In the old Latin Masses, were the readings in Latin or English?

I am just wondering is there is anyone on these forums who remembers or was told about the old Latin Mass prior to Vatican II and whether the readings were in English or in Latin? I know the homily would be in English but how about the readings?

The Latin Scripture readings were the norm but sometimes were read a second time in English, prior to Vatican II.

I still have my missal from 1949. The readings were in English. I never heard a reading in Latin.

In many places, it was customary for the readings to be repeated in the native language before the homily by the Priest. In many TLMs held today, that is how it is done. :slight_smile: Also, many people had hand missals to follow along which generally contained the readings in the native language.


That’s the way my missal is. In my case, the native language is English.

I grew up in a Jesuit parish in Miami, Florida and attended its Parochial School until the
9th grade. The Gospel was always said in Latin in the context of the Mass. However on Holy Days, Sundays, and special events (Funerals and Weddings) when a sermon was preached, the Gospel was red in English or Spanish (it was and still is South Florida, after all).

All Mass readings were facing liturgical east or north (Gospel) using Scripture from the Clementine Bible. Homily epistle and Gospel when recited, used the DR if homily was in English.

My memory goes back to the early 40’s. [All in English speaking parishes in the Northeast.] The Epistle was read in Latin, standing to the congregation’s right and facing the altar. The server then moved the book to the left side where the Gospel was read, again facing the altar.

As a small altar boy, with a long cassock, it was an adventure to pick up that big book with its heavy stand, walk down the steps [with the book obscuring my view], genuflect to the altar, walk back up the steps and place the book on the left. Never did trip, but it was close a couple of times.

For Sundays and Holy days the priest usually then read the Gospel in English facing the people and sometimes added a sermon. On rare occasions he might also read the Epistle; I don’t recall tat happening more than a dozen times or so in some 20 years.

This is not a “was” and neither do we really need anyone to remember as it was “then”. That Mass is still celebrated and many of us on the forums still attend it.

The customary practice on Sundays is to say the readings in Latin at their proper places and then right before the sermon/homily, they are re-read in the vernacular.

In my Parish we had them in both

Also, why did Priests turn their backs on the congregation during Mass?

Because he was leading the people in worship of God.

The Sun rises from the east.
The symbol of light and the Sun is found many times in Christian liturgy. Looking eastward celebrates the mystery of Christ until He comes again. The light of the Sun on the altar during the Eucharist refers to the Sun from Psalms 18:6 (DRC).[INDENT]He hath set his tabernacle in the sun: and he, as a bridegroom coming out of his bride chamber, Hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way:


If they read them in English in my parish, very few people would understand them any better than if they were in Latin :wink:

Good answers were provided by Vico and Joe Kelley. Also, remember most of the time the priest is really addressing God, not the congregation. Thus, or so it seems to me, it would make more sense for him to face Jesus on the crucifix or in the tabernacle then the people. Notice that when he says things like Dominus Vobiscum- the Lord be with you- with you being the congregation, he turns towards them.

Thanks you! I wondered about Latin readings but it is good to learn that they were done in Latin yet many parishes did both or as least had available an English translation in the missal.:slight_smile:

I didn’t mean to apply a now and in the past as I know some parishes still have the Latin mass.

It was mentioned that sometimes they had a homily so was the homily left out or not as long as they are today due to the readings?

In addition to the other answers already given, it’s not about the priests turning their backs to the people. It’s about all of us facing the same direction, which is to God, symbolized by the crucifix.

In addition to the other answers already given, it’s not about the priests turning their backs to the people. It’s about all of us facing the same direction, which is to God, symbolized by the crucifix.

It must also be mentioned that despite the practice of the vast majority of churches that celebrate the modern rite of the Mass, this position, i.e. facing the same direction, is actually the normative one, and facing the people is an option.

In the St. Joseph missal, all they had were the English readings.

It was like having training wheels without the bike.

On Sundays and holy days, there were sermons. A homily is a sermon that is about sacred scripture, typically the readings of the day. After Vatican II, homilies became the norm, called for in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Pre-V2, many of the sermons were about the scriptural readings of the day, but often they were catechetical in nature, explaining the teachings of the Church, the saints, etc.

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