Missal Changes, Part Two: The Gloria and the Creed

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The Catholic English-speaking world is gearing up for the new liturgical year that brings changes to the prayers at Mass, beginning this Advent. This is the first major revision to the English Mass since 1973.

Naturally, there will be a period of adjustment for everyone, so now is a good time to prayerfully consider what these changes are, and how we benefit from them.

While most of the changes affect the priestly prayers of the Mass, there are some changes that will update the prayers prayed by worshippers in the pew. This week, we'll examine the Gloria and the Creed, two key prayers undergoing the biggest changes.

The Gloria
Let's look at the current translation, and then the new translation, examining the new changes.

bibleCurrent translation:

Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to his people on earth

Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ,
only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin
of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated
at the right hand of the Father
receive our prayer

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High
Jesus Christ,
With the Holy Spirit
in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

New translation (with changes in bold):

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory.

Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God
Son of the Father,
you take away the sins
of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins
of the world
receive our prayer;
you are seated
at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
With the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

The first thing you notice is that there are more words in the new translation of the Gloria. Let's look at the meaning behind the increased word count.

The opening line of the new Gloriamodifies the current translation by changing the final phrase of that sentence. These new words are a direct import from the Gospel of Luke.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will (Lk. 2:14).

This line takes us back in time to Bethlehem, and the exultation of the angels at Christ's birth. In this prayer, we rejoice alongside the shepherds who first heard the Good News of the savior, thanks to this glorious message communicated by "the multitude of the heavenly hosts" (Lk. 2:13). This angelic reminder from the first Christmas is our cue—just as it was to the shepherds—that something fabulous and miraculous is afoot!

Building on that realization, a longer form of praise follows.

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory.

Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.

These new additional words translate what is found in the Latin text, bringing our prayer in line with that of the universal Church. But since these words are "new" to English-speaking Catholics, there is more to consider.

In this part of the Gloria, we acknowledge that, like the shepherds long ago, here within the Mass we too are standing amidst the powerful and sublime glory of God. If the additional words seem excessive and overdone, well, indeed they should be. They announce what should be our proper awe before God as we meet His divine presence in Mass. Certainly we can afford to be more generous in our worship language.