Why you won’t find a new Missal edition from Kevin Mayhew Publishers

Kevin Mayhew, chairman of Kevin Mayhew Publishers in England, has an interesting letter to the editor in the January 18 edition of The Tablet. He writes:

Early on, I made a judgment that it [the Missal text] was so poor it would not last and that I would not publish any part of it, although, like all publishers, we were asked to bid for the publishing rights.

And he adds this:

It is urgent to get rid of the new text both because of its ugliness and non-acceptance and for the damage it has done to relationships with other Churches that were not even advised of the changes in advance.

Kevin Mayhew’s integrity, especially if it cost him in the pocketbook, is noteworthy.

awr

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55 comments

  1. It’s good to see that Kevin Mayhew has taken a principled stand on this matter. However, just as serious as the poor manner in which other churches have been treated is the way in which faithful Roman Catholics have effectively been silenced in God’s house.

  2. I like the new translation. The prayers are indeed much richer, and the supposed difficulties vastly exaggerated. The Benedictine who says Mass at our parish on the weekend often chants them, and he regularly uses the First Eucharistic Prayer, which I have seen some here claim is impossible to say. I hope the new translation is in use at least as long as the old one was.

  3. Here, here? Yeah, that sounds about like the translation. It may not get reworked officially, but priests are finding some work arounds. More and more, we pass on the Nicene Creed in favor of the Apostles Creed. Much less awkward but still ‘legal’.

    1. @Tom Piatak – comment #5:

      You know, speaking as one of those people in the pews, I suspect that most people would still have said that “overall, the new translation is a good thing,” if the ICEL version had been approved, and therefore, were now in use, instead of the Vox Clara one.

      That doesn’t mean further improvement cannot be made, or isn’t needed.

      @ Chris McDonnell — comment #7

      “their Bishops accepted without question the Vox Clara text in preference to the already agreed ICEL text”

      This will forever remain a mystery to me, and a sad one at that.

    2. @Tom Piatak – comment #5:
      Tom, we’ve been over this ground before. The question only asked people whether they think the new translation is a good thing. It didn’t track whether they think it is better than the previous translation, or whether they are praying better or getting spiritual benefit. Still 30% voted no. In most organizations, that is hardly a successful level of consensus. So the people in the pews have opinions more mixed than you indicate, and when you say they aren’t bothered, you’re ignoring nearly a third of them.
      awr

  4. The Vox Clara 2010 product is truly grotesque. It is a source of endless embarrassment to me as a presider.

    It is often easy to remedy some of the most hideous deformities. For instance, almost every occurrence of “we pray” and every occurrence of the word “O” can simply be omitted.

    For “oblation,” I just revert to “sacrifice,” and there are a few other easy fixes.

    It is also pretty easy to de-Yoda the texts by putting the words back in the right order.

    Often, though, the orations are so hard it’s impossible to repair them because it’s so difficult to figure out what they original meaning was intended to be.

    I find one of the most stupid features of the VC2010 is the pages with the orations don’t point to the matching preface by giving a page number or preface number. The sacramentary always gave a preface number for the matching preface.

    I’m guessing the reason the editors of the VC2010 did not continue the practice of pointing to the matching preface was the totally asinine explanation “It’s not in the Latin.”

    I’d love to know what kind of payoff the various members of VC received from the publishers for their betrayal of the Catholic faithful. What’s the difference between the members of VC and other purveyors of the world’s oldest profession? Beats me…

    1. @Jim Blue – comment #5:
      Fr. Blue mentioned:
      For “oblation,” I just revert to “sacrifice,” and there are a few other easy fixes.

      We were fortunate to have had a visiting Oblate priest say Mass. As he introduced himself at the sermon, he took about 15 seconds to explain the word “oblate/oblation”. The kids figured it was a pretty cool word, and we’ve never had any problems since. Our pastor took care of “consubstantial” and “Incarnate” and other meddlesome words and we’ve never had any problems since.

      Is it really so much more difficult to teach us than it is to mollycoddle us and perpetually lead us to distrust the leadership of our Church?

      1. @Sean Keeler – comment #19:
        Sean, I really don’t have a problem with using the right word at the proper time but this notion of using “heightened” language just for the sake of using it is repulsive to me. Not unlike throwback for throwback’s sake.

