Comme le prévoit: an anniversary

January 25 is the 41st anniversary of the promulgation of Comme le prévoit, a carefully formulated document approved by Pope Paul VI, stipulating that a dynamic-equivalence approach should be taken in the translation of liturgical texts.

(See the text of the document here; Gil Ostdiek's fine overview of the text here; John Baldovin's essay on liturgical translation in the journal America here; and Todd Flowerday's commentary on the document here. Note that Todd's commentary comes up in reverse order of publication.)

Unfortunately, the fruit of Comme le prévoit and its application in the translation of the Roman Missal in the late nineties never saw the light of day.

In 2001 another document on translation, Liturgiam authenticam, was issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Liturgiam authenticam insisted on a literal translation of all Latin texts.

These documents are relevant to my recent post on the link to the USCCB page on the forthcoming new edition of the Roman Missal. The links above may go farther than the casual reader may want to follow but for those who are already familiar with the titles Comme le prévoit and Liturgiam authenticam, this day marks a significant anniversary and deserves mention and attention.

As they say, "Some things are lost in translation..."

Image source: FleurFisher


CP Fan said...

Wondering if you have been following Michael Ryan's ideas about this? You can read about it at this America Magazine articl link:


Would love to know what you think!

Bernie said...

Father most things are lost in translation and I love tradition especially in my beloved church in fact I still pray to accept the changes made by the Vatican in the sixties.....Thank you

ConcordPastor said...

CP Fan/T: While I admire Ryan's effort I have to agree with some of his critics that it's not based on a good foundation.

When considering the questions involved here, invoking a rather vague "spirit of Vatican II" argument isn't a solid enough platform. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and a number of post-Conciliar documents include expectations that have been been largely ignored in many places. Many changes are attributed to "Vatican II" that were never mandated or approved by Conciliar or post-Conciliar documents.

I'm not looking to turn those changes around but one needs to be skilled in arguing these questions and savvy about what the documents actually say - and don't say.

Anonymous said...

Haven't had a chance to read all of the links yet, but wondered if you studied these when you were at Notre Dame?


ConcordPastor said...

When I was at ND Liturgiam authenticam
had not yet been issued.

Anonymous said...

et Comme le Prevoit? It had been published!


ConcordPastor said...

Yes, I read CLP when I was at Notre Dame.

CP Fan said...

I should have inquired not just about Ryan's ideas, but also about his strategy - "What if we said 'wait'"... any thoughts?

ConcordPastor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ConcordPastor said...

It will be interesting to see what different dioceses do in preparation for this, including my own diocese of Boston. Our Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission was recently disbanded and, to my knowledge, no new group has been assembled.

As with all changes, these will be incorporated in different ways, to different degrees in individual parishes. Parishes with missalettes will, of course, automatically have the revised texts in the pews.

The strategy proposed is, I think, along the lines of standing on RR tracks in front of an oncoming locomotive and shouting, "Stop!" Now if the train is far enough away, the engineer might see you in time to apply the breaks. But this train has been bearing down on us for several years and Bishop Trautman was about the only one out on the tracks and he was largely ignored by his episcopal brothers and the rest of us.

The train is now only a couple hundred yards away and it ain't stopping.

The Ryan strategy came too late after its potential for making a difference.

Anonymous said...

Do you know how long it will be before these changes are introduced in the USA?

I am very disappointed that Bishop Trautman wasn't listened to by his episcopal brothers. I don't know what "the rest of us" could have done to prevent this from happening. We seem to have so little voice in any church matters. Also, I would guess that the number of people in the pews that is even aware of these upcoming changes is minimal. When each diocese announces them, it will be interesting to see the reaction. Will people accept the changes without questioning them? I would hope that people would at least engage in a discussion about the changes and not just swallow whole what is being imposed upon them.


Irish Crone said...

Rosemary - thank you for calling my attention to Comme le Prevoit, which I had missed along the way! I did indeed send myself on a journey starting in 325 and dealing with Nicene and Apostles Creeds through centuries and Christian denominations. (I should have been cleaning the cellar - a Sisyphean challenge anyhow!) Anyway, the proposed version of the Nicene Creed does seem very close to the Tridentine.
In my youth we used missals with the Latin on one side of the page and the English on the other. One of the references did the same. I can't argue that "consubstantial" and "incarnate of" are not closer to literal translations of the Latin than "one in being with" and "born of" but are they as comprehensible to modern English speakers? And why get into all this now? The Church has many problems to face.

Celtic Crone said...

I fcrgot my nom de blogge! Yes, it's still "Celtic Crone".