Nuptial Blessing: saying something nice about the new translation.

Rita’s featured post, along with Philip Sandstrom’s comment, sent me scurrying to see what the parts of the marriage rite contained in the new Missal translation looked like.

I am happy to report that the third nuptial blessing, which is the one I habitually use (in part because it prays for both the bride and the good together), has been given a beautiful translation that is, to my mind, a great improvement over the current translation. I’ll let you judge for yourselves:

Current

Holy Father, creator of the universe,
maker of man and woman in your own likeness,
source of blessing for married life,
we humbly pray to you for this woman
who today is united with her husband in this sacrament of marriage.

May your fullest blessing come upon her and her husband
so that they may together rejoice in your gift of married love
(and enrich your Church with their children).
Lord, may they both praise you when they are happy
and turn to you in their sorrows.
May they be glad that you help them in their work
and know that you are with them in their need.
May they pray to you in the community of the Church,
and be your witnesses in the world.
May they reach old age in the company of their friends,
and come at last to the kingdom of heaven.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Forthcoming

Holy Father, maker of the whole world,
who created man and woman in your own image
and willed that their union be crowned with your blessing,
we humbly beseech you for these your servants,
who are joined today in the Sacrament of Matrimony.
May your abundant blessing, Lord,
come down upon this bride, N.,
and upon N., her companion for life,
and may the power of your Holy Spirit
set their hearts aflame from on high,
so that, living out together the gift of Matrimony,
they may (adorn their family with children
and) enrich the Church.
In happiness may they praise you, O Lord,
in sorrow may they seek you out;
may they have the joy of your presence
to assist them in their toil,
and know that you are near
to comfort them in their need;
let them pray to you in the holy assembly
and bear witness to you in the world,
and after a happy old age,
together with the circle of friends that surrounds them,
may they come to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.

I only have the tertio editio of the Latin Missal, so I don’t know if the underlying Latin prayer has changed, but “may the power of your Holy Spirit set their hearts aflame from on high” not only captures the current Latin  better than “may your fullest blessing come upon her and her husband,” but is also a much more powerful and poetic image. Also, the way in which the clause concerning children is omitted in the current translation makes it seem as if having children is the only way in which their marriage will enrich the Church, while the new translation makes it clear that marriage enriches the Church in other ways. In general, the new translation shows a sensitivity to the rhythms of English that is unfortunately lacking in other parts of the Missal.

My only question is whether I can start using this translation come Advent 1 for Marriages celebrated outside of Mass, or whether I need to wait for the ritual book for marriage to be revised.

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30 comments

  1. I agree with what you say about the enrichment of the church, Fritz, but I am sorry, I find the language precious. “Adorn their family with children”? I am not too comfortable with that formulation. Children are members of a family, not adornments.

  2. In the latest edition of the Ritual of Marriage (at least in the French and German editions I can consult) all the Nuptial Blessings include a new and explicit ‘epiclesis of the Holy Spirit’ which you rightly picked out. And the Nuptial Blessing at Mass can be done immediately after the exchange of rings or still at the usual place after the Our Father. Outside of Mass the Nuptial Blessing is to be given immediately after the rings only — followed by the Prayer of the Faithful and the Our Father; and then the Final Blessing. [I imagine the arrangements are similar in the Spanish version available and used in the States.} The English version has not yet appeared — at least partly, it has been said, because of the ‘workload’ of all concerned with the New Roman Missal in English. Presumably, if the New Versions of the Nuptial Blessings appear in the New Roman Missal — deacons, priests, and Bishops can use them in the appropriate place in the ceremony even outside the Mass too.

    1. I suspected that there was a change in the underlying text, so it’s good to have that confirmed. I know our past translations have been sometimes too loose, but skipping over the Second Person of the Holy Trinity seemed a bit much.

