The New Mass Translation: Commentary on the Eucharistic prayer

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This morning, we are going to look a little more closely at Dom Cuthbert Johnson OSB’s booklet, Understanding the Roman Missal – the New Translation, a reflective guide to the new Mass translation that we will all be using later this year.

Before we do this, here is a word about the author. After a distinguished professorial career teaching liturgy, 2002 saw Abbot Cuthbert appointed Liturgical/Theological Advisor to the Vox Clara Committee for the examination of the English Translation of the Roman Missal.

He is, therefore, a perfect candidate for helping us understand the changes. He has been busy of late – since, in this very month, Abbot Cuthbert took up the post of Chaplain at Tyburn Convent, in order to have access to the specialised libraries of London so he can continue his Liturgical studies in the service of the Church.

We asked him where the inspiration for this new guide came from.

“This small commentary on the new Translation which I have prepared for the CTS has been done in the spirit of my spiritual mentor Abbot Prosper Gueranger, who did so much to bring an understanding of the Liturgy to the faithful. While founded on a solid theological and liturgical basis, this commentary is primarily spiritual in its scope.”

An example

To illustrate this, here is a little part of the guide, on the Eucharistic prayer:


Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

In chapter 3 of the Book of Lamentations which speaks of hope for God’s people, we read “Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven”. The raising of hearts and hands indicates the total self-giving to prayer without distraction.

This is affirmed by Saint Cyprian who tells us that “when we stand praying, we ought to be watchful and earnest with our whole heart, intent on our prayers. Let all carnal and worldly thoughts pass away, nor let the soul at that time think on anything but the object only of its prayer.”

For this reason also the priest, by way of preface before his prayer, prepares the minds of the brethren by saying, “Lift up your hearts,” that so upon the people’s response, “We lift them up unto the Lord,” he may be reminded that he himself ought to think of nothing but the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.

“Eucharist” comes from the Greek word for thanks. “Let us give thanks” at this moment of the liturgy takes on a special significance. The call to give thanks in the Preface is a pre-intonation of making the offering of the Eucharist. The assent of the people is taken up by the celebrant and becomes the opening words of the Eucharistic Prayer.


The new English translation of the Mass will begin to be used in parishes from September 2011. Understanding the Roman Missal – the New Translation by Dom Cuthbert Johnson, is available from CTS priced £1.95. (Available from June).


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.

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2 comments on “The New Mass Translation: Commentary on the Eucharistic prayer

  1. It is very difficult to respond to an opinion which confines itself to the semi-expletive “sucks”. For someone who is tragically only able to articulate at this level, the Missal probably does “suck”. And thank the good Lord for it.

  2. the new roman missal SUCKS!

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