        There are some great 25 cent word that I love whenever they come up, for instance “refulgence.” Now that is just a darn cool word! It is clearly the right word in the proper place.

        Unlike today’s screamer: “…direct our actions according to your good pleasure.” The language of the royal court is not the language with which to address our loving God. It is entirely bogus.

      2. @Sean Keeler – comment #19:
        “and perpetually lead us to distrust the leadership of our Church?”

        This phrase suggests a number of lines of thought:

        1. The reversal of the roles of bishops and curia which took place during the process of production of the current (I’m reluctant to use the word ‘translation.’) transference of a text from one language to another is problematic.

        2. To ignore the flawed process which produced this version and the equally flawed version itself on the grounds that the leadership of our church authorised it, is to promote a misguided understanding of loyalty. In fact, it is a prophetic act, thoroughly in keeping with the biblical use of that term, to speak up and speak out at acts such as the production of this text.

        3. The reversal of the post-Vatican II impulse to decentralise which took place during the last decade of John Paul II, of which Vox clara is a prime example, reveals one of the flaws of the monarchical model of church leadership. When the leader is too old or too infirm to govern effectively, the power vacuum is quickly filled by the curia. What a pity JP II didn’t resign ten years before he died, or as soon as it became clear that he was unable to carry out his role. Full credit to his successor for doing just that.

      3. @Sean Keeler – comment #19:
        Is it really so much more difficult to teach us than it is to mollycoddle us and perpetually lead us to distrust the leadership of our Church?”

        Yes, it is.

        You pose the question in such a condescending way. Teach us what, exactly? That we should use language as cumbersome and obtuse as possible?

        I ask you: Is it really so much trouble for the vernacular to be something we actually speak? My parish responds dutifully because they are good soldiers, not because it’s a good translation.

      4. @Charles Day – comment #23:

        You pose the question in such a condescending way. Teach us what, exactly? That we should use language as cumbersome and obtuse as possible?

        Amusing. It’s the priest dumbing down the words, toughies like “oblation”, and I’m the one who’s condescending.

        My response was directly pointed at Fr. Blue’s comment that he changes words rather than helps learn new things. My reword is:

        “Teach us what it means! Your congregation isn’t stupid, and we can learn new things, but we don’t have dictionary.com in the missalette. So make sure we don’t offer obliteration by mistake and blame you!””

      5. @Sean Keeler – comment #29:
        I get it now. The old translation was too easily understood, and the new translation is better because now the priest can take time to explain to us what is being said.

        I know that is not exactly what you said, but you have to admit that is what it ends up as even if that wasn’t the intent. Sometimes it’s better to stop digging.

  5. Why are prophets not heard in their own land? In this instance because their Bishops accepted without question the Vox Clara text in preference to the already agreed ICEL text. We are now experiencing the consequences, one of them being the Sunday Silence.

  6. Mr Mayhew seems to have changed his tune since 2010:

    A deal to award a prestigious contract to print the new Missal to the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) has been criticised by other Catholic publishers…

    Kevin Mayhew explained that after being asked to make a bid he heard nothing, adding: “I specifically asked if we could tender. It is the sort of thing we could do standing on our heads given the range of hymn books that we produce. They were going to get in touch and give us details. I am amazed that a publisher has been appointed.”

    Had he been offered the contract to publish the Missal back in Nov 2009, I don’t think he’d be too bothered about the text being “poor”. So I’d be wary of descibing his current stance as one of integrity.

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #8:
      A poor translation? Yes indeed. As anyone who has taught languages will verify. To impose the syntax of the language of source on to the language of destination when translating is an elementary and puerile error. In fact it hardly qualifies as a translation at all. It’s more of a transference of the word order and vocabulary of one language on to another with disastrous results on so many levels, semantic, literary, liturgical etc.

      And poorly produced, when the roles of bishops conferences and secretarial and administrative assistants were reversed.

      And poorly received, as the almost complete silence during the People’s parts testifies.

      Compared with these considerations, Kevin Mayhew’s position is incidental.

