And also with you!

The supposed in-house joke is that whenever you need to get a lump of Episcopalians to quiet down you bellow out "The Lord be with you!" and everyone shouts back, "and also with you!" Of course it's not just Episcopalians that got used to that response rather than "and with your spirit." The Roman Catholic Mass in English did the same thing. And I suppose just as with those who longed for a return to the 1928 BCP there were RC folk who, even with the move from Latin to English still thought that "and with your spirit" was a better sort of reply.

Well, the new official Roman Catholic Mass will return to "and with your spirit." You can see some of the changes in language HERE. Some of the changes seem quite unnecessary, some are rather odd - recasting the Nicene Creed in "I" form, some involve a reintroduction to the spirit world, "with your spirit" being a case in point. Another "spirit world" reaffirmation being the replacement in the Nicene Creed of "seen and unseen" with "visible and invisible." I believe some of these also involve changes in what was agreed on in the middle of the last century as common texts. So much for common texts.

The site on the Roman Missal is there to acquaint the faithful with the changes already made. When Episcopalians consider changing the Prayer Book it is a process that almost drives us all mad. Changes are proposed, looked at, revised, argued over, worked with, used for a trial period, reintroduced with new changes, voted on once, sent out for further use, and voted on again and if extremely fortunate finally produced for final use. The whole thing is a thirty year effort. The Missal web page indicates the process used by the English language committee (see HERE in sidebar) There is no indication that there was any trial use, but rather submission and examination of texts.

I'm not sure it is better or worse than other ways of doing it, but at least we regular paid up members of the congregation could make our case to keep, "and also with you" if we wished to.

So, dear friends in RC Land... The Lord be with you. (Respond as you wish.)


  1. It is unfortunate but the windows and doors that were thrown open back in 1963 have been slowly closing and being locked. This is just the latest in that process. Heaven forbid (no pun intended) that we should all once and for all get together and work things out like Christian adults.

    Oh, and with your spirit.

    BTW, does that mean that the RC is passing wind?

  2. Deacon Charlie Perrin25/8/09 9:05 AM

    It some ways it would seem to be a further erosion of the actions of Vatican II. Or perhaps they just got tired of hearing how little difference there was between their Mass text and that of us heretics.

  3.      I've always hated it when we use that to mean "Be quiet!" or "May I have your attention?"

  4. The reasoning behind a lot of the changes has to do with a desire to be more faithful to the original Latin text. In 2001 the Vatican issued a new instruction on the translation of liturgical texts, Liturgiam Authenticam. This instruction advocated such things as a more literal method of translation, adherence to the grammar and syntax of the Latin, the use of available words that actually look like the Latin original, and the promotion of a "sacral vernacular." I got to look at the translation of the Ordo Missae last year when taking a class on the Roman Missal (it helps having inside sources) and can say that parts of it are definitely better from a stylistic point of view. The older English translation seemed to me to fall flat when read aloud and missed a lot of the theological richness in the Latin. Often it left me scratching my head when comparing it with the Latin text. At the same time, though, I wouldn't exactly call the new translation "English" but rather some Latinized form of it.

    In addition, common texts don't seem to matter much to the Vatican these days nor does the input of laity, even if they know much more about the process of good and effective translation than the bishops.

    My biggest question, however, about the LA guidelines is how they're going to affect translations into languages that have absolutely no relation to Latin. For example, how do you remain "faithful" to the grammar, syntax, and wording of Latin in Chinese?

  5. I must admit some degree of agnosticism regarding these particular responses. I have for some years attended both Rite I and Rite II services purely for convenience’s sake. In fact I have on occasion forgotten which service I was in and used the “wrong” response. Everyone, including The Almighty I think, knows what I mean.

    Having said that, I’ve always felt the “and with your spirit” was a bit more lyrical and rhythmically balanced. But hey! I can swing both ways on this.

  6. What joke? That call-and-response always works. Well, maybe not total silence and attention (you can't get that even in church), but enough to get on with business.

  7. Father Mark, one reason that this would not have involved anything like the process of producing a new prayer book for an Anglican province, is that the text in Latin was issued by JP2 in 2000, so what they are finally issuing here is the English edition of that agreed upon and promulgated latin liturgy.

    This is more parallel to TEC issuing the Spanish or French edition of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

  8. "...the windows and doors that were thrown open back in 1963 have been slowly closing and being locked."

    Actually, Vatican II's declaration on the liturgy anticipated that the Sunday liturgy would continue to be celebrated in Latin.

    I think the "Documents of Vatican II" has finally become a classic, in the sense of the old definition, a book which everyone thinks they know and which no one actually reads.

  9. The Roman Mass is a Latin text. While vernacular translations are allowed, they are just that, translations of the Latin text. The current effort is designed to produce as accurate a translation from Latin as possible. Maybe it succeeds and maybe it fails, but that's what it is supposed to do.

    In the Protestant world, while various liturgies might be based on earlier texts in the "dead languages," the whole idea of liturgy is that it be in the vernacular. Thus, Cranmer was free not only with his translations, but with introducing and in some cases deleting material from his verions of the Anglican liturgy. So, I can understand to Protestant ears why such a story about the Catholic Mass would sound strange.

    But the Catholic Mass ain't a Protestant liturgy. Vatican II was quite clear on this point. As have all the popes, including Pope John XXIII of blessed memory. The task of a vernacular translation of the Catholic Mass is to accurately and faithfully convey to the faithful the actual Latin text of the liturgy. Now, as Kevin M points out, this isn't always easy -- and not just in Chinese. But that's the goal. And it is a worthy goal, and one that shouldn't be mocked by those who stand as observers and outsiders. It may not be Anglican but after all, that's the point. The Roman Catholic Church isn't Anglican, and it's liturgy shouldn't be judged by Anglican standards.

    And there have been "trial runs" of the new translation in English -- just not here in the U.S. There were trial runs in South Africa and I believe that more trial runs are planned.

  10. Changing the Nicene Creed to "I" statements....?!!! wha'???? I mean, doesn't that kinda change the faith of the Church?

    I am really surprised.

  11. "Changing the Nicene Creed to "I" statements....?!!! wha'????"

    That's why it's called the "Credo" not the "Credemus."

    By the way, the Eastern Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom also begins, "pisteuo," in the first person singular. That's the standard liturgical usage. And of course all those "I's" together add up to a "we," right?

    Much ado about very little, I'm afraid.

  12. Kevin & Mark of Spokane,

    I'd be interested in hearing your comments about what lead Rome to the conclusion that there were inaccuracies in translation from the Latin. Some of the changes show that there was either a shift in the previous Missal, or in this one. For example, the Penitential Act (Form A) is quite different in tenor and tone.

    Mark of S., please don't be offended - the answer wouldn't be mine to argue. Rome has its way, we have ours, and I learned that divide decades ago.

  13. The big change has been a move away from dynamic equivalence in translation to formal equivalence.

    Dynamic equivalence, endorsed in the 1969 instruction Comme le prévoit, attempts to convey the thought expressed in the original text. "To achieve this end, it is not sufficient that a liturgical translation merely reproduce the expressions and ideas of the original text. Rather it must faithfully communicate to a given people, and in their own language, that which the Church by means of this given text originally intended to communicate to another people in another time. A faithful translation, therefore, cannot be judged on the basis of individual words: the total context of this specific act of communication must be kept in mind, as well as the literary form proper to the respective language." (Comme le prévoit, 6)

    Formal equivalence, on the other hand, attempts a more literal, word-for-word translation. "While it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses." (Liturgiam authenticam, 20)

    A really good book dealing with this issue is The Voice of the Church: A Forum on Liturgical Translation.

  14. Lynn,

    Great questions. First, the current English translation of the 1970 Missal of Paul VI (sometimes dismissively called the "Novus Ordo") is in many parts a paraphrase rather than a translation. Take a look at the Gloria used in the English 1970 translation, and compare that not only with the official Latin text but the Spanish and German translations. Those translations adhere far more closely to the Latin than the English one does. Many of the collects are so paraphraisic as to not really be translations at all -- they are new prayers.

    There is all sorts of other stuff of a gramatical nature that could be discussed -- the 1970 translation is very free, for example, in declining to replicate the Latin use of dependent clauses, etc.

    One point: I don't dispute the validity of the Anglican (or Lutheran, for that matter) approach to liturgy. I think within those traditions the approach to liturgy reflects the underlying ethos of the particular expression of Christianity involved. I am a fan of the historic prayer book and the much-maligned 1979 BCP. I just think that the Roman Catholic approach has merit as well.

  15. Keven and Mark, thank you for your thoughtful replies and suggestions for further reading and research.

    Kevin, I skimmed through the Google book preview - there was enough meat to catch my interest. If the local Catholic bookstore doesn't stock it, I'll order it.

    Mark (of S.) I have some friends that are cradle RC and have stayed with the Church. They know well my interest in everything from church history to music in the liturgy. You have helped me discuss this with them in an interesting way, we do try to avoid those little apologist skirmishes (though we find some lively but respectful disagreement can be interesting). is occasionally

  16. Fortunately, something useful did come out of my time served studying theology at Catholic University. . . . I've even more grateful now to be an Episcopalian.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.