New Grail psalm translation now approved

The following has been released today by Ronald Herzog, Bishop of Alexandria, LA, presumably copying and pasting from a communication from Msgr Anthony Sherman of the BCDW:

I am happy to inform you that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has granted the recognitio for the Revised Grail Psalter by the Monks of Conception Abbey for liturgical use in the Dioceses of the United States, which has been approved by the Latin Church members of the USCCB in November, 2008.

The recognitio, dated March 19, 2010, indicates that the Revised Grail Psalter is the translation of the Psalms to be implemented in all future editions of liturgical books in the Dioceses of the United States. While it will be some time before new editions of affected texts are published, especially the Lectionary for Mass, the Revised Grail Psalter is now considered approved for liturgical use within the liturgy. While the New American Bible translation of the Psalms as contained in the Lectionary remains the official translation of the responsorial Psalms to be included in hymnals, and seasonal and annual participation aids, composers of liturgical music can use the text of the Revised Grail Psalter especially in preparing arrangements of Psalms for the Lectionary for use at Mass.

49 comments

  1. This is exciting news. It will be interesting to finally see the complete text and compare it to the existing Grail Psalter.

  2. Nothing on the GIA website yet, but some of us have had the text for several months now. A lot is the same as existing Grail, but a proportion of changes, too, not all of which will be easy to work with.

    1. Yeah, I went to the GIA website as soon as I saw the news. My next question was to see if anyone knew where one could see a copy. I am glad to hear that much is the same, once you have prayed the Psalms for so long one way, it is hard to change. When they revise the LotH, it is my hope they retain the Revised Grail Psalter for the Psalms. Not sure what will happen with the Canticles though.

    2. I share Paul’s mixed assessment. The original Grail, as a product of its times, doesn’t stand up too well on grounds of textual criticism, and the succeeding versions didn’t improve this. (Nor was that their goal.) The new Grail will be strong on this count, and the reading will thus be much more similar to all the other good English translations (which draw on the same Hebrew sources). But on musical grounds I think the new Grail is not quite as strong as any of the existing Grail versions. Good textual criticism plus literalistic translation principles seems to have trumped rhythmic or musical concerns here and there.
      awr

      1. There eternal debate of literalism versus intelligibility, then throw in musical considerations. And then in the end we chart a middle course as a compromise and no one is happy.

        Paul and Father Ruff, that’s for sharing your insights into the new translation. It will be interesting to see how common place it will become. Canada has chosen the NRSV for its Lectionary including the Psalms.

  3. As I understand the way the current, rather Byzantine (perhaps I should say Old Roman, rather than refer to New Rome?), rules work, while this new translation will become exclusive for spoken use, it is additive. That is, for sung settings of the Psalms, one may use any translated approved for the purpose, which includes prior approvals to the extent they have not been rescinded. At least that’s what I’ve been led to understand as an arcane point.

    To see what I mean, read further here:

    http://musicasacra.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=2992&page=1#Item_49

    PS: Compositions using tinkered versions of the approved texts don’t get the benefit of being grandfathered.

  4. Dr. Paul Ford got an imprimatur for the NRSV translation for his “By Flowing Waters.” Does that mean that we’ll be able to use the ECUSA Anglican Chant Psalter, Plainsong Psalter, American Gradual, Anglican Use Gradual and (revised) Gradual Psalms?

    If so, that would be a BIG improvement. I can’t imagine being able to set the GRAIL texts to anything BUT Gelineau psalmody. I did it for one cycle; it got tedious VERY quickly.

    Musica Sacra was very excited about receiving the rights to put Dr. Palmer’s Plainchant Gradual online on their site … does that mean we can USE it, thees and thous and all??

    Cheers,

    Bud Clark
    San Diego CA USA

    1. I know that opinions among musicians vary widely on the issue of Psalm translations, and so I respect the perspective of Bud Clark. But I must say that we sing Grail and only Grail at every Office every day at St. John’s Abbey, as we have for some 40 years now, exclusively to psalm tones (eg Meinrad) and never to Gelineau. Only cantors sing Gelineau (sometimes) at Sunday Mass. The monastic community likes Grail very well, both spoken and sung to psalm tones, and I haven’t yet heard that the Grail is tedious. For what it’s worth.
      awr

    2. Well the relevant passage from GIRM 61 as adapted for the US is:

      In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung [NOTE: This only applies to SUNG, not spoken, texts] in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass:

      -either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting;

      -or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.

