Questions about the new liturgy

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, married Catholic priest with wife and family (he was formerly an Anglican priest), supports the new translation – but has questions about its literary quality. From his blog, Standing on my Head:

I should make it clear that I am in favor of the new liturgy and think it will be an improvement. However, I have been looking through the prayers in the new translation of the liturgy and I have to say I am  disappointed. I understand how the translators were attempting to be more faithful to the original Latin and for that I am grateful. However, some of the stuff is impossible clunky, verbose and difficult to pronounce smoothly. I think I’m a fairly articulate person, but I am finding the long sentences and awkward syntax and subordinate phrases to be quite a mouthful. What will all our priests do who are soldiering on with English as their second language? If I’m finding it hard to wrap my jaw around this stuff what about the Polish priests, the Nigerians, the Indians and the Vietnamese?

Here is what I am longing to know: Who can answer this question? In all the translations and the revisions and the arguments and the revisions of the revisions and among the liturgical experts and the linguistic experts and the theological experts and the Scriptural experts did anyone at any time stop and take the time to run these translations past a board of poets and literary scholars and perhaps a group of classically trained actors?

Did the ‘experts’ ever take the time or the initiative to stop and consult with people who are professional wordsmiths? Did they consult poets and writers about style and rhythm and beauty in language? Did they consult actors and speech teachers to see if the words were smooth flowing and easy to say, or were they so obsessed with their need for ‘literal translation’ and so ideologically opposed to the theory of ‘dynamic equivalency’ that they ended up giving us, instead of banal liturgy, a clunky and inaccessible liturgy? Were they so impressed with their own scholarship and expertise, and their so impassioned with their fervor to ‘reform the reform’ that they completely overlooked another vital part of the process?

Furthermore, has anyone thought of the knock on effect of the new liturgy within the existing worship patterns of the majority of English speaking parishes? For forty years English speaking Catholics have worshiped with banal contemporary music, flat and ugly buildings, sentimental theology, and entertainment mentality to the liturgy and crass liturgical vestments and liturgical styles. Now we’re going to introduce into that existing context the lofty language of the new translation. What will the effect be? It will be comical in many places–imagine a game show host required to speak in Elizabethan English. We are told that we must start chanting the new liturgy and teach Gregorian chant. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for it. But do we really think that generations who have sucked up the music of Marty Haagan Daz will suddenly convert to Gregorian chant? It will be like expecting a Church of God congregation to learn Russian Orthodox hymns.

Has any of this been thought through?

I’m just asking…but horror of horrors! Fr Longenecker is criticizing the new translation! I doubt if I will get a reasoned response to reasonable questions. Instead I will get ideologues who think the new translation will magically bring reverent liturgy into the church throwing bricks my way.

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76 comments

  1. Sorry, but this man is part of the problem. Learn to spell peoples’ names. And if you’re going to parrot someone else’s mindless criticism, the least you could do is pick the *least* expensive ice cream in the freezer.

    To his credit, it’s nice to see he’s absorbed the progressive cry for competence. He’d better watch it though: another critique like this and the reform2’ers might repo his STBDTR pin.

    1. Learn to spell peoples’ names.

      Umm… he knows how to spell them, he chooses to pun on them.

      To his credit, it’s nice to see he’s absorbed the progressive cry for competence.

      Huh? There’s nothing “progressive” about it.

      He’d better watch it though: another critique like this and the reform2′ers might repo his STBDTR pin.

      I’m not sure what “STBDTR” means. Folks already knew that Fr. Longenecker is firmly in the Reform of the Reform camp and is not a traditionalist. A few years ago, he had an article in the National Catholic Register that stirred up controversy and ended up with him clarifying his views.

      UPDATE: I see that “STBDTR” means “Say the black. Do the red.”

      1. The problem is with raising the peripherals of liturgy to an idolatry of sorts. If only we had (fill in the blank: good music, better words, nice silks, stunning architecture) everything would be so much better. Better to rely on the grace of God.

        Instead of challenging pastors, musicians, and liturgists to competence or even excellence, we’re going to have a pseudo-solution imposed on us. And then it’s going to be fine? Right.

        Getting the spelling right is essential to making this old yuk-yuk work. Tripping on a banana peel is a cliche. Performing it as part of a daily vaudeville routine is tiring. What Fr Longenecker has done is trip on the backstage stairs trying to perform a derivative act. Häagen-Dazs (note the spelling) is actually a superior brand of ice cream. So what’s the deal with the supposed pun? Ha ha, your name sounds like a gourmet treat? Real funny, that. For the 10,000th time.

      2. Where does Fr. Dwight align himself with the problem?

        It’s clear he doesn’t think a new translation is a magical remedy to our liturgical woes. Nor does he think (as far as I can tell) that just changing THINGS about the liturgy will do the trick… but I suppose he should answer for himself.

        I think that more beauty (in music, words, vestments, architecture) is an important factor, and that pastors, musicians, liturgists, and the average person in the pew who are challenged to excellence will naturally gravitate towards beauty in the liturgy, because they will be challenged to an interior “beauty” of soul, and they will desire that interior beauty to be manifested exteriorly.