      1. (I’m sure you meant “Third Person”…)

        Tangentially related to this, does anyone know if the EPs for Reconciliation were revised for the third edition of the Roman Missal? I ask because the translation of EPR I and II in the present missal read thus:

        “By the power of your Holy Spirit make them one body, healed of all division.” (EPR I, anamnesis)

        “We ask you to sanctify these gifts by the power of your Spirit, as we now fulfill your Son’s command.” (EPR II, epiclesis I)

        But the Latin texts of these include ex hoc uno pane et calice participes (EPR I) and ut fiant Corpus et Sanguis Filii tui (EPR II), and the new translation renders them. It seems unlikely to me that the old translation would simply have left out those phrases (especially since Enrico Mazza’s book on the Eucharistic Prayers excludes them from the “literal translation” it provides), but I’m also a bit surprised that EPR II would omit the explicit consecratory language in the first epiclesis.

  3. I agree, Rita, that children are not adornments. But I wonder if the use is in reference to one of the psalms for marriage, Psalm 128, that says “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table” (I’m quoting from my “old” lectionary here.) In any case, I had never liked that psalm for the reason that wives and children seemed like home decor.

    And regarding the use of the new translation before the update of the ritual text, the answer that Msgr. Hilgartner would give you (which he gave to the FDLC) is yes. If a text from one of the rites is also found in the revised translation of the Roman Missal, then use the updated translation even prior to the update of the rite itself.

    1. My husband and I have for years joked with each other, “My, the olive plants are noisy today!”

      It’s been a way to connect today’s good times to yesterday’s.

  4. There is a summary in the January 1991 issue of the US BCL Newsletter about the 2nd ed. of the Rite of Marriage (1990), in which it is noted that the nuptial blessings were revised to include a epiclesis. Also note the new rubric that the prayer for peace (“Lord Jesus Christ..”) is omitted.

    I can’t find any rubric in the Latin 2nd edition that permits moving the Nuptial Blessing earlier during Mass, so that may be specific to the French and German rituals.

  5. We refer to Jesus as the “Fruit” of Mary’s womb. Now we know that Jesus isn’t really fruit and that children aren’t really adornments but it really doesn’t diminish who they are by using these metaphors in a positive way. Of course these could be used negatively, but it all depends on context. And certainly in one’s private devotion one could say, “And blessed is the ‘Adornment’ of thy womb, Jesus.”

  6. Come, come unto me. I will make you a jewel.
    Precious and rare, the glory you’ll bear in the crown of God.”

    I guess you guys ‘n’ gals oughta have let Bob Hurd in on the memo that such archaic, monarchial imagery is so passe and counteproductive to the comprehension movement afoot. Then again, since this great song adorned, er, effected our sung worship for a couple of decades, or long enough for the crown jewels of our family’s life (three amazing daughters!) to know the song by heart, just maybe Dr. Bob was a pre-Cog with this song, prescient to the inevitable MR3 phenom. 😉

  7. Psalm 127/128 plays on the two fold meaning of house, consisting of both physical capital and human capital. The human capital (wealth) of a house consisted primarily of wife and children but also secondarily of servants and slaves who could be more easily acquired and alienated.

    The psalm is, of course, from the perspective of the male head of the house, the fruit of whose labor (initiative) is seen as both human capital (taking a wife and having children) as well as physical capital (in the form of a building and plants).

    The plants as living entities are seen as even more valuable than the building and the table since the vine (analogous to the wife) is already producing more fruit, and the new planted olive trees (children) will produce fruit in the future. The householder’s wife and children are not just any human capital like servants and slaves who merely provide work but the most valuable human capital, the producers of future children.

    The explicit background to the whole psalm is God’s promise of children and land to Abraham and his descendents, e.g. the conclusion. “may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel. (Psa 128:6 NIV).

    We should not be reading modern notions of individuality and personal ownership into the ancient world or this psalm. The household was extended family, job and safety net. Everyone including the head identified with it like we do with family.

