New English Missal: We need not fear specialised vocabulary in the Mass


In the third part of Peter Jennings’ interview with Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB, before the CTS author talks of writing his booklet, Understanding the Roman Missal – the New Translation, he gives us a rundown of how he became involved in all things liturgical and why he sees the new translations as a return to the use of more specific vocabulary.

Peter Jennings: What particular skills and gifts do you feel you have been able to contribute to this complex project?

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, OSB: In 1987 in order to assist the work of ICEL, the then Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship, Archbishop, now Cardinal Virgilio Noe, encouraged me to prepare a study on the sources of the Prayers and Prefaces of the Roman Missal.

This was a task that I was unable to accomplish alone and so called upon the help of a good friend of mine, an English Marist Father, Father Anthony Ward, the present Undersecretary of the Congregation.

This was the beginning of a working partnership for the study of the sources of the Latin liturgy. To the present it has resulted in the publication of 15 volumes and numerous articles concerning the theological, biblical, historical and liturgical background and study of the Roman Liturgy. This includes not only the Mass but the Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours.

My liturgical research has been mainly academic in character until the recent request by the CTS to collaborate in the preparation of catechetical and pastoral resources relating to the new translation.

Peter Jennings: Does the biblical character of the new translation differ from the former translation?

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, OSB: The Fathers of the Church often spoke of the two sources from which the Christian community is nourished, the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist. The new translation takes care to ensure that the Biblical resonances found in some of the prayers are heard and recognisable.

For example, the following biblical resonance in the third Eucharistic Prayer has been warmly welcomed:  “from East to West …” is now “from the rising of the sun to its setting.” This is a clear echo of the words given in the Book of the Prophet Malachi.

Peter Jennings: Is there much difference in the liturgical character of the new translation?

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, OSB: Many scientific disciplines express their theories and ideas with the help of a specialised vocabulary.  One such well-known example is the language of the medical profession which is not necessarily the language of every day.  So likewise theology and liturgy also have their own language and specialised vocabulary.  Those words which may not be familiar, terms like consubstantial, will need explanation.  This is the role of catechesis.

Understanding the Roman Missal – the New Translation is available from CTS priced £1.95

Introduction of the new Roman Missal – Questions and Answers is available in packs of 25 priced £5.95


Of related interest:

Introductory Missal – An extract of the full Altar Missal, for daily use during the introductory period from September to the first Sunday of Advent 2011.
LT01 Companion to the Order of Mass – The new English language translation of the Missal uncovers many links between Scripture and the Liturgy that have hitherto been obscured. Mgr Harbert explores the meaning and import of the words of the Mass, reading them in their original context in the Bible.
New translation of the Roman Missal – Understanding the changes –This easy-to-read leaflet considers the biblical and liturgical character of the new translation and the benefits it brings.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments on “New English Missal: We need not fear specialised vocabulary in the Mass

  1. I notice the rubric for receiving Holy Communion on the CTS laminate speaks only of approaching in a reverent procession.The laminate produced by John F. Neale has the rubric: “the communicants come forward in reverent procession, and make a preparatory act of reverence by bowing their head in honour of Christ’s presence in the Sacrament.” Which is correct. What is the official position? Thank you.

    • Thanks for getting in touch. We have been notified about this rubric, which was text we received from the Bishops’ Conference and we will be amending it for future reprints. We do not yet know the exact words of the amended version, so we cannot say which one is correct.

      Many thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *