. I think we have the right to look for a mass that best fits with our own needs, but when we find ourselves in a ‘foreign’ mass surely it is up to us to be present to the Eucharist, not the imperfections of the congregation? The mass is surely not the place to ‘cast stones’.

    • I do try not to “cast stones”…

      Certainly there are bad old Masses and nice new Masses; if only more priests really tried, rather than just did the minimum!

      Yes, really it is what is precious and holy at Mass that I treasure, and I think I did fall into the easy trap of giving scandal by offering my own sense of grievance to the world at large.

      The extraordinary form nowadays is indeed by all accounts more carefully and lovingly celebrated, and the congregations present are committed to it. The sad fact of a ’siege mentality’ reflects upon the outrageous injustice that it was taken from people, who had to fight for forty years to have it at all, and got treated shamefully, only to be told by BXVI it was never banned after all! It is the Tridentines who deserve an apology from the Church.

      “But it is not, by its nature, more superior or more reverent or more likely to engender greater committment from those who participate.”

      In their substance – the Most Holy Eucharist – both forms of Mass are equally holy, reverent and productive of pious adherence. Any differences between them are of accidents (outward appearances) rather than of essence (inner reality). I would argue, however, that by and large the way the modern Mass is actually celebrated in parishes is not as holy, reverent nor productive as the way the 1962 Mass is; though of course there are exceptions: beautiful and moving vernacular liturgies, badly rushed through Low Masses! The remedy for both is the same: to rekindle the desire to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”, which at least in Australia faces a cultural cringe factor.

  19. Tony

    Joshua,

    An aspect of the ‘cultural cringe factor’ is ‘all that comes from Europe — especially if it is old — is good and all that comes from Australia is cringe’.

    What is holy and reverent here is what is holy and reverent here. What is holy and reverent in Africa, is holy and reverent in Africa … Unity in the church is important, but we’re not a burger chain.

    I’m more than happy for the lovers of traditional liturgy to be in the mix of building an Australian way of holiness and reverence, but you don’t have the last word on it.

    By way of analogy: the choir that I’ve been a member of for many years now will do ‘On Eagles Wings’ and ‘Panis Angelicus’ and all things between. As much as I’ve loved to appreciate the likes of Panis from the inside, as it were, and am really proud to contribute to bringing this sort of music to our congregation, the fact is we get more compliments for ‘On Eagles Wings’.

  20. Pax

    I have followed the posts with interest but the most beautiful mass I have ever attended in terms of a feeling of profound reverence and palpable sense of our need of God and awareness of His love and mercy was in a shabby tired looking dining room with worn laminex tables and a mixture of recovering alcoholics, mentally challenged people and volunteers. The celebrant was a very old priest with a deep love and reverence for the Eucharist. When he said the words of consecration you felt you were at the Last Supper.I have never forgotten that experience. So although I love the beauty of the English language to be respected and music and vestments to be as beautiful and appropriate as we can manage even more important than any of this is that the celebrant has a profound love and respect for the Blessed Sacrament and the congregation come with a spirit of humility to receive the body and blood of Christ.