    Certainly the author views the wife, the children, the plants and the land as coming more from the initiative and promise of God than the behavior of the head of the household; the faithfulness of the whole household to God’s promise is personified in the head of house as the decision maker. “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. (Psa 128:1 NIV)

    Everything of real value, especial life which is most valuable, comes from God. Ornament like the modern word capital (if we think money rather than human labor) can be misleading. Our trouble with the psalm may say more about us.

  8. Wow! That prayer is gorgeous. Aside from the awkward “adorn…children” phrase (“build up,” “strengthen” or “enrich” would be a worthy substitute for the verb), it’s almost impossible to believe it’s (supposedly) translated according to the norms which produced the new Order of Mass, collects, prefaces, etc. It is immediately intelligible and displays almost none of the Latinate clunkiness which mars–perhaps even cripples–the new translation of the Mass. I’d be interested to see how the same prayer had been rendered as part of the 1998 translation effort; the forthcoming version sounds as if it’s been taken almost straight from that rejected material.

    1. Here is the prayer from the 1998 Sacramentary (p. 1002):

      Father most holy,
      Creator of the world and all it contains,
      you made man and woman in your own image
      and on their companionship
      bestowed your generous blessings.
      Hear our prayers for your son and daughter
      who are joined today in the sacrament of marriage.
      Let the fullness of your blessings
      descend upon N., this bride,
      and upon N., this bridegroom.
      Let the power of your Holy Spirit
      kindle in their hearts the fire of your love,
      so that, expressing their delight in each other,
      they may adorn the human family with children
      and enrich the Church with new members.
      Let them praise you, Lord, in times of joy
      and turn to you in their sorrows;
      let them find your help in their strivings
      and know your comfort when hardship strikes.
      Let them offer you prayers in the holy assembly
      and stand as witnesses to you before the world.
      Let them live a long and happy life
      and welcome them at last to your heavenly kingdom
      together with their friends who surround them today.
      We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

      1. I got in first, Jeffrey! though our posts are timed at the same moment. And you left out the paragraph breaks…. 😉

      2. Yeah, but… but… but I didn’t italicize the text, and I bolded the word “adorn”! 😉

        (In my 1998 PDF, there were no paragraph breaks. At least, I copied and pasted it all at once, so if there were paragraph breaks, they didn’t copy along with the text.)

  9. FB, what about the first Nuptial Blessing? I confess I am very attached to the expression, “Father, by your plan man and woman are united, and married life has been established
    as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin
    or washed away in the flood.” I don’t know what the new translation reads, but this section is always so much more moving to me than any part of the others.

  10. 1998 version of the prayer, as requested by Luke Jensen:

    Father most holy,
    Creator of the world and all it contains,
    you made man and woman in your own image
    and on their companionship
    bestowed your generous blessings.
    Hear our prayers for your son and daughter
    who are joined today in the sacrament of marriage.

    Let the fullness of your blessings
    descend upon N., this bride,
    and upon N., this bridegroom.
    Let the power of your Holy Spirit
    kindle in their hearts the fire of your love,
    so that, expressing their delight in each other,
    they may adorn the human family with children
    and enrich the Church with new members.

    Let them praise you, Lord, in times of joy
    and turn to you in their sorrows;
    let them find your help in their strivings
    and know your comfort when hardship strikes.
    Let them offer you prayers in the holy assembly
    and stand as witnesses to you before the world.
    Let them live a long and happy life
    and welcome them at last to your heavenly kingdom
    together with their friends who surround them today.

    We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  11. The problem is the Latin text ut, dum mútuo connúbii dono fruúntur, (famíliam ornent fíliis), ditent(que) Ecclésiam.

    Orno according to my Latin Dictionary has the meanings of “bestowing honor and praise” as well as “to fit out with necessities”. I suspect both these meanings were intended to be captured by the original prayer.

    Since ditent means “enrich” the metaphor in each case is the capital metaphor of Psalm 127/128, the growth of wealth, first that of the human capital of children and then of spiritual capital in the Church.

