The reading of secular poems or non-biblical readings during wedding Masses has been discouraged by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales.
New translations for the Order of Confirmation and the Order of Celebrating Matrimony will be introduced in churches across England and Wales on Easter Sunday next year.
The bishops announced on Monday that they have approved the new translations of the sacramental texts and reminded couples preparing for marriage that “the structure, texts and how the liturgy is celebrated are laid down.”
They added: “Any reading in the Liturgy of the Word should be taken from scripture (the Bible) and cannot be replaced by another text.”
In their the summary of the new translation of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony, the bishops have included a section entitled: “Can I have my favourite poem?”
The document answers: “Every wedding liturgy is unique… It is also a celebration of the Church which means that the structure, texts and how the liturgy is celebrated are laid down.
“Any reading in the Liturgy of the Word should be taken from scripture (the Bible) and cannot be replaced by another text. In a similar way any music played or sung should normally be taken from the Church’s long and living tradition of music. Texts should be expressive of the faith of Church.”
It concludes: “It is important to remember that the Marriage liturgy is one of a sequence of events that make up the whole of the Wedding Celebration. It is not therefore necessary that a favourite poem or song is included within the liturgy; it may be better placed within the wedding reception”
The new translation will be published in January 2016 by the Catholic Truth Society and will be used from Easter 2016.
Among the changes introduced for nuptial Masses, is the requirement that at least one of the readings must explicitly mention marriage, such as St John’s account of the Wedding at Cana.
When marriage is celebrated within Mass, a Gloria will now be said or sung to mark the festivity of the occasion.
Under the new translation of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony is also a blessing for engaged couples and a blessing for married couples on their anniversary.
The second edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony was promulgated in Latin in 1991 and the text introduced next year will be the first English translation of this text.
The contents of the rite of the new Order of Confirmation will be the same as before.
The bishops’ guidance states: “Following the Second Vatican Council the first Latin edition of the Ordo Confirmationis was published in 1969 and the initial English translation published shortly afterwards. There has not been a second Latin edition of the rite so this is a new translation of the same Latin text. The contents of the rite are therefore the same.”
Since 2002 the Church has been committed to new translations of each of the liturgical rites.
The first to be released was the new translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal which came into use in 2010.