        But that’s my view, not Fr. Dwight’s.

      3. “Where does Fr. Dwight align himself with the problem?”

        The petty attempts at humor, the hermeneutic of subtraction (if only we could get rid of …) and the misguided reform2 movement.

      4. Again, I can’t speak for Fr. Dwight, but I don’t think his only hermeneutic is one of subtraction. Can we all agree that there are negative elements in the typical parish liturgical celebration? And that there are positive elements that should take their place?

      5. Well, if you mean by replacing poor stuff with good stuff, I can get on board. Better homilies, a better translation, better music, art, and architecture? Why not? But that was all rolling along well by the 1980’s. We didn’t need and don’t need Johnny-Come-Lately’s to tell us six candlesticks, fiddlebacks, and treacly devotional hymnody is somehow magically superior. And the suggestion that unreformed aspects of Catholic worship will somehow improve the lot of people in the pew is indeed a “sort-of idolatry.” It replaces trust in God and the search for competence and artistry as the focus of just plain liturgical reform.

        As Kevin mentioned below, the brainless criticism of the post-conciliar liturgy is part of the problem. Fr Longenecker shares this with many of the tinkerers involved with the CDWDS.

        Now, I’m sure he does many positive things in his parish. If so, he needs to be more convincing of what’s going right rather than mindlessly attacking the good work many others have done long before he even knew where to find the Tiber.

    2. I can never understand the need for personal abuse on sites that are supposed to reflect Christian content.

  2. I think the questions you raise are the heart of the whole “Let’s just wait” movement (of which I approve). In addition to all your valid points, there was not one translator on the team who spoke English as their first language! I am heartsick at this translation being foisted on us. I am trying desperately to find a way to live with it, but is that what liturgy should be about, just trying to live with it? Shouldn’t liturgy be about raising our minds and hearts to God in unity with our community? I find the arrogance of the Roman hierarchy to be disconcerting. This week, as we read the Story of the Man Born Blind, it will drive home the message that none are so blind as those that REFUSE to see.

    1. Louise Grant,

      Maybe you’re referring to another team, so I apologize in advance if I’m misreading you. But the translators and collaborators for the forthcoming translation all speak English as their first language, as far as I know: the whole ICEL staff, ICEL’s consultants, all the English-speaking bishops who were consulted, the (presumably) English-speakers with whom any individual bishop consulted, the entire Vox Clara committee, and so forth. In the Congregation for Divine Worship are several native English speakers, including the secretary Archbishop Di Noia from the US and undersecretary Fr. Anthony Ward from England. It is possible that others were involved at the CDW’s behest, but we don’t know who they were and whether they are native English speakers or not.

      awr

      1. There goes my theory of the translation being done by Spanish seminarians armed only with a Latin-English lexicon. Oh, well. 😉

  3. Fr Longenecker has absorbed a great deal of bad theology (CS Lewis), eristic journalism (Chesterton and Belloc) and traddie/RotR shibboleths. He parrots this stuff on his blog.

    It is therefore more than a bit encouraging to see him at least questioning the convoluted language of the 2010 translation. It demonstrates intellectual integrity and courage on his part. I doubt the tradbloggers will thank him for it, though.

    1. I doubt the tradbloggers will thank him for it, though.

      What are you talking about? “Tradbloggers” for the most part aren’t worked up about the new translation since they prefer the EF anyways.

      Among those who are focused on the new translation, they generally accept that it’s flawed, but see it as better than what we’ve got. This is not a confusing position.

    2. It will be interesting to see if the tradbloggers, once they don’t have the “lame duck” translation to kick around anymore, are going to have the integrity and intellectual honesty to subject the Vox Clara Missal to the same scrutiny and critique. I saw on one of those blogs that one poster was all upset because Xavier Rhindsflish at what they called “Fr Ruff’s anti- new translation Pray Tell blog” had pointed out that their much ballyhooed new translation had left a whole Latin phrase about the Archangel Gabriel out of their rewrite of the perfectly fine 2008 translation of the Annunciation Preface. “What do we say to that, Father, Everyone, help!” As if you could give any honest response other than saying Hey Pray Tell is right on this! But the priest in charge of the blog said about Pray Tell in BOLD RED “Don’t drag it back here!” No criticism of 2010 though!

  4. “For forty years English speaking Catholics have worshiped with banal contemporary music, flat and ugly buildings, sentimental theology, and entertainment mentality to the liturgy and crass liturgical vestments and liturgical styles.”

    Tired. Boring. Next. Maybe if the author hasn’t cared for our last forty years he should have stayed on his side of the Tiber?

    1. He also seems to assume that all English speaking Catholics share his assessment of the music, buildings, theology, mentality, vestments, and styles. A good poll would probably find a mix of opinions at best, and maybe something else entirely.

      Yes, next. Please.

    2. Maybe Fr. Dwight crossed the Tiber because he believes it to be more than a matter of taste in music and architecture.

      I’d also think it more appropriate to address these sorts of responses to the author himself, on his blog (linked in the post), rather than in a comment-box which he may never read. This would allow the author to make a response.

      1. I would think that any commentary in the blogosphere is public domain. Re-posting, re-tweeting, re-blogging, tumbling, as well as secondary and tertiary commentary and beyond is simply the nature of the beast. In posting in the public domain the author doesn’t place a ethical burden on a reader or respondent to only interact with the source site. If I have a conversation with X that is “open” and repeat it to Y and Z I am free to do so without the presence of X. That’s the nature of communication in a public sphere.

      2. J., my point is that I find it cheap to make questions (at least, you used a question mark…) like “Maybe if the author hasn’t cared for our last forty years he should have stayed on his side of the Tiber?” about the author rather than to the author, when the author is so readily available to answer the question. To me, it seems like an attack on the person veiled as a question, rather than a sincere question seeking a response from the person.

    3. Why, the Roman Church already includes many thinking practicing Catholics who lament the pastoral mistakes of the past forty years, especially in the liturgical arena. He is just another one.

  5. Just a few thoughts:
    I really wish people would stop saying “new liturgy” when what they mean is “New Translation”. I have been giving workshops reassuring people that the mass will NOT be changing, just the translation of the text will be affected. It is confusing when others, especially priests, say we will have a New Liturgy this Advent.

    Again we get another shot taken at contemporary music. I really hate it when all new music is lumped together and dismissed as banal just because it is new. All church music was new at some point. All eras have had great music and poor music. Just look through the venerable St. Gregory Hymnal (1920) and you will find such gems as “Long Live The Pope!” along side Gounod, Schubert, Mozart, and Palestrina. Each piece of contemporary music should be evaluated on it’s own merits. It’s just lazy to trash it all because you don’t like some of it.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I’n now going to get back to composing some more contemporary music.

    1. Kevin,

      Be careful. That contemporary stuff is all banal, you know. Sure you don’t want to write some old stuff? How’s your time machine working this afternoon?

      I am reminded of Sturgeon’s Rule: “80% of everything is crap.” In the present situation, it’s not that all the old stuff is good. It’s just that 80% of the old stuff is now out of use/very hard to find, because it’s been recognized as crap, so most of what we still have is relatively good.

      “Long live the Pope” Sheesh!

      1. Yep, Sturgeon’s Law applies to music and architecture as much as anything else.

        However, the filter of time can be erratic–the music of J.S. Bach was regarded as fusty and old-fashioned for many years after his death, and languished in obscurity (as astonishing as that may seem today!)

        Not that I’m predicting the revival of “Long Live the Pope” or “Good Night Sweet Jesus”….

      2. I’ve never considered sturgeon’s law to apply to architecture – the survival of a building depends a lot on economic factors, changing demographics, and the tastes of the generation immediately after it was built. A good example would be Penn Station in New York – still lamented as a lost masterpiece of architecture, as well as the books upon books published about buildings lost to war, urban renewal, etc. I live in a city were virtually all the best examples of Victorian architecture are lost – many gobbled up by a hospital expansion in the 70’s. The modest, less interesting examples are the ones that have survived in remuddled form.

        Look at church architecture today – some of the best examples of 19th/20th American church architecture are being lost because the parishes have been closed.

      3. Lynn T—-I am reminded of Sturgeon’s Rule: “80% of everything is crap.” In the present situation, it’s not that all the old stuff is good. It’s just that 80% of the old stuff is now out of use/very hard to find, because it’s been recognized as crap, so most of what we still have is relatively good. —

        Lynn,
        If Sturgeon’s rule is pretty valid, do you think it would be a good idea to limit the ‘new hymns’ in a hymnal to -say- about 20%, (recognizing that even with that the publishers are still subjecting us to16 hymns out of every 20 new ones that ought soon to be forgotten)?

        man! my math is starting to give me a headache!

      4. George,

        It’s a nice idea, but the problem with such a limitation is that it sometimes takes a while to reach a consensus about what makes the 20% and what doesn’t. Some stuff is good for its time, but only that. When the time is done we put it aside for the next round. Publishers are constrained to a somewhat different time scale.

        And, we should acknowledge that they’ve already made a first cut at the 80% in selecting what they publish in the first place. Not to mention that some of the old stuff should probably be retired eventually. Very little will qualify as truly ‘timeless’. And, we don’t want to discourage today’s composers by making it too horribly hard to get published. They do need to eat, you know.

    2. Thank you, Kevin! I am glad I am not the only one who takes issue with these thinly veiled slams at ALL music written past the second Vatican Council!

      1. Thank you, Linda!
        My lonely crusade in St. Blogs for quite a number of years is to “call out” the bashers who, for whatever reason, believe it appropriate to create a bin and label it “sacropop” based solely upon someone’s name, the year/era of composition, their indigination over having to endure poor performance practice….you name their frustration, they’ll stereotype the horizon. This sort of lazy, convenient intellectual dismissal (ooh, PrayTell Pun alert!) is not about musical aesthetics, it becomes a philosophical encampment of “Hatfield v. McCoys.” As Karl sez, “Us. Them.” And sometimes, opponents on both sides dourly or gleefully slather lipgloss on their own prize animal, citing magisterial license, popularity, advert maxims like “only this diet WORKS!” etc., to bolster what is really a lack of interest in critical thinking. And critical thinking requires discipline. Last I checked, discipline is a postive value in the gospels.
        For myself, I could chant and sing tenor parts in classic polyphony for the rest of my days quite happily. And I’m working very diligently to enfold chant into its rightful place at Sunday Mass at our parish with good success. But I don’t wield “chant” as a weapon to bash musicians I supervise and congregations I assist.
        So, in a word, I choose the best tool in the box for the specific task at hand. And it’s incidental whether the handle on the tool is labeled “Hassler” or “Hurd.”
        A friend once described this as an “avis rara” modality. And it is my experience that folks either want to shoot that bird or put it in a zoo. I prefer to let it simply fly.

    3. Again we get another shot taken at contemporary music. I really hate it when all new music is lumped together and dismissed as banal just because it is new.

      “Contemporary music” in the article is clearly a reference to a genre and not a chronological reference. Protestations that “good music has been written since Vatican II” entirely miss the point.

      “Contemporary” in Church music doesn’t mean the same thing as “adult contemporary” in radio formats, but it works the same way. It picks out a certain repetoire of music that is of a similar style. They don’t play The Strokes on Adult Contemporary radio not because it’s too old, but because even though it’s chronologically “contemporary” it’s a different style.

      1. It wasn’t clear to me, and in fact, the composer example given (Haugen/Haas) would not even be considered “Contemporary” in comparison to John Angotti, Steve Agrisono, Matt Maher and the like. That was my point. The term “Contemporary” is to vague to be meaningful.

  6. With reference to the venerable St. Gregory Hymnal, I’ve found the title of the hymn for St. Cecilia’s Day found there to be a rather excellent example of how perfectly fine English usage from one era can become problematic in a later era due to changes in reference: “Let the deep organ swell the lay.”

  7. Oh, Mike, you naughty 1951 boy, you….I’ve been trooping that old chestnut joke out among litmusic cogniscenti’s for decades now. And you swoop in and steal my thunder under Montani’s u-romatico gaze!
    And it keeps getting worse for us in the fields….
    I’ve been rehearsing a combined chorus of two churches/community chorus for Mozart REQUIEM in May, in addition to my own parochial kids “Stabat Mater” for Lenten stations. Mind you, I tippy toe very delicately around the exact pronunciation of ‘fac me.” “Very light fricative ‘k’ folks, very light.” Some of them even think fricative’s a dubious term. And Lord help me on Friday’s stations if I hear a giggle anywhere during the millisecond it takes to chant “poenis.” Argghh.

    1. Sister Paschal Baylon couldn’t figure out why the 8th grade boys were chuckling over the way Monsignor O’Brien announced the title of the Fourteenth Station. But Father Hogan changed the verb the next week to “is placed”!

  8. Okay, you two – now you have me going…..in college seminary, Daughter of Charity wrote a hymn for the feasts of Vincent dePaul and Louise deMarillac. This line, unfortunately, caused the college aged students to laugh so hard the hymn stopped:

    Quote: “Louise said yes; Monseuir said, No!”

  9. In reference to music, musicians, composers, etc. We talk about how 80% is no good, or whatever % you want to use these days… But I am also reminded of the phrase “someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure…” The very simplicity of a Carey Landry tune rings true for a very many good people – just as a more intriguingly and complex Beethoven or Bach might ring true for others… and when we speak of “someone’s contemporary”… I had a 17 year old ask me the other day why we sing that “traditional” stuff.. yep “On Eagle’s Wings”… I think, in this new translation of the Mass, we will find gems and we will suffer with junk… 80%? who knows!

  10. Looking at sample Missal pages from the National Shrine (DC) version, I came across this Prayer Over the Offerings for the Shrine’s titular Solemnity:

    Graciously accept the saving sacrifice
    which we offer you, O Lord,
    on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
    of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
    and grant that, as we profess her,
    on account of your prevenient grace,
    to be untouched by any stain of sin,
    so, through her intercession,
    we may be delivered from all our faults.
    Through Christ our Lord.

    Why doesn’t that sound right, I wondered. Of course: Vox Clara has misplaced the clause “on account of your prevenient grace”! We don’t profess Mary on account of prevenient grace; we profess Mary to be untouched by any stain of sin on account of your prevenient grace!

    So I couldn’t resist checking the pre-Vox Clara 2008 version. Sure enough, they got it right, and more besides:

    Graciously accept the saving sacrifice
    we offer you, O Lord,
    on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
    of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
    and grant that, as we profess her to be untouched by any stain
    through your provident grace,
    so by her intercession we may be delivered from every fault.
    Through Christ our Lord.

    1) though it is in the Latin (quam), there is no need in English for “which” in the second line of the Vox Clara version; one less word in an already wordy prayer;
    2) 2008 petition reads smoothly because the translators observe English grammar
    3) “of sin”, added by Vox Clara (two more words) is not in Latin
    4) “through provident (prevenient) grace” in 2008 uses one word rather than 2010’s three, “on account of”, which is good, since the Latin ablative absolute needs NO introductory word!

    In almost every text you look at, 2008 reads smoothly; 2010 clunks along.
    Book looks nice though:
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/romanmissal/RM-Samples-pages_3-28-11.pdf

    1. original Latin:

      Salutárem hóstiam,
      quam in sollemnitáte immaculátae Conceptiónis beátae Vírginis Maríae
      tibi, Dómine, offérimus,
      súscipe dignánter,
      et praesta,
      ut, sicut illam tua grátia praeveniénte
      ab omni labe profitémur immúnem,
      ita, eius intercessióne, a culpis ómnibus liberémur.
      Per Christum.

    2. We don’t profess Mary on account of prevenient grace; we profess Mary to be untouched by any stain of sin on account of your prevenient grace!

      Umm… that’s what it says: “and grant that, as we profess her,
      on account of your prevenient grace, to be untouched by any stain of sin,”

      Consider:

      “Bill told me that Sue, on account of her guilty plea, was being sent to jail.”

      There’s some formal ambiguity perhaps, but in context, it’s not ambigious (that isn’t to say it’s neccesarily good).

      The 2008 is actually similarly ambigious:

      “on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and grant that, as we profess her to be untouched by any stain through your provident grace,
      so by her intercession we may be delivered from every fault.”

      “As” can mean “In conformity with, or in consideration of, the fact that; it being the case that; inasmuch as; since.”

      Therefore, the 2008 collect can be read as saying “Because of the fact of our profession of Mary as untouched by any stain through your provident grace, so by her intercession may we be delivered from every fault.”

      Ambiguity in language can never be totally eliminated. It’s a feature of how language works, not a bug (see Wittgenstein on language games, for example). Reading at an incredibly high level of scrutiny can “break” all sorts of langauge.

      1. Mr. Howard: yes, and what the Polish ACTUALLY says is: “Come by the house and whistle me out.” And again, “Throw me down the stairs my hat.”

        But tell me, if you were a Latin professor grading a translation for accuracy as regards the original language and comprehensibility as regards the receptor language, would you give the higher grade to ICEL 2008 or Vox Clara 2010?

        From the multiple samples set forth on this blog (by those of us who DO want a new translation), do you not judge the Vox Clara version to be riddled with fractured English usage?

        Or do you sincerely find its twisting of grammar and syntax (“constrain them mercifully” “Abide graciously”), together with its mistranslations (“overcome with paschal joys even the Powers of heaven rejoice) and violations of the principles of Liturgiam authenticam and the Ratio translationis (gratuitously adding “we prays” that aren’t there, whilst eliminating deprecatory phrases that are) all somehow endearing features of Vox Clara’s final product?

        I understand the loyalty thing amongst a certain segment: NOTHING must be said that is critical of something the Holy See has given its confirmatio to. But can we not be at once respectful of the Holy See and, at the same time, intellectually honest? Must everyone who has called or is calling attention to the manifest and multiple deficiencies of Vox Clara’s work be lumped in with the liberal recalcitrants as “whiners”? Will those who made a cottage industry of pointing out the “lame duck” translation’s flaws be as critical of Vox Clara’s Missal when it hits the altars?

        “Ambiguity of language” is one thing, Mr. Howard. But misuse of it, over and over and over again is quite another: from which, “deliver us mercifully,” as we will soon be saying.

      2. The role of the “hero” in a dysfunctional family is to make the family look good, right? The hero deflects, evades or denies criticisms that might not reflect well on the family…..

      3. The problem Xavier, is that you didn’t write “the style here is somwhat awkward,” rather you accused the translators of presenting something heretical or at least incorrect: “We don’t profess Mary on account of prevenient grace; we profess Mary to be untouched by any stain of sin on account of your prevenient grace!”

        But both translations suffer from a possible formal ambiguity on this point.

        I agree with you that changes from the 2008 to the 2011 are often unfortunate, but I think you damage your credibility in this discussion by overreaching as you have in this case.

        What I’m not persuaded of, and what others who you attack in your comment seem not to be persuaded of, is that with its flaws this new translation is worse than what we have now. For you to accuse people (and to accuse me I take it?) of “intellectual dishonesty” or for Karl to accuse us of “dysfunction” for disagreeing with you is not helpful.

        You, of course, are exempted from ad hominem attacks, since we don’t know who you are.

      4. To those who are always jumping up to defend the 2010, so like people have said on here, it’s kind of the “at least it’s better than” defense. The fans of 2008 are the “If only it could be really well done.” either way the old translation is gone. What’s wrong with pointing out how bad the new one is compared to what we almost got?

      5. What’s wrong with pointing out how bad the new one is compared to what we almost got?

        There’s nothing wrong with pointing out problems in the new translation. Which is why I’ve never said anything against that. The problems are pointing out problems that aren’t problems or alternately losing sight of the big picture that it’s still better than what we’ve got now and thereby preventing the implementation of what is, broadly, a better translation than the one currently in use even though still imperfect.