    Since children are necessities for the human family though not the individual family, I think furnish would be the better idea than adorn. To really capture the growth of wealth in the future metaphor endow would be an even better word.

    fruúntur was probably meant to capture the notion of use and usufruct, i.e. both using wealth and accumulating it for the future.

    so that, while enjoying together the gift of married love,
    they may (endow the human family with children
    and) enrich the Church with spiritual fruit.

    is my suggestion.

      1. Yes, and I immediately found the better word “endow” which means not only “to provide something necessary” but also something that will be seen “as bestowing honor and praise,” the authentic meanings of ornent that are extremely poorly and inaccurately transliterated as “adorn” which has the connotation of something extrinsic even if valuable like gold.

        Children in most societies in history and even around the world today are seen as essential to survival, the more you have the wealthier and more likely to survive you are. They intrinsically bestow social status.” This was certainly true of the world of the psalms.

        Today, married people in wealthy societies do not regard children as necessary for survival. However we regard them as very valuable, indeed they are very expensive. But their expense is one reason why people have few or none.

        My translation while affirming the essential goodness of married love for the married people themselves affirms an overflowing wealth that benefits humanity with more members and the Church with spiritual goods (inclusing members).

        My interest is spirituality; we need to develop a positive spirituality of having children as a benefit to our fellow human beings (since they are no longer economically essential to our existence) as well as to the communion of saints.

        Anytime we translate (bible or missal) we have to understand the social culture of the original, how our society might be different, and translate in a way to foster a Christian spirituality for our particular culture. There is a lot of social and economical background to the biblical foundation behind this Missal phrase.

        Adorn and the language of ornamentation are the worst sort of enculturation; they reek of consumerism and home decoration. Nothing like that was likely in the minds of the authors of either the Missal (unless somebody recently in the Vatican did the Latin text) or the psalm.

  12. Local buzz in these parts has to do with the Gloria at wedding Masses. My Latin is nicht zu good, but I believe paragraph 51 of the Ordo celebrandi matrimonium states that Mass begins according to the formula of the Roman Missal. And sure enough, the Missal page 1177 (Lit Press edition….) prescribes that the Gloria is said.

    Thoughts anyone?

    1. It also prescribes that the Penitential Rite is omitted. The same is true (no Penitential Rite, yes to the Gloria) for Baptism within Mass (p. 1126) and the other Marriage formulae (pp. 1183, 1189) —

      but not for Confirmation (p. 1130), Ordination (pp.1138, 1146, 1152, 1157, 1161, 1168, 1172), Blessing of an Abbot/Abbess (pp. 1195, 1199), Consecration of Virgins (p. 1203), Religious Profession (pp. 1207, 1209, 1216), Dedication of a Church/Altar (p. 1221, 1228), all of which specify the inclusion of the Gloria but not the omission of the Penitential Rite.

      One wonders if this anomaly is a simple oversight, and whether the Penitential Rite should also be omitted on these festive occasions too.

      1. One wonders if this anomaly is a simple oversight, and whether the Penitential Rite should also be omitted on these festive occasions too.

        Don’t baptism and marriage both have special greeting rites? Do those other occasions?

    2. Michael, yes: you can find a link to the Latin original here: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/eym.htm#cm1. I can’t speculate on Paul’s post, but it seems that the common thread among those that retain the PR is that there might be a larger body of people present for those? Perhaps I’m reaching…

      If I recall correctly, there is also this direction in the 1962 MR, but it was revised in the 1970 MR back to “yes” on PR, “no” to the Gloria.

  13. The arguments we’ve been having down here have to do with the Kyrie. The GIRM seems to separate the Penitential Act and the Kyrie (cf. nos. 46, 51, 52; excepting, of course, for the third form). So, if the Penitential Act is omitted, is the Kyrie sung? Or, should the schola proceed immediately to the Gloria?

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