    2. @Matthew Hazell – comment #7:
      Matthew, I don’t follow all the assumptions and leaps you’re making. How do you know what he thought about the text being poor in 2009, since he didn’t speak to it? Even so, it’s very possible that he came to see the problems as time went on. I know someone involved in the process who later came to see the problems and withdrew his support! 🙂
      awr

  7. Fr Allen , the repeat of my posting was not my choice. By some quirk of the system it happened. I note that the second copy has now been removed. It would now appear that yours has also disappeared! If only we could correct our current translation as easily. The consequences of the decision by Vox Clara to impose their translation on the English speaking world will live with us for many a year, and it could all have been avoided.
    Glorious translation? I don’t think so, and nor do many others. The division and acrimony has resulted from a centralised mind set that swept aside ICEL and imposed this literal translation on us. Is it any wonder that individual priests have taken it on themselves to make revisions on a cut and paste basis as a way round the problems?

    1. @Chris McDonnell – comment #8:
      Chris I wasn’t referring to your double post which I did not see, the duplicate of which along with my post were deleted. In terms of my absent glorious translation statement, I make no claims for anyone but myself and those I know who agree with me and the process by which it came about but also recognizing there are plenty who disagree although I think scientific polls have shown those with the more positive attitudes about translation and method are higher in percentage than those who don’t like either.

  8. Sorry Allen if I misunderstood you. It would seem that your earlier posting got lost when mine was removed…
    We’ll have to agree to differ over the words “glorious translation”. I am just a little tired of “gracious” every five minutes.
    Our common concern must now be how to repair a damaging difference of opinion for the sake of the Eucharist that is at the centre of our shared faith.

  9. @Tom Piatak Comment #2

    I did share my experience with the Roman Canon in the new translation here. That it was prolix, pompous and precious, which make for good libretto but not for good prose.

    The good prose I envisage must be appropriate for people whose second, third, fourth or fifth language is English (it is my second).

    One can still do gracious and dignified translation with those contexts of reception.

    An aside, I am still somewhat puzzled about the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Occasions. They reflect the same style as the others. Yet they were formulated in a modern language. This means they had to be translated from a translation. Why were they not translated with the directives of LA from the originals?

  10. I personally would not put too much weight on Kevin Mayhew’s views. He’s entitled to his opinion, of course, but I think it’s fair to say that he has consistently supported the idea that liturgical language and liturgical music should be adapted as fully as possible to the prevailing culture, downplaying the extent to which the liturgy (including its music) forms part of the deposit of the faith. The essential question, as all the above comments demonstrate is ‘How far do we trust the traditions of the Roman Rite?’ Your answer to this will determine how you view the present translation.

  11. Since the implementation of RM3, our pastor has struggled mightily, trying to make sense of the weekly orations in particular and the awkwardness of the language in general.
    Last weekend we had a visiting priest while our pastor was on vacation. He, like Jim Blue, has made accommodations to the language in order to make it understandable. I confess that it was a relief to be able to follow the orations and the Eucharistic Prayer with ease; to be able to pray without mentally diagramming sentences.
    I stand with Mr. Mayhew……and many others here and elsewhere!

  12. The people in the parish I serve respond enthusiastically with the revised texts. They do so not because they prefer them over the former responses or because I told them they represented an improvement. They do so because they understand full, conscious, and active participation and because I told them that even though they were being imposed, we could make the adjustment and live with them. But regarding the texts of the orations and EP’s, I found myself simply unable to pray them without some editing that makes them more prayable and comprehensible. I had five years of Latin a fact which has helped me to be more articulate, but Latin syntax and English syntax are not easily reconciled. My parishioners don’t complain. They like being able to understand the prayers.

  13. Ian Coleman : … the extent to which the liturgy (including its music) forms part of the deposit of the faith. The essential question, as all the above comments demonstrate is ‘How far do we trust the traditions of the Roman Rite?’ Your answer to this will determine how you view the present translation.

    As written or spoken English — any known form of English, contemporary or less so, the new translation is a botch. This is true no matter how much or how little you believe that the liturgy forms part of the deposit of the faith. No matter how far you trust the traditions of the Roman Rite, the new translation is ugly and lumpen.

  14. Well, clearly, Jonathan Day, I (and many other respondents) do not find it so, and unless there is clear unanimity on the part of the faithful, there is no reason to discard what is clearly a better, more literal translation of the Latin. No, it is not perfect, but some of what has been termed its ‘lumpen’ quality comes from, and reminds us of, the fact that it is difficult to render certain key Latin phrases smoothly into English. In other words this reminds us (as do similar ‘lumpen’ moments in the Gospels) that we are dealing with a translation and not some smooth peroration in our native tongue.