      6. Hey here’s an idea! What if the Congregation in Rome had the HUMILITY to fix the obvious “flaws” as you admit they are in the Vox Clara Missal and send the list of corrections to the publishers? It’s all by computer, it can be done. Because if Rome knows there are mistakes and even you fans of the Vox Clara Missal are only cheering it on cuz “at least it’s better” than what reason could Rome have for NOT changing it? I think it’s going to be funny in a few years to be talking about the ” lame duck Vox Clara Missal ” when as you know it’s going to happen someone comes out with a book pointing out all it’s mistakes in detail.

    3. Parenthesizing helps me see the structure. I don’t know if people usually do that, but that’s how I parse complicated text:

      Graciously accept the saving sacrifice
      (1 which we offer you, (2 O Lord, 2)
      (2 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
      of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 2) 1)
      and grant that, (1 as we profess her,
      (2 on account of your prevenient grace, 2)
      to be untouched by any stain of sin, 1)
      so, (1 through her intercession, 1)
      we may be delivered from all our faults.

      The top level, that is, the main message of the sentence, is:
      Graciously accept the saving sacrifice [hang…]
      and grant that [hang…]
      we may be delivered from all our faults.

      The next level is:
      Graciously accept the saving sacrifice
      which we offer you, [hang…]
      and grant that, as we profess her, [hang…]
      to be untouched by any stain of sin,
      so, through her intercession,
      we may be delivered from all our faults.

      For me one of the hardest things to understand while reading this text is that the “so” balances the “as”. As Samuel Howard pointed out, we do not know if “as” means “similarly to” or “because” until we get to the “so”, and we have to keep both meanings in mind until the ambiguity is resolved. It’s quite demanding for the listener! The 2008 version also has that awkward “as… so”, but it is less convoluted: there are not so many deep parentheses, so the listener doesn’t have to keep in his memory quite as big a stack of unfinished bits of phrases temporarily hanging!

      In the 2010 version one of them is particularly difficult to keep in memory: the “as we profess her”, that makes no sense at all until the “to be untouched by any stain” arrives. That, for me, is the main problem with the 2010 text as compared to the 2008 text.

      So I see two features that obscure that prayer by forcing to suspend a piece of text whose meaning is not clear: the “as… [wait… wait…] so” and the “as we profess her, [wait… wait…] to be…”

      1. Again, the “as… so” is (after cleaning up the sentence by removing the extraneous bits so as to highlight that particular structure):

        2010
        Grant that, as we profess her to be untouched by any stain of sin,
        so, we may be delivered from all our faults.

        2008
        Grant that, as we profess her to be untouched by any stain,
        so by her intercession we may be delivered from every fault.

        I’m sorry, but I don’t find either version to be good English. In fact, even after getting rid of the extra stuff, the meaning is still obscure. Isn’t the 2008 version missing a comma after the “so”? And are the two parts of the sentence supposed to be parallel to one another? But “we profess” is not to be put in parallel with “we may be delivered”. That’s pretty bad – in both versions!

        I can’t tell whether the translation is close to the literal Latin, and I don’t care, but I think I have some idea whether or not the result is good English, and I do care since that’s what we’ll soon use at Mass. Since I am a native French speaker, I apply the same analytical and aesthetic tools that help me understand and appreciate French texts. Is it possible, perhaps, that those do not apply to the English language? I must say that I had never noticed it before, and I frankly find it hard to believe.

        Whenever I start looking at one of those texts in detail, it upsets me.

      2. Oh. I see the problem:

        “sicut … profitémur,
        ita, … liberémur.”

        The ugliness and illogical parallels are already present in the original Latin! Are we condemned to forever repeat the infelicitous choices of the Latin text? That would be stupid.

      3. I think you’ve done an admirable job of parsing the prayer, and you’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t read especially well in any of 2008, 2011, or MR3 Latin versions.

        Praying shouldn’t be this difficult, though! This prayer is meant to be heard, which means it must be comprehended on first hearing. The level of complexity of its construction makes it unsuitable for oral proclamation and auditory reception. As you’ve pointed out, it’s a challenge even with help of pencil and paper to parse the thoughts. (What) was anyone thinking?

      4. Claire,

        thank you for your parsing, and for giving me a puzzle for the evening. I agree that neither translation captures the original, but your mention of parallels makes me wonder if it is meant to say:

        and grant,
        as we profess that your grace prevented sin from touching her,
        may she intercede, that we be delivered from our faults.

        IOW profession is parallel intercession, and the focus of the prayer is liberating us from our faults(actual) as she was preserved from hers(potential).

        I do not know that the Latin is any clearer than the English, since the parallels are not parallel but in chiastic chaos. So I am just guessing as to the meaning intended. And that just reflects my preference for dynamic equivalence over conservation of obscurity.
        And now I see that this is what the translators in 1998 chose, so I apologize for not reading Jeffrey’s post first.

    4. Here’s how it was rendered in 1998:

      In your goodness, Lord,
      receive the sacrifice of salvation
      which we offer on the feast of the immaculate conception.
      We profess in faith
      that your grace preserved the Virgin Mary
      from every stain of sin;
      through her intercession deliver us from all our faults.