      This last clause would include prior/other Psalter translations approved by the USCCB. To my knowledge, the USCCB has never approved metrical paraphrases, though it would be lovely if it would one day commission a fine set, for preferential use as alius aptus cantus, but I am not holding my breath. Perhaps some people will craft one someday on a Creative Commons basis and propose it, instead of waiting for bishops and their minions to do it for us….

  5. I’m still a devotee of the 1979 BCP psalter approved in the Anglican Use’s Book of Divine Worship (and the Coverdale psalter therein, also approved, isn’t too shabby, either), but I’ll be very interested to see the Revised Grail soonest, as the abbey of which I’m a Benedictine oblate (Saint Meinrad Archabbey) uses the 1963 Grail and might be expected to adopt the Revised one (all in good time). I’m thankful for the many available translations, each with its strengths and weaknesses. O for a book giving the entire Revised Grail with André Gouzes’ rich psalm tones…one can dream.

  6. In my experience, the translation won’t matter that much as paraphrase versions of the Lectionary psalm or a completely different psalm, or a song loosely based on a psalm will continue to be used.

  7. Good news about the use of the Revised Grail Psalter. I’m always looking for good psalm tones to use. Presently we use the Anglican Psalm tones and have recently added the Psalm tones found the the ICEL version of the Psalter (once “approved” by our Bishops, then withdrawn.) Any suggestions most gratefully received!
    Sr Michaelene Devine

  8. Let’s not forget that since 1968 the USCCB has had Rome’s permission to encourage the SINGING of psalms that the psalters and metrical psalters of all Christian churches and ecclesial communities may be used to SING the psalms.

    The approval of Grail 4 means that it must be the one RECITED as the responsorial psalm at Mass when the Grail 4 psalter is promulgated.

    1. Paul

      Did that approval to psalters in existence in 1968? Or was the language of the approval more expansive?

    2. That may be so Paul, but I’ve read that the reason for the approval of Grail, it is easy to sing, and is better for choirs and cantors. Unless the GIRM is changed that the Responsorial Psalm must be recited at Mass, I don’t see that happening.

  9. The text from the US Appendix read: “As a further alternative to the singing of the entrance [responsorial/communion] antiphon and psalm of the Roman Gradual (Missal) or of the Simple Gradual, the Conference of Bishops has approved the use of other collections of psalms and antiphons in English, as supplements to the Simple Gradual, including psalms arranged in responsorial form, metrical and similar versions of psalms, provided they are used in accordance with the principles of the Simple Gradual and are selected in harmony with the liturgical season, feast or occasion (decree confirmed by the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy, December 17,1968).” That seems expansive to me.

  10. Allow me to speak for GIA. Firstly, we have not been officially informed. Secondly, however, we do know that the recognitio included several hundred alterations. As soon as we receive them, introduce them into the text, proofread, etc., the text will be released. It took the Vatican two years to process the recognitio. It’ll take GIA at least a week or so. Hang in there.

  11. we do know that the recognitio included several hundred alterations.

    Thanks for this info, Bob.

    Once again, we seem to see a small group of unaccountable people who have not been privy to the editorial discussions, biblical scholarship, prior knowledge, etc, that has gone into the making of this text indulging in arbitrary decisions which will affect the life of the Church for years to come. “Don’t trust the experts — we know best” seems to be the motto of Vox Clara/the Congregation these days. I imagine that the estimable Abbot Gregory will be spitting blood.

    (Having said that, I admit to having uncovered several apparent errors in what was supposed to be the final Grail text. Perhaps these will have been fixed.)

  12. Once again, we seem to see a small group of unaccountable people … indulging in arbitrary decisions which will affect the life of the Church for years to come.

    Interestingly, that is kind of the same attitude many liturgical musicians in the trenches have toward the big publishers and the diocesan offices of worship.

    1. I can’t wait to see the preferential treatment the “Big 3” get from ICEL with the publication and implementation of the Missal.

  13. Unlike the Canadian bishops and most of the mainline Protestant churches who have the courage and leadership ability to publish a Service Book-Hymnal for the general use of the folks in the pews, the US bishops gave up their teaching authority to “the big 3” with the result of the “pick and choose” parishes based on whatever throw away worship aid is in the pews. Most of those “worship aids” chosen by a pastor with no consultation with anyone other than the sales rep of his favorite pubisher.

