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Latin - Introduction

In the document Sacrosanctum Concilium, the first of the sixteen documents issued by the second Vatican Council and promulgated on 4th December 1963, we read in Article 36:

§ 1. The use of the Latin tongue is to be maintained in the Latin rites, except where some special law obtains.
§ 2. However, in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments and other parts of the Liturgy, the use of the vernacular can not infrequently be very useful to the people. Therefore, it would be well to grant it some considerable place, above all in the readings and addresses to the congregation, in some prayers and chants ...

Also in Article 54 we read:

It should be possible to give a fitting place to the vernacular in Masses celebrated with a congregation, especially in the readings and the bidding prayer, and also, depending on local conditions, as laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.
Provision should be made, however, to see that the faithful can say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass that concern them.

it is clear, then, that the Council did not wish Latin to be completely replaced by vernacular languages and that the we should be able to sing or say the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which concern us. Accordingly, in Leatherhead it is our practice to sing the Kyrie, Gloria (except, of course, in Advent and Lent), the Creed, the Sanctus ('Holy, holy, holy …'), the Lord's Prayer and the Agnus Dei ('Lamb of God) in Latin at the 10.00 am Mass on the first Sunday of each month. Also normally a Latin Mass is said on Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm where everything is said or sung in Latin except for the scripture readings, homily and bidding prayers.

On the next few pages you will find:

How to pronounce Latin
A guide to the pronunciation of ecclesiastical Latin (this is a little different from Classical Latin of Cicero and Caesar).
Ordinary of the Mass 1
Those parts which are said or sung both on the 1st Sunday of the month in Leatherhead, and on the Thursday evening Mass:
the Kyrie, Sanctus, Pater Noster (Our Father) and Agnus die (Lamb of God).
Ordinary of the Mass 2
Those parts which are sung on the 1st Sunday of the month in Leatherhead, but not normally on the Thursday evening Mass:
Gloria and Credo (I believe).
Ordinary of the Mass 3
The remaining parts of the Ordinary of the Mass that are said by the faithful at the Thursday evening Mass in Leatherhead.
Summary of Grammar
A summary of the grammatical forms encountered in the three pages above, with a little extra!

For each chant or prayer on the "Ordinary of the Mass" pages, we give:

These pages are not intended to teach you how to write Latin nor, indeed, how to read Latin generally (though they may encourage you to try to read other passages); they are intended only to help in understanding those parts of the Latin Mass which are said or sung by the faithful.

Some, indeed, may wish to use only the interlinear translations and not concern themselves with any of the grammar. The grammatical notes and the 'Summary of Grammar' are given for those who want to go deeper into the language.


We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.