Beauty & the Beast: 2008 vs. 2010, Page One

by Xavier Rindfleisch

Word is getting around that this Xavier Rindfleisch guy has the inside scoop on the translation mess and is bound determined to let the story out. Here is his analysis of two Advent orations:

Beauty and Beast: 2008 vs. 2010, Page One

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28 comments

  1. Here for comparison are the WDTPRS (Fr. Zuhlsdorf), 2010, 2008, and 1973 versions of the 1st Sunday of Advent Prayer after Communion:

    WDTPRS
    We beg You, O Lord, may they be profitable for us,
    these oft celebrated sacramental mysteries, by which You established that we, walking amidst the things that are passing away,
    would now in this very moment love heavenly things and cleave to the things that will endure.

    2010
    May these mysteries, O Lord,
    in which we have participated, profit us, we pray,
    for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
    you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
    and hold fast to what endures.

    2008
    May the mysteries we have celebrated
    profit us, we pray, O Lord, for even now,
    as we journey through this passing world,
    you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
    and hold fast to what will endure.

    1973
    Father, may our communion
    teach us to love heaven.
    May its promise and hope
    guide our way on earth.

    (continued)

  2. The WDTPRS version is presented as a “slavishly literal” translation with no attempt at smoothness.

    Is it not the case that the difference between WDTPRS, 2010, and 2008 versions are pretty minor in comparison with the 1973 version (which does not even approximate what the prayer really says)?

    I myself would slightly prefer 2008 over 2010 in this particular case. However, each is such a vast improvement over the kindergarten language of the comparatively vacuous 1973 version that one might well ask how much more than the proverbial “dime’s worth of difference” there is between them.

    Confronted with an example like this, I must confess to some mystification as to the motives of those who produce crocodile tears over 2008 vs. 2010.

    And–having compared in minute detail the Latin and available English translations of the three proper orations for each Sunday Mass of the year–I suspect this example gives a fair impression of the vast improvement in accuracy and faithfulness in meaning of either 2008 or 2010 over 1973.

    1. +JMJ+

      I assure you my displeasure at the change from the 2008 to 2010 translation is not at all insincere. I am not pleased with the 1973 text, but the 2010 text, while better in certain regards, is not as good as the 2008 text.

  3. “Confronted with an example like this, I must confess to some mystification as to the motives of those who pretend to crocodile tears over 2008 vs. 2010.”

    My motive in being upset with the 2010 revisions is that I desperately would like the implementation of the revised missal to be successful so that the faithful have access to the full meanings of the Missal text and are more connected in prayer with the universal Church. While an opportunity for catechesis and renewal, it will nonetheless be a challenging time. The faithful deserve the Church’s best effort in this matter. The 2008 translation was approved by the bishop’s conferences and by every measure (including by LA standards) a superior text. It’s as if those making the revisions are trying to derail the whole project.

  4. Jeff, I agree with everything you say. But my mystification over those crocodile tears (whether real or feigned) remains. On the basis of what I’ve seen, 2008 offers the greater promise for renewal and whatever the relative merits, I’m uneasy about 2010 in the absence of any sensible explanation of the current process. However, since either 2008 or 2010 will be an improvement beyond words in fullness of meaning over what we’ve had, it seems to me that “trainwreck” language about small differences smacks of some hidden agenda.

  5. As someone who trains cantors, I routinely teach people how to break apart complex sentences in order to render them intelligible in public declamation. I have to say, I am generally unmoved by accusations of ‘clunky’ or awkward sentence structure in this whole translation debate. After reading through the above examples (2008 and 2010) a number of times out loud, I realized that it is certainly possible to render both elegantly.

    If you think 2010 is clunky, try reading great English literature out loud sometime. Try making Dickens’ paragraph-long sentences intelligible – it takes some skill and practice. Those who speak in public as an occupation need to realize it is a skill to be practiced. Yes, priests will need to practice reading the new texts(out loud). I’m not consumed by grief for them…however I’m afraid many won’t make the effort and will blame the translations for the resulting verbal train wreck.

    This post is only in response to accusations of clunkiness – I can’t speak to technical Latin questions since I’m not a Latin scholar.

    Also, in this case I agree that the meaning changes in the 2010 – God teaches us by passing things, rather than by the mysteries we participate in. When I first read the 2010 I thought it was a lovely image – God teaching us through the pain of experiencing fleeting things to hope for eternal things. It’s a nice image, and the immediate and clear meaning of the 2010 text. Elocution can’t solve that…

    1. +JMJ+

      But Dickens didn’t write liturgical orations for the Roman Rite, and the Missal’s orations are not Dickensian prose. They might both require careful reading (and parsing), but I don’t think Dickens is the model for English translation of these prayers.

      1. A further question here is whether or not Dickens was intended to be read aloud. It was largely not. What the mind can comprehend via reading versus via proclamation are two different realities.

        That being said, I would submit that perhaps the best way to offer these prayers, if we’re really stuck with them, would be in sung form. Chant certainly permits the “breaking apart” of longer sentences into smaller parts which are more easily digested by the ear, mind and heart. And, besides, is not the restoration of the sung liturgy among the common goals of liturgical renewal?

        Like Jared, I too am addressing merely the “clunkiness” argument, not the quality of the translation itself, which I fear in a number of instances, based on what some very qualified folks are saying, is quite deficient.

  6. CHE: there ya go, “At least …”

    Watsamatta: can’t bring yourself to admit that Vox Clara, the Congregation, and Msgr Maroney have dropped the ball big time on this?

