New Words for Worship Part 15: The Apostles’ Creed

New Words for Worship Part 15: The Apostles’ Creed
The Apostles’ Creed is seldom recited at Mass because the rubrics (ritual directions) in the current Missal restrict its use to celebrations of Masses with children.
The new Missal encourages much wider use of the Apostles’ Creed: “Instead of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, especially during Lent and Easter time, the baptismal Symbol of the Roman Church, known as the Apostles’ Creed, may be used”.
The Apostles’ Creed, in a slightly simpler form, was the official baptismal creed of the Church of Rome from the end of the second century. The title “Apostles’ Creed” arose because of a legend that it had been composed by the twelve apostles.
The form normally used on Sundays and solemnities is known commonly as the Nicene Creed. Actually, it is not the Creed from the Council of Nicea in the year 325, but a summary of the faith expressed by that council and the Councils of Constantinople in 381 and Chalcedon in 451. Its correct title is “Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed”.
The Creed was first used only in the celebration of baptism and was later added to the prayers of the daily office. It did not become part of the celebration of Mass in Roman until the eleventh century.
The Nicene Creed is very long and complex and was not written for public profession. The revised version is causing some consternation, especially the phrase “consubstantial with the Father” which replaces the present “of one Being with the Father”.
It is possible that implementation of the revised translation will bring with it a shift from the Nicene Creed to the shorter and less theological Apostles’ Creed as the norm for the Profession of Faith at Mass. The former of course will not be lost as it will remain the basis of theological reflection and catechetical instruction.
The most notable aspect of the revised translation of the Apostles’ Creed is the change from “He descended to the dead” to “He descended into hell”. The meaning of the latter is explained in the Catechism: “By the expression ‘He descended into hell’, the Apostles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil ‘who has the power of death’ (Heb 2:14). [#636]
The new translation of the Apostles' Creed is as follows:
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.


Elizabeth Harrington