      It has some issues of integrity (by which I mean completeness, as concerns the underlying Latin): “feast” instead of “solemnity”, “grace” on its own, no “blessed”, inclusion of the phrases “in faith” and “of sin”, and so on.

      It uses a semicolon between our profession of Mary as free from all stain and our request for her efficacious intercession, which implies a connection between the two, as would a word like “so”.

      I don’t mind the parallelism. “As we profess [X], so may we be delivered [from Y].” The link is in the fact that what we are professing is that Mary was (in a unique way) delivered from every fault, and that is what we desire for ourselves. The link is the juxtaposition of Mary’s immaculate state with our desire for such a state.

  11. Jeffrey Pinyan :

    I think that more beauty (in music, words, vestments, architecture) is an important factor, and that pastors, musicians, liturgists, and the average person in the pew who are challenged to excellence will naturally gravitate towards beauty in the liturgy, because they will be challenged to an interior “beauty” of soul, and they will desire that interior beauty to be manifested exteriorly.

    Jeffrey,
    I have a problem with arguments for beauty in liturgy.
    I think it is a distraction from actual liturgical principles and too easily leads to unresolvable arguments about taste.

    I am much more comfortable with seeking noble simplicity which would argue against both felt on burlap banners and cappae magnae.

    1. That’s not a problem with Jeffrey, that’s a problem with the Church’s theology of worship as expressed in Sacrosanctum Concilium:

      122. Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest activities of man’s genius, and this applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art. These arts, by their very nature, are oriented toward the infinite beauty of God which they attempt in some way to portray by the work of human hands; they achieve their purpose of redounding to God’s praise and glory in proportion as they are directed the more exclusively to the single aim of turning men’s minds devoutly toward God.

      Holy Mother Church has therefore always been the friend of the fine arts and has ever sought their noble help, with the special aim that all things set apart for use in divine worship should be truly worthy, becoming, and beautiful, signs and symbols of the supernatural world, and for this purpose she has trained artists. In fact, the Church has, with good reason, always reserved to herself the right to pass judgment upon the arts, deciding which of the works of artists are in accordance with faith, piety, and cherished traditional laws, and thereby fitted for sacred use.

      The Church has been particularly careful to see that sacred furnishings should worthily and beautifully serve the dignity of worship, and has admitted changes in materials, style, or ornamentation prompted by the progress of the technical arts with he passage of time.

      Wherefore it has pleased the Fathers to issue the following decrees on these matters.

  12. Kevin Keil :

    Again we get another shot taken at contemporary music. I really hate it when all new music is lumped together and dismissed as banal just because it is new. All church music was new at some point. All eras have had great music and poor music. Just look through the venerable St. Gregory Hymnal (1920) and you will find such gems as “Long Live The Pope!” …

    As high school freshmen, we sang “Long Live the Pope” with great gusto in 1961 because its melody was the theme for the TV show “Jet Jackson” or, was it “Captain Midnight” or, were they different syndications of the same movie serial? Anyway, can’t think of that song without wondering what the Dean of Discipline thought about the weird enthusiasm for that one song.

    Then there was the time he knew what to think and forbade us to up the tempo and rock to “Sing of Mary”.

  13. FRACTURED PHRASE OF THE DAY
    (pity there’s only 365 days in the year!)

    Preface VIII of Sundays in Ordinary Time

    Vox Clara Missal 2010

    For, when your children were scattered afar by sin,
    through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit,
    you gathered them again to yourself,
    that a people, formed as one by the unity of the Trinity,
    made the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit,
    might, to the praise of your manifold wisdom,
    be manifest as the Church.

    As we read this, does it not at least SOUND (perhaps if you’re reading the text it’s clearer) as if God’s children were scattered afar through the Blood of God’s Son and the Spirit’s power? Be honest. Of course it does. That’s because THAT CLAUSE should come AFTER the next line: “gathered to yourself”. Does not the tumbled accumulation of phrases that follows “lose” your ears as they tumble, i.e., “formed as one by the unity of the Trinity, made the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit?” Yes, because the last two phrases are images properly apposite “your Church.”

    Perhaps this would have been “heard” better:

    ICEL 2008

    For, when sin had scattered your children afar,
    you chose to gather them again to yourself
    through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit,
    so that a people made one from the unity of the Trinity
    might be revealed as your Church,
    the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Spirit,
    to the praise of your manifold wisdom.

    That is because the ICEL 2008 text, as directed by Liturgiam Authenticam and the Ratio Translationis stays close to the Latin, and its translators were more learned in the rules governing English grammar and syntax.

    See below:

    1. Quia filios, quos longe peccati crimen abstulerat,
      per sanguinem Filii tui Spiritusque virtute,
      in unum ad te denuo congregare voluisti:
      ut plebs, de unitate Trinitatis adunata,
      in tuae laudem sapientiae multiformis
      Christi corpus templumque Spiritus nosceretur Ecclesia.

