by Alan Griffiths
The aproved translation of the post Communion oration for Wednesday in the weekdays of Christmas time reads as follows:
May your people, O Lord,
whom you guide and sustain in many ways,
experience, both now and in the future,
the remedies which you bestow,
that, with the needed solace of things that pass away,
they may strive with ever deepened trust for things eternal.
Through Christ our Lord.
The plethora of subordinate clauses in this prayer almost overwhelms the sense and will make it difficult to read even with due preparation. Line 5 is simply impenetrable to this reader and will not stand without a little amplification.
For the sake of argument, I tried a revision. I tried to rearrange the first four lines in an attempt to make the thread clearer. I took a guess at what line 5 means and have tried to express it in something resembling speakable English.
My efforts, such as they are, yielded this:
who guide and sustain your people in many ways,
grant that both now and in the future
they may experience
the healing gifts which you bestow,
and as they find support for their needs
in the things of this passing world,
so they may strive with growing trust
for the things that are eternal.
Through Christ our Lord.
I am sure that this would not be the last word in a revision debate, however.
I’d be interested to learn what others might propose.
* * * * *
Once again, preparing the text below for speaking, the collect for Wednesdays of Christmas season, I was struck by how different the ‘approved’ version is from its Latin original. A literal version might read:
Grant to us, almighty God, that your salvation,
which for the redemption of the world came forth with new light of the heavens,
may always arise in our hearts for their renewal.
I saw that this oration has a strong biblical flavour relating to texts used at this time of the year. ‘Your salvation’ echoes psalms (98) and Deutero-Isaiah. This biblical flavour would be a gift to the homilist at a weekday Mass.
The approved version is as follows:
Grant us, almighty God, that the bringer of your salvation,
who for the world’s redemption came forth with newness of heavenly light,
may dawn afresh in our hearts and bring us constant renewal.
I found it difficult to see how this translation accords with the guidelines of Liturgiam Authenticam. It is a paraphrase of the Latin and dilutes the biblical flavour of the original.
‘Your salvation’ becomes ‘the bringer of your salvation.’ This (a) removes the biblical connotations of the image and (b) begs the question ‘why not come straight out and say “Christ”?’ The subtlety of the allusion is compromised.
As often in Roman orations, the long relative clause in line 2 makes it hard (for me at least) to reconnect with the main verb ‘dawn afresh’ difficult for the speaker.
‘Arise’ becomes ‘dawn afresh’ – is ‘afresh’ intended to render ‘semper?’ If so, then why do we have ‘constant’ later on in the line?
So I tried to do another version which might fit more closely with the original:
Grant us, almighty God,
that as your salvation came forth
with new and heavenly light for the world’s redemption,
so it may ever arise in our hearts to make them new.
In lines 2 and 4 I took the liberty of applying a Cranmerian device (cf. Collect in BCP for the Annunciation and cf. the Roman Collect for Advent Sunday 4) with ‘as’ and ‘so?’
Fr. Alan Griffiths is a priest of of Portsmouth Diocese, UK.