    1. @Ian Coleman – comment #25:
      Ian, you are setting the bar too high. I didn’t ask for “smooth” English or for a perfect translation, just for English: English as it would be spoken and understood by some native speaker, somewhere, at some time. The new translation fails.

      Or take Martin Badenhorst’s test, which makes lots of sense to me: “appropriate for people whose second, third, fourth or fifth language is English.” Fail.

      I don’t buy the claim that ecclesiastical Latin is inherently difficult to translate, even in a literal manner. We have had many examples of that here on Pray Tell, in Fr Joncas’s analysis of Sacrosanctum Concilium. The 1998 translation hews closer to the Latin than the 1973, but it is recognisable as English.

      Note that this is not primarily a matter of vocabulary, or of “elegance of style” (the new translation, to be clear, has no elegance). On the one hand, I think it was a silly mistake to put in words like “consubstantial” and “oblation”. We don’t get to pause the Mass for a moment to explain these abstruse words. If “of one being” doesn’t work, then let’s find English words that do.

      On the other, if that’s all that ICEL/Vox Clara had done, I wouldn’t object nearly as strongly to the new translation.

      If a musician is playing grossly out of tune, it really doesn’t matter whether he is playing Bach or disco pop: the result is still a botch.

  15. “How far do we trust the traditions of the Roman Rite?”

    In the long run, a lot more.

    Do I trust the English-speaking bishops, Vox Clara, and ICEL? Not so much. It takes a lot more to attach a new translation onto a long tradition than a “Trust us” from bureaucrats and bishops these days.

    I would go so far as to say that the modern Roman Rite in Latin is too tame for the age, that much, much more is needed in plumbing the depths of Scripture in order to engage people in a more fruitful way. Perhaps the years 2010-2030-ish will be seen as a retrenchment for English-language Catholic liturgy in the way 1978-2013 will be viewed by future Catholics: a timid fallback to “The Way We Were.” Time to retire the Streisand song and move for the deeps.

    My own instinct has been to mostly avoid the new translation in my own composition. I don’t know that I’ll never attempt a Mass setting. But if I don’t set English MR3 to music, my creative output won’t have suffered at all.

  16. Gerard Flynn : @Ian Coleman – comment #25: ” reminds us of, the fact that it is difficult to render certain key Latin phrases smoothly into English.” For example?

    I note that occasionally they are even better in the rendering. For example:

    sum qui sum becomes I am Who am which sounds quite God-like. Whereas if you translate it literally, it becomes I am who I am which sounds much more like Popeye.

    1. @Sean Keeler – comment #28:

      “Sum qui sum.” is not a key Latin phrase. Neither is it difficult to translate.
      Incidentally, why is omitting the pronoun in the predicate a better way to translate the sentence than to include it, apart from the subjective judgement you proffer?

      Ian Coleman claimed that there are key Latin phrases which it is difficult to render smoothly in English and offered this as an excuse for the current translation.

      I asked for an example.

  17. I have, of course, made myself a hostage to fortune by using the expression ‘key phrases’, and no doubt one could argue that these examples are not key phrases. However:
    In the Creed, ‘consubstantialem Patri’ is not adequately rendered by ‘of one Being with the Father’. There is, of course, a huge theological question being played-out behind this, but that is precisely the point; we were shielded from the difficulty of the question by the previous translation.
    In the Embolism, ‘exspectantes beatam spem’ has always seemed to me crystal-clear in the Latin, but virtually impossible to capture in modern English. A similar problem besets translations of the Beatitudes, of course.
    In the Sanctus, ‘Dominus Deus Sabaoth’ is much better rendered by ‘Lord God of Hosts’ than ‘Lord God of power and might’ which seriously ducks the issue of the plurality of Sabaoth, possibly out of deference to Rabbinic Judaism. Again, the previous translation sought to explain away what is essentially a mysterious concept; who, or what are the Hosts? Personally I would have preferred using ‘Lord God of Sabaoth’, but then, Charles Day, Father would have had even more to explain on a Sunday morning!
    (and that’s quite without delving into the profound challenges of ‘Mysterium fidei’ and ‘Ite, missa est’. I think we need to admit the mysterious untidiness of the Roman Rite as well as its clarity…)

    1. 1. @Ian Coleman – comment #32:

      “I think we need to admit the mysterious untidiness of the Roman Rite as well as its clarity…”

      I like that.