    1. Well they didn’t exactly give it up since they never had it. Pre-V2 in the US is a checkered history of a zillion mediocre hymnals published by just about any religious order or publishing house one would know of. The comparison to Canada and the mainline Prots doesn’t quite work because of our much more diverse demographics. What language, pray tell, would a national US Catholic hymnal be in? There are dozens and dozens of languages are used every Sunday in the US church. To say nothing of all the style questions for Vietnamese, black, Hispanic (in many varieties) and Anglo-European Catholics, to name just a few major groups.
      awr

  14. Aside from the music issue, the biggest (and saddest) issue concerning big companies and the liturgy is that the actual words of the Catholic liturgy are held under strict copyright that only the select few can print. Unlike the mainline protestant churches where, rightly, the words of the liturgy can be used more freely.

  15. With all the languages, you’d have a number of different national hymnals. Typically a single parish has one or two, maybe three languages in which Mass is said, and most have just one language, so it’s not as though most parishes will have to invest in dozens of different hymnals. English and Spanish would, it seems to me, be the major national hymnals if there were such things. This is the case in Lutheran and other Protestant denominations that have official hymnals (and typically, other hymnals are not prohibited).

  16. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a copy of the Mundelein Psalter, but I’m not sure whether a new version will come out with the New Grail translation. It’s not a cheap book. Does anyone know anything?

  17. Hopefully some of the several hundred alterations included with the recognitio will address some of the issues Paul and Anthony have identified.

    A bigger issue is the possible wholesale adoption by ICPEL of the Revised Grail translation for the Lectionary responses in place of the ICEL translations. That will have some significant musical ramifications without necessarily improving conformance to LA.

    If you can’t wait for GIA’s extra week of tidy ups, you can purchase the new Kenyan Liturgy of the Hours. More than a year ago, the Holy See issued Kenya with its recognitio of their request to use the Revised Grail translation. They published their new LOH last year. It’s available through Pauline Books Africa.

    It’ll be interesting to see if there are differences between the Kenyan version and the US version, with its several hundred alterations.

  18. The US is not a part of ICPEL, so no matter what they do, we will still have the ICEL Lectionary responses until the day the US Bishops approve a new Lectionary AND Rome grants its recognitio.

    Some of the 341 changes in the version submitted by the bishops are unclear. These are matters between the US Bishops, the translators, and Rome. GIA has not received the changes, and will not until these matters are resolved. Then our week (or two) of “tidy ups” begins.

    Lastly, the Kenyan report is true, but it is almost certain that the versions will not match.

  19. If you can’t wait for GIA’s extra week of tidy ups, you can purchase the new Kenyan Liturgy of the Hours. More than a year ago, the Holy See issued Kenya with its recognitio of their request to use the Revised Grail translation. They published their new LOH last year. It’s available through Pauline Books Africa.

    It’ll be interesting to see if there are differences between the Kenyan version and the US version, with its several hundred alterations.

    There will be differences, alas. The grapevine says that Rome is of the opinion that the Kenyan version is not the final text! (In which case, why did they give it recognitio? one might well ask. The answer may lie in the fact that Vox Clara did not realize what was going on at that point. Now they have apparently muscled in…) (ctd)

  20. (ctd) A much more relevant question is why Vox Clara feels it appropriate to correct what CDWDS had signed off on in the Fall last year. Abbot Gregory must be indignant that people who are not scholars and who have not been part of the detailed work that has been going on feel competent to tinker with what had apparently already been decided and signed off on definitively in October 2009.

    ICPEL has already decided that the responses to the psalms should conform to the actual psalm text used in the psalm verses, unlike the ICEL responses for which, for purely political reasons (and an untold story lies behind that), ICEL decided in 1970 (unbelievably) to produce a version that was completely independent of any scripture version. The US and Australia have suffered from this ever since.

  21. For information, I should correct my mistaken assumption that the statement, quoted in my original post starting this thread, originated from Msgr Anthony Sherman. It actually emanated from Bishop Serratelli.

  22. As an aside, they did the same thing with the translation of the GIRM. The editions issued by the US, the UK, and Australia all of a sudden became interim translations and a new version was drafted by ICEL.

