In order that the word of God written in the sacred texts may be conserved and transmitted in an integral and faithful manner, every modern
translation of the books of the Bible aims at being a faithful and accurate transposition of the original texts. Such a literary effort requires that
the original text be translated with the maximum integrity and accuracy, without omissions or additions with regard to the contents, and without
introducing explanatory glosses or paraphrases which do not belong to the sacred text itself. COMMITTEE ON DIVINE WORSHIP
8 August 2008
Your Eminence / Your Excellency,
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has sent the attached
letter containing several directives on the use of “the Name of God” in the Sacred Liturgy.
We welcome this guidance on the use of particular terminology for the Divine Name, as it helps
to emphasize the theological accuracy of our language and appropriate reverence for the Name of
God so consistent in our tradition. While the directives contained here do not force any changes
to official liturgical texts, including our continuing work of the translation of the Missale
Romanum, editio typica tertia, which already follow the spirit of the directives, there may be
some impact on the use of particular pieces of liturgical music in our country as well as in the
composition of variable texts such as the General Intercessions for the celebration of the Mass
and the other sacraments.
Notwithstanding such a clear norm, in recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel's proper name, known as the holy or
divine Tetragrammaton, written with four consonants of the Hebrew alphabet in the form (see PDF file), YHWH. The practice of vocalizing it is met with
both in the reading of biblical texts taken from the Lectionary as well as in prayers and hymns, and it occurs in diverse written and spoken forms
such as, for example, Yahweh, Yahwe, Jahweh, Jahwe, Jave, Yehovah, etc. It is therefore our intention with the present letter to set out some
essential facts which lie behind the above-mentioned norm and to establish some directives to be observed in this matter.
2. The venerable biblical tradition of sacred Scripture, known as the Old Testament, displays a series of divine appellations, among which is the
sacred name of God revealed in the Tetragrammaton YHWH (see PDF file). As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to
be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: Adonai, which means
This instruction from the Congregation provides also an opportunity to offer catechesis for the
faithful as an encouragement to show reverence for the Name of God in daily life, emphasizing
the power of language as an act of devotion and worship.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli
Bishop of Paterson