      A question though: with the current version of the missal, which is (arguably) intended to retain some/much of its original “mysterious untidiness,” do you — as Fr. Anthony noted earlier @ comment #11 — feel that you are praying better or getting spiritual benefit that you did not get from the previous version?

      I do not dislike the current missal texts as strongly as some/many do, but I remain unconvinced that this new version offers such benefits — even with the addition of all those “cool words” (h/t to Sean Keeler @ comment #19).

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #33:

      “Everyone who wishes to gravely crtiticize the new translation should be able to articulate three or four basic and systemic translation flaws”

      I believe such articulation efforts have already been made, and there have been numerous threads about them right here at PrayTell.

      Or did you mean, in addition to what’s already been said?

      1. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #35:

        Elizabeth: Or did you mean, in addition to what’s already been said?

        What I hope is that any layperson who is concerned about the current translation can learn just enough Latin and textual criticism to discuss the flaws of the missal translation in a straightforward way to family, friends, acquaintances and the like. The goal is to impart information that people can then explain in their own words. This way, the laity become partners in the never-ending process of textual criticism.

        I am glad that many PTB participants have dissected parts of the new translation. I’ve learned quite a bit from these projects. However, these projects often (de?)evolve into discussions which require college-level Latin grammar knowledge. I am certain there is a way to distill information about liturgical text down to a level which is accessible to more people.

        When I was a Catholic fundamentalist (some at PTB might well contend that I am still a fundamentalist), I found that many traditionalists did not want to learn some Latin as if knowing some Latin would remove the false veneer of mystique Latin placed over the Tridentine liturgy. Most people who are modern Catholics are not averse to knowledge about belief, faith, and liturgy. The greater question is the construction of an effective vehicle for sharing this knowledge.

      2. 1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #36:

        “What I hope is that any layperson who is concerned about the current translation can learn just enough Latin and textual criticism to discuss the flaws of the missal translation in a straightforward way to family, friends, acquaintances and the like. The goal is to impart information that people can then explain in their own words. This way, the laity become partners in the never-ending process of textual criticism.”

        In an ideal world, yes.

        Also in an ideal world, “any layperson who is concerned about the current translation” would become fully aware of just how the current translation came to be — who the players were, which institutions were involved (or not), and what processes occurred, etc. etc. etc.

        In reality, on the ground, however, neither is possible (well, duh). In a way, it is a luxury to be able to engage in the pursuit of greater “knowledge about belief, faith and liturgy” in the way you have described (e.g., learn Latin to better understand the current missal).

        What I’m trying to get at, I guess, is when people say, “I just don’t like it” (your comment #33) and follow that up with “Because it sounds awkward, it sounds unnatural, it’s hard to follow, etc. etc. etc.,” their concerns are no less valid, even if they come without much knowledge of Latin syntax.

        2. @Ian Coleman — comment #37

        “I do feel I am praying with greater understanding in the new translation, but then I do know Latin…”

        Good for you!

        I’m quite envious of your prayer experience and your knowledge of Latin, but apparently, not enough to want to go back to studying Latin again (heh).

      3. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #39:

        Elizabeth: What I’m trying to get at, I guess, is when people say, “I just don’t like it” (your comment #33) and follow that up with “Because it sounds awkward, it sounds unnatural, it’s hard to follow, etc. etc. etc.,” their concerns are no less valid, even if they come without much knowledge of Latin syntax.

        Certainly. No person should ever be belittled or dismissed for her opinion.

        Still, parish adult catechesis outside of RCIA is possible. One church I attend hosts a full roster of weeknight classes taught by both clergy and laypeople. It’s possible to gather together at least a small number of the parish and hold a class on many topics including (but certainly not limited to) Latin and liturgy.

        As someone who is looking at progressive liturgical study and implementation from an outsider’s perspective (as someone who was evangelized through the EF), I’m surprised that there are not more parish and diocesan classes on the mal/formation of liturgical language and praxis. The liturgical reformation was supposed to uplift the laity from (so-called) legalistic and anachronistic Tridentine liturgy to liturgy which they could identify themselves with through a post/modern idiom. I would think that education would be central to the empowerment of the laity to discover their own image and place in the reformation. I have learned, sadly, that this has not really taken place since the reformation.