      Observe:
      1. Although Vox Clara 2010 follows the clause order of the Latin (which places the clauses in the order Latin grammar demands), the meaning in English is clearer in the ICEL 2008, which follows the order that English grammar favors for clarity and comprehension.

      2. Vox Clara 2010, in violation of LA and RT, omits a word that is frequent in the Roman Collect and filled with meaning: voluisti. The Latin does not say simply (as 2010 does), “you gathered” but “you willed / you chose to gather”. How? And here is the signal as to where that second line of the Latin should go in English: “per” > “through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit.”

      3. By translating the Latin “de” precisely, “from the unity of the Trinity,” and joining this immediately as cause and effect, “might be revealed as your Church,” 2008 sets up the apposite images of the Church in a position that makes the text easy to “hear”: “your Church, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Spirit” Note: there is no “Holy” in either the Latin or the 2008 version (true to LA and RT), though Vox Clara adds it to the 2010 text.

      4. Vox Clara 2010, as is its wont apparently (cf. yesterday’s discussion on the fractured phrase regarding Mary’s Immaculate Conception), splits up things that should be left together “might be revealed (manifest)” with the long phrase, “to the praise of your manifold wisdom”, i.e., “might – (spoken a bit more quickly and softly so the hearer doesn’t get lost) to the praise of your manifold wisdom – (resume former volume and pace) be manifest as the Church.” 2008 flows so much more smoothly and coherently.

      1. Finally, as a bit of a bonus, look at the Preface Conclusion:

        Et ideo, choris angelicis sociati,
        te laudamus in gaudio confitentes:

        Vox Clara 2010:
        And so, in company with the choirs of Angels,
        we praise you, and with joy we proclaim:

        ICEL 2008
        And so, in company with the choirs of Angels,
        we praise you, proclaiming with joy:

        Vox Clara does what the critics of the old ICEL so often criticised: VC takes a subordinate clause and makes it a second principal element: “we praise you, and we proclaim”. ICEL 2008 flows so smoothly, in a rhythmically satisfying way, by patterning the Latin original, whose “confitentes” is in a subordinate position: “we praise you, proclaiming with joy”.

        Again, these observations are not made as a bid to advocate for NO NEW TRANSLATION (as some posters here, and certainly other blogs, seem to imagine). But simply to ask: What was the mission of Vox Clara? Could Cardinal Pell or any of the other bishops who routinely laud and magnify its expertise and accomplishment enlighten us? Was it to make sure the text translated the Latin accurately and in a literary way? If so, the evidence is mounting that the calligraphers can begin getting the big banner ready: “Mission NOT Accomplished.”

        And will the critics in the Catholic blogosphere be as straightforward in their critique of Vox Clara 2010 as they were of the lame-duck translations of the past? What will it be, gentlemen and ladies, “At least . . . ” or “If only . . . “?

      2. The new text will be a source of confusion and bewilderment. I am no fan of the 2008 text, but the 2010 text is a disgrace.

        This is one case where I have been looking at our church leaders for advice. From Pope Benedict: silence. From the bishop: my letter to him got a boilerplate reply written by one of his staff. From my pastor: I have not spoken to him directly, but heard that, after attending a meeting at the chancery about the new translation, he said he liked it because it was “more poetic”. I have no chance of getting their attention: that is one subject on which they know with certainty that they know better than me what’s right. I will not be heard. From my fellow parishioners: they get worked up on many issues, but are barely aware that a new Missal is coming, and, for the present, the idea is abstract and fails to stir them.

        I don’t know what to do.

      3. Claire,

        I haven’t received my boilerplate letter from the bishop yet (I just sent my letter Monday). I cc’d my pastor on the letter, but fully expect a “more elevated” or “more poetic” response. Like you, I am at a loss for what more to do.

        I do know one thing though, starting in November 2011, a large portion of my stewardship dollars will be going elsewhere.

        By the way, Pope Benedict has spoken on the subject. Here’s what he said:

        Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.

        Vatican Radio, Pope Benedict Addresses Vox Clara, April 28, 2010, available at:
        http://storico.radiovaticana.org/en1/storico/2010-04/375787_pope_benedict_addresses_vox_clara.html

      4. Arise, ye faithful from your slumber,
        Arise, ye pris’ners of assent.
        For reason in revolt now thunders,
        and at last ends the age of cant!
        Away with all your clunkiness,
        Obedient masses, arise, arise!
        We’ll change henceforth the awkward words,
        Fight the good fight to win the prize!

      5. But seriously, it seems that there is nothing to do but wait and see what will happen when it is launched. However one thing can be done while waiting: work on resolving divisions. The 2010 text unites almost everyone against it, but behind that unity of facade, there are strong disagreements between people like Xavier Rindfleisch who like the 2008 text and support LA without questions, and people who like the 1998 rejected text.

        Imagine that when the new missal arrives there is an outcry against it. Imagine bishops notice. They might ask: “What is the alternative?” — people need to prepare for that day.

        To begin with, I would be interested in a post by a proponent of the 2008 text, explaining why they honestly believe that the rules of LA/RT are appropriate for creating a good missal.

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