Where did the new Mass translations come from? [Added 11-2011]

[Added 11-2011]
Bryan Cones


How did we arrive at this translation of the Mass?

As Catholics in the United States get accustomed to new responses and prayers at Sunday Mass, many will probably ask: Why did the Mass change? The answers have to do with changes to the Latin text upon which the English translation is based and on the rules according to which the translations are made.

When the bishops at the Second Vatican Council decided that at least parts of the liturgy should be in the language of the people, they determined that national groups (“conferences”) of bishops should prepare translations of the Latin texts in the vernacular. Because English is widely used throughout the world, bishops from English-speaking countries created one translation group, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which gathered translators, poets, biblical scholars, and others to produce the English texts of the Mass and other sacraments.

ICEL was guided by a 1969 instruction from the Consilium, the Vatican commission in charge of implementing the liturgical reform. This document, Comme le prevoit, gave translators the freedom to adapt the translation of the Latin text so that its meaning would be clearer in the vernacular. So, for example, the response of the people to the priest, “Et cum spiritu tuo,” which literally means “And with your spirit,” became “And also with you,” which has the same meaning as the Latin (if not the exact wording) but is more straightforward in modern English.


This is an excerpt of an article from US Catholic. Click here to read the entire article. The article is © 2011 – US Catholic.