    2. @Ian Coleman – comment #32:

      Ian Coleman is quite wrong. “Of one being” was not a problem in the slightest, and we could easily have kept it. The difficulty was that all other English-speaking countries were using “One in being” which certainly is a theological problem. That is why Bishop Gordon Wheeler insisted back in the early 1970s that in England and Wales the ICET text be changed to “of one being”. It would have been very simple for the Vatican mandarins to have asked everyone else to follow England and Wales. Instead, they opted for the controversial “consubstantial”.

      Regarding Anthony Ruff # 12, responding to Matthew Hazell # 7, Matthew is in fact correct. The awarding of the publishing contract to the Catholic Truth Society was a stitch-up, and other publishers in England were rightly indignant. The CTS had no prior experience of a project the size of the Missal (and neither, in fact, did Kevin Mayhew, so to that extent it was sour grapes) — they are publishers of small pamphlets, not altar missals — and it is already clear that indeed they botched the job. In less than a year, bindings had already started to fail… It would be interesting to know if the same is true of the altar missals published in the US by Magnificat, also a small-pamphlet publisher.

  18. There is quite a fine line between condescension and education. This is a path I fear to tread should I ever teach, and perhaps the same sentiment is true for most educators today. I can see how an invitation to an evening adult education session hosted by the pastor, a visiting priest, or a catechist on the structure of the collects might intimidate some people. The reality that some will be intimidated should not stop the clergy and laity from offering and sharing their knowledge with their parishioners. All participants can detect hubris, and this hubris will result in empty chairs. It is possible to educate humbly — surely all of us have had a teacher or professor who respected every individual at his or her level of aptitude and interest?

    It is not enough for some of the clergy and some of the laity to merely complain about the new missal texts. Everyone who wishes to gravely crtiticize the new translation should be able to articulate three or four basic and systemic translation flaws (most irritating flaw to me? the capital letter O).

    What I’ve encountered here on PTB and elsewhere is a “I just don’t like it” attitude about the new translation. Granted, certain aspects of the new translation are exceedingly poor, but a rejection of the text along the lines of “I hate Marmite” will not prepare people for the possibility of a better translation in the future. Knowledge of the current errors will better prepare the faithful when, hopefully, the texts are edited or an entirely new translation is composed.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #33:
      “What I’ve encountered here on PTB and elsewhere is a ‘I just don’t like it’ attitude about the new translation.”

      I think it goes a lot deeper than that. I could give you several in-depth criticisms of particulars, the overall effort, and I wouldn’t spare the original MR3 either. I didn’t like 1970/75 in parts either. And I had good reasons for that, clearly.

      “In less than a year, bindings had already started to fail… It would be interesting to know if the same is true of the altar missals published in the US …”

      I don’t think my parish’s Missal is holding up all that well after 2 years. Any conspiracy theorists want to tackle an argument for planned obsolescence?

  19. Elizabeth, I do feel I am praying with greater understanding in the new translation, but then I do know Latin and regularly attend a N.O. Latin Mass. And, Jonathan, I think it’s unreasonable to expect the translation to be English as it is spoken; it wasn’t so with Cranmer’s English, nor with the Latin of the Roman Rite as far back as we can trace it (compared with contemporaneous spoken Latin) . I didn’t cite the Collects or other Presidential Prayers because they are not, perhaps, such central texts, but the Latin style in these is fearfully difficult to translate. Nevertheless, some are very probably by Augustine or Ambrose, and masterpieces of theological balance. So what are we saying? That this richness must be sacrificed in favour of vernacular conformism? Difficult questions, for sure…

  20. Jordan, there have been many discussions of the new translation here on PTB that have neither been emotional (“I don’t like it ‘cuz I just don’t”); nor have they required more than a tiny knowledge of Latin grammar — do you recall the “you who” discussion, some time ago?

    On the idea of “untidiness” in the Latin, and the related notion that the new translation conveys mystery by reflecting this “untidiness”: quite a few of the Latin prayers are in fact very “tidy” and structured. Many of the newly translated prayers were ruined because the translators attempted to ape the Latin structure and “tidiness”, or to create English that “tidily” mirrors the Latin grammar.

