ICEL-1973 and ICEL-2010: what do they mean?

What is ICEL?

ICEL is the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.  It is a group set up by the Roman Catholic bishops from countries where English is used in Roman-rite liturgies.  It is responsible for working on English-language translations of the Mass and other Catholic liturgies.

  • ICEL-1973
    Refers to the translation of the Catholic Mass that was released in 1973.  Currently (late 2010), this is the version that is used throughout the English-speaking world.
  • ICEL-2010
    Refers to the translation of the Catholic Mass that was recognised in 2010.   

A file called "Holy Holy - ICEL-1973" contains the English-language words of the Sanctus from the translation that was approved in 1973.

Where did ICEL-2010 come from?

A very short history of the versions of the Roman Catholic Mass has a one-page diagram showing ICEL-2010 in context, starting from Jewish temple worship and moving through Council of Trent and Vatican II to the current day.

When should ICEL-2010 versions be used?

Bishops around the world will decide when ICEL-2010 will start to be used in their areas:  some may start in Advent 2010, others have said that they will start using it in 2011, others have yet to decide.   Check the websites of local bishops conferences for information about implementation dates.

It's not yet 100% clear whether the approved Mass parts for ICEL-2010 (ie the Glory to God, Holy Holy, etc) will be the same in all countries, or whether there will be come regional variations.   So it's possible that there will be ICEL-2010-UK and ICEL-2010-USA versions of the same prayer.

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