Unlike the original Latin texts, all the translations have been undertaken (or in the case of OCR, reviewed and substantially revised) by one person. There is therefore consistency of approach to the translation of all six texts of the Customary included here, and the two sets of Additions to OCR.

Translation is not a precise art, even when there is rigour and accuracy of the kind applied here. There are fundamental differences between Latin and English as languages, which have a constant impact on the translation process. More particularly, the medieval writers of the Customary were working in a specialised, professional field, with its own terminology including special or contextualised use of otherwise common words and phrases.

The intention in all the translations is to offer a clear and readable rendering of the Latin. This takes into account the original sentence structure, idiom and meaning, but always seeks for clarity. There are some instances where the insertion of a word or words is necessary to make the meaning clear, and such additions appear within {brackets}. Often it has been necessary to introduce punctuation, and in some cases there may be alternative ways of segmenting a passage by punctuation which may give different emphases or even meanings. And there are other instances where the text is ambiguous or lends itself to alternative readings.

There are also obscure technical terms or usages. These are dealt with in two ways.

  1. There is a global gloss of certain terms which are treated consistently in translation across all the texts: for instance, ‘Quadragesima’ is always presented as ‘Quadragesima’, and not as ‘Lent’, which is often the way in which it is translated elsewhere. This is explained in the global gloss.
  2. In other instances, it is necessary to annotate or gloss a specific term, phrase or clause in the section of the text where it occurs.

This is in marked contrast to the Old Customary, where ordinary Sundays and weekdays were the starting point, and where Office, Processions and Mass were addressed in turn. All the terms included in the global translation gloss are also found in the Glossary. This gives definitions of a wide range of liturgical and ritual terms, and should enable those less familiar with the technical terms found throughout the Customary to get their bearings.