  7. You also conveniently forget that the 1973 was also intended to be provisional and was adequately updated in 1996-1998 when it was suddenly “forgotten”.

    So easy to pick and choose your comparisons.

  8. Jeremy, may be. But direct comparisons like mine above speak for themselves without being colored by emotional “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” reactions all out of proportion to any objective reality.

    Anyone who can read English can compare for himself the 2008, 2010, and 1973 propers for every Sunday of the year with the “slavishly literal” meanings of the Latin originals. For this purpose I have for some time maintained the site

    http://www.knoxlatinmass.net/wdtprs/

    where a separate page for each Sunday lists the Latin and literal English propers side by side for ready comparison of meanings. The WDTPRS translations have the merit for this sole purpose of making no attempt whatever at smooth and proclaimable prayers, thus concentrating solely on “slavish accuracy” and fullness of meaning.

  9. CHE: so as a Latin Mass advocate, you don’t much care which way the new translation comes out, huh?

    Defend for me, if you can, not only 2010’s mistranslations, but the very obvious and serious errors with English grammar and syntax.

    Admit it, whoever did the revisions was or is just plain dumb.

    Reading over Mgr Maroney’s kind of testy responses to Fr Anthony Ruff, my moneys on him. I bet you he made the revisions himself and now he wants to push it all onto the Congregation.

    Weird huh nobody knows nothing as they say.

  10. Worth throwing in 1998: it’s interestingly halfway between 1973 (which even I think is pretty awful) and the more recent texts.

    Accept, Lord, our offerings,
    chosen from among your many gifts,
    and let this present expression of our reverence
    become for us the pledge of eternal redemption.

    Lord our God,
    grant that in our journey through this passing world
    we may learn from these mysteries
    to cherish even now the things of heaven
    and to cling to the treasures that never pass away.

    But the real sadness here is that the alternative prayers for the three year cycle got dumped. There you had some proper English poetry.

  11. So CHE let me get this straight. Anyone who is upset about all the bad translations and poor English in 2010 isn’t really sincere?

    According to your website you’re a Latin Mass promoter so why should we take anything you say sincerely?

    1. “According to your website you’re a Latin Mass promoter so why should we take anything you say sincerely?”

      What does being a Latin Mass promoter have to do with anything? Are you the Joseph McCarthy of liturgy?

  12. And the actual fulfillment of the Vatican II SC liturgical principles. Think of all of the alternative prayers and rituals for various sacraments and special circumstances with each sacramental event.

  13. I think EVERYBODY agrees that the 1973 propers are sawdust — I always compose my own postcommunion prayer. The 1998 prayers are what we should be looking to in making judgments on the horrible new 2008 and 2010 compositions. So I agree with Mr De Haas: “You also conveniently forget that the 1973 was also intended to be provisional and was adequately updated in 1996-1998 when it was suddenly “forgotten”.”

  14. Rindfleisch notes the obvious, that “by them” changes its meaning in the 2010 text, referring to the just mentioned “passing things” rather than the “mysteries” — or else it is ambiguous, which is not a good quality of a liturgical prayer.

  15. While I appreciate your posting of Xavier’s writings here, my question is:
    Are his critiques making their way to those who actually have a say in this process (bishops, BCDW, etc.)? Or are they simply left here in cyberspace where, ultimately, they make no difference (besides making for interesting conversation)? Please enlighten….

    1. Frank:

      With the greatest of respect, most bishops are not cyber-savvy enough to get to this blog, nor do many of them have the attention span to read and understand what XR writes.

      Can I suggest that you make XR’s work known to your Ordinary, and as many other bishops as you can?

      And that goes for everyone else reading this, too.

      1. Chris, despite your claim of “the greatest of respect” your continuous tone of disrespect for certain priests and most bishops is most distasteful. Suspecting that most Bishops are not cyber-savvy is reasonable, based on the age of many Bishops. But the idea that any of them could not read a few pages of the mythical X. Rindfleisch’s stuff is simply absurd, and unkind.

  16. John Drake:

    “the greatest of respect” was clearly and obviously addressed to Frank, and did not refer to the bishops!

    XR is not mythical, just a pen name.

    (Incidentally, if you’ve ever had to submit a document or more to one or more bishops for their consideration, they will frequently ask you to ‘keep it to one page’ … and XR’s first offering ALONE was 16 pages long! Many of the bishops – some say a majority – claim they voted on the various ICEL drafts without having read them … )

    You might think me absurd and unkind, but, whatever you think, I am also right.

    And, with the greatest of respect, when you’ve apologised for getting both points wrong, mind your own business.

    1. Speaking of grammar, do I understand your last sentence to mean that, until I apologize, I don’t have to mind my own business?

  17. Mr. Drake:

    I am far from mythical.

    While the name may be a pseudonym (and may not be), the 2008 and 2010 texts, which I hold in my hands, are quite real.

    And 2010 is a real mess: unless you are comfortable with mistranslations, deviations from the norms established by Liturgiam authenticam, and mistakes in English grammar and syntax almost too numerous to document.

    Finally, however distasteful you may find Chris Grady’s attitude toward “certain priests and most bishops,” the 2010 debacle is what it is precisely because of “certain priests and most bishops.”

  18. The bishops should indeed hang their heads in shame. They have manifestly betrayed their primary responsibility for divine worship in their dioceses. Now their spinelessness will take them to the point of passively allowing a text containing “mistakes in English grammar and syntax almost too numerous to document” to be imposed on the already demoralized faithful. We will not hear the end of this for many years.

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