The One Word You Won’t Hear at Mass Anymore

Beginning this Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021, you won’t hear this word at Mass. It’s not a big change and it’s possible you might not notice it at all. The translation to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is being amended to exclude the word “one” before “God” at the conclusion of the collect prayers.

On February 4, the Committee on Divine Worship for the USCCB sent a note to dioceses in the United States, informing them of the change.

The Latin words “Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum” had, until now, been translated in English as “one God, for ever and ever.” Beginning February 17, they will simply read “God, for ever and ever.”

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales instituted the same change in November of last year. In a note about the amended translation, the English bishops explained, “The addition of ‘one’ could be construed as mistaken or problematic. On the one hand, it could serve to undermine the statement of the unique dignity of the Son within the Trinity which the Latin formulae so strongly convey. On the other hand, it could be interpreted as saying that Jesus is ‘one God.’ Either or both of these interpretations is injurious to the faith of the Church.”

This change to the English translation occurred after Cardinal Robert Sarah brought his concern about the translation to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) in a letter back in May of 2020. He noted that the Latin has no mention of the word “one”.

Other translations to the Roman Missal—French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese—likewise do not mention the word “one”. This change will bring the English translation closer to the original Latin and in line with other major language groups.

US Bishops of the Latin rite voted in favor of the change and the USCCB Congregation for Divine Worship approved it.

Lindsey Kettner serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a wife, mother, and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied journalism and advertising. She writes daily at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.