    Then again, “untidiness” can convey profundity … or it can simply convey untidiness, as in the following fragment of a poem:

    Intense! The life will die
    unsure restless
    over the horizon
    the next life waiting
    From which dreams
    the refugee
    go without luggage
    remembering old times.

    This is in fact a computer-generated poem, produced by the spin of a random number generator. Untidy, yes. Profound and mysterious? Not so much.

  21. I wonder how the “Francis Effect” would make itself felt on liturgical translations. I read somewhere once (possibly here) that Argentina has its own missal translation because the Argentine bishops, of whom I presume Bergoglio was one, and an influential one, judged that the other Spanish translations weren’t suitable. Could that we-need-what-works-for-our-people approach become a model for other nations?

    1. @Jim Pauwels – comment #44:

      The matter of different Spanish translations of the Misal Romano is much more complicated. The Spanish-speaking conferences of bishops established a joint commission (similar to ICEL) to prepare liturgical translations after VII. However, in its work on the first revised liturgical books (baptism of children, funerals, rites of ordination, marriage) the commission discovered that translations acceptable to all the conferences were deemed impossible because of the various Spanish-language dialects used throughout the world.

      And so the first edition of the Missale Romanum ended up with several Spanish translations: Spain, Mexico, CELAM, Colombia, Argentina (and perhaps even more?). A unified translation of the Order of Mass was later prepared by translators from Spain and CELAM, working at the Vatican and completed by August 1986. The Spanish-speaking conferences were all asked to approve this text (which they did) and substitute it for their particular earlier translations of the Ordinario de la Misa in the various editions, while retaining their earlier translations of everything else.

      I’m not sure whether that “texto unico” (unified text) of the Ordinario de la Misa has been retained in the new editions of the Misal Romano based on MR3. But having different editions of the Missal in Spanish goes all the way back to the early 1970’s.

  22. Alan Johnson :

    Jeffrey Pinyan (@JeffPinyan) : @Ian Coleman – comment #32: Lord God of Sabaoth And we still use the word “Hosanna” in the same liturgical text!

    ### And I bet a tiny proportion of any gathering know what it actually means.

    And the same with “alleluja” or “amen.” It would be an interesting exit poll to do outside the doors of any parish church on a Sunday morning: “Can you tell me what ‘alleluja,’ ‘amen,’ and ‘hosanna’ mean?”

  23. Well, this risks becoming a display of pedantry, but I don’t feel a dismissive tone is appropriate! “Of one being” is fine as a translation of “homoousion” in the Greek of the Creed, but a rendering of “consubstantialem” it ain’t! There was a theological school of thought fashionable a while back that denigrated the Latin in favour of “getting back to” the Greek, and no doubt this had its influence on the previous translation. Enough! I’ll shut up now…

    1. @Ian Coleman – comment #47:

      If ‘of one being’ is a more effective translation of ‘homoousion’ than it is of ‘consubstantialem’ that is a strong argument in favour of retaining it.

      By the same token and for a similar reason, ‘we believe’ is preferable to ‘I believe.’

  24. I think your on to something Fr. Ron.
    Why don’t we have an “American English” version. After all, my English friends don’t think we Americans speak “real” English and most Americans don’t like “real” English because it is quite fussy and is especially difficult to speak when chewing gum.
    So we can have an “American version” without fussy “English” words like consubstantial, oblation and the like. And the first hymn can be I’m a “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.
    Seriously, not much will happen until B16 leaves to receive his heavenly reward. When that happens I think Francis will be opening the flood gates and changes will happen, but until then he won’t do anything that is perceived as “aspersing” (fussy English word) or in American “smear” B16’s reputation.

  25. Jim Pauwels : I wonder how the “Francis Effect” would make itself felt on liturgical translations. I read somewhere once (possibly here) that Argentina has its own missal translation […] Could that we-need-what-works-for-our-people approach become a model for other nations?

    I do wonder if Francis knows of the disquiet surrounding the current translation. I don’t think I would be surprised if one day he was heard to say that he had found a beautiful translation gathering dust on a shelf in the Vatican somewhere (dated late 1990s) and wondered why no one was using it. A lot from that time seems to have been carefully removed from history (see here for a link to a translation time line as an example). Here in England and Wales we will have a new cardinal later this month. Back in summer 2011 I asked him about Plan B with regard to the then forthcoming translation. There was a considered pause before his reply. It might be time to pose the question once more.

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