  23. Fr. Anthony, you are correct. There were hundreds of hymnals available before Vatican II. It seems to me the bishops had or have the authority to mandate a national service book-hymnal after sufficient study and consultation when they came home from Vatican II. They didn’t. The Canadian bishops did. Somehow they solved the problem of the multi-language Church. Somehow Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and other mainline Protestant Churches found a way to solve the multi-language gift of their Church. The US bishops didn’t. And, at about the same time effectively turned over their teaching authority to a Franciscan sister who owned a TV station in Alabama from whence sprung a good deal of the radically conservative tension we suffer now.

    1. According to Abp Weakland, the failure of the US to adopt a national hymnal was a decision by Cdl Dearden in favor of letting the marketplace fill the need. Weakland regrets not having pushed back hard enough.

    1. But presumably without the hundreds of ‘corrections’ that Bob Batastini notified us about. (I’m assuming he is right — i.e. that the “final” text has been amended by the CDWDS. It seems fairly typical of what is going on at present.)

  24. I have realized that one of the things that the CDWDS has to do is harmonize the amendments proposed by the 11 Episcopal Conferences of ICEL. Sometimes the results are of a poorer quality than the proposed versions. I’m still not enamored with the request of the deacon to the priest before the proclamation of the Gospel. I wondered if something happened like this with the Revised Grail Psalter?

  25. I don’t think it’s a parallel case, since most conferences have not yet requested recognitio for the new Grail version (and I suspect that some do not yet even know that it exists). I am not aware that the US Conference requested any amendments to the work done by Abbot Gregory and his consultors.

  26. I’m still not enamored with the request of the deacon to the priest before the proclamation of the Gospel.

    Apart from anything else, it needs a question-mark rather than a period!

  27. This needs to be tagged with “Grail Psalter” in addition to Announcements, BCDW / USCCB, CDW / Holy See, Lectionary / Liturgy of Word, Music: General, Translation / New Missal.

  28. ICPEL has already decided that the responses to the psalms should conform to the actual psalm text used in the psalm verses

    Certainly what I’ve seen of the first draft of the lectionary would reflect such a decision, but in Australia we have been told that this decision has not yet been finalized. I would have hoped that ICPEL would want to work with other organizations to achieve a common translation of psalms and psalm responses.

  29. unlike the ICEL responses for which, for purely political reasons (and an untold story lies behind that), ICEL decided in 1970 (unbelievably) to produce a version that was completely independent of any scripture version.

    It’s not so unbelievable. As I understand it, they simply translated the Latin texts of the psalm responses and Alleluia verses that were contained in the Ordo Lectionum Missae editio typica. Notably these Latin texts were not exact scripture quotations. It’s also notable that as much as half of the Gregorian chant propers are not exact scripture quotations, having been textually adjusted to provide a text suited for singing (cf. James McKinnon, Advent Project, 103).

  30. The US and Australia have suffered from this ever since.

    It’s not just the US and Australia that have “suffered” the ICEL translations. Certainly Canada and New Zealand can be added to the list of “sufferers.” Looking beyond English translations, other countries such as France and Italy have taken the approach of providing a close translation of the Latin response in the Ordo Lectionum Missae rather than trying to adapt the translation of the referenced psalm verse to make it a response.

  31. An example: the psalm response for Epiphany in the Ordo Lectionum Missae is “Adorabunt te, Domine, omnes gentes terrae (Ps 71, 1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R: cf. 11).” 

    Ps71, 11 in Nova Vulgata reads: “Et adorabunt eum omnes reges, omnes gentes servient ei”, and the Vulgata Clementina: “et adorabunt eum omnes reges terræ; omnes gentes servient ei.” Conclusion – the response is a non-literal adaptation of v11 for singing purposes.

    ICEL (used by most of the English-speaking world other than UK and Ireland) has “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” The French lectionary: “Parmi toutes les nations, Seigneur, on connaitra ton salut.” In the Italian lectionary: “Ti adoreranno, Signore, tutti i popoli della terra.”

    The proposed ICPEL translation, based on v11 from the Revised Grail’s literal translation of the Hebrew: “Before you, all nations shall fall prostrate, O Lord.”

  32. Continued …

    My point is, why use an adaptation of a literal translation of the Hebrew to translate a non-literal scripture-based Latin text composed specifically for the Ordo Lectionum Missae for the purposes of facilitating singing? The English language would not have the word “adore” without its Latin root (adorare), and here we are improving our translation of “adorabunt” to now be “fall prostrate.”

    I can’t see how this provides improved conformance with Liturgiam Authenticam, particularly when para 41 of that document says to take special note of the Nova Vulgata and the Septuagