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"Ecumenical Texts" in the Missal

Online Edition – October 2006

Vol. XII, No. 7

"Ecumenical Texts" in the Missal

Question: What is the status of the “ecumenical texts” in the new Missal translation?

Ecumenical texts have been used in the current Missal translation of 1973, but do not appear the new ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) translation now in progress. These are: the introductory dialogue (“and also with you”), Kyrie, the Creeds, Gloria, Sanctus (“God of power and might”), Agnus Dei (added tropes and “sin of the world”), the Sursum Corda (“it is right to give Him thanks and praise”).

The “Christ has died…” text used as a Memorial Acclamation is another these early ecumenical productions that have been in use since the 1970s. Though it does not appear either in the Latin Missal or in the new ICEL translation, the US bishops voted in June this year to add the “Christ has died” text as an extra acclamation. However, as an “American Adaptation” this addition requires the approval of the Holy See.

One of these ecumenical texts that was rejected at the time the first translations were approved was the ICET (International Consultation on English Texts) version of the Our Father (“do not bring us to the time of trial”), so the traditional version of this prayer was retained. Other “ecumenical” translations currently used in Catholic books include the Te Deum, Magnificat, Benedictus, and Nunc Dimittis.

ICEL, organized in 1963, was a principal convener and member of these ecumenical translation groups until it was re-structured, in accordance with the Holy See’s directives and the principles of the 2001 Instruction on translation, Liturgiam authenticam. (ICEL’s new Statutes were approved in 2003.)

Here is a brief summary of the “interlocking directorates” of these ecumenical translation groups:

The International Consultation on English Texts (ICET) was formed in 1969, with the encouragement and participation of ICEL (i.e., Msgr. Frederick McManus et al). ICET’s objective was to devise acceptable texts for all the ecclesial bodies involved in this informally structured group. ICET published three editions of “Prayers we Have in Common” (1970, 71, 75) before it disbanded in 1975.

The Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), an ecumenical group formed under ICEL’s leadership in the early 1960s, produced many of these ICET translations. The CCT also produced a Common Lectionary (1983), a Revised Common Lectionary (1992), and other “ecumenical” liturgical texts.

In 1983, ICEL, CCT, and several other smaller English-speaking groups joined in rejuvenating the ecumenical liturgical text effort — and in 1985 these groups formed the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) as the successor to ICET — with a major additional objective to incorporate feminist, or “inclusive”, language in texts used for worship.

In 1988, the ELLC published “Praying Together”, a revision of the ICET “Prayers we have in Common”. (See ELLC web site: http://www.englishtexts.org)

The CCT has members from various Protestant denominations, and in 2005 also listed members of the Secretariat of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy. (CCT web site: http://www.commontexts.org/about/members.html*).

[*Update May 2011: Since this article was published in October 2006, the link to members on the CCT web site, commontexts.org, has been changed. Here is
current link to membership in CCT: http://www.commontexts.org/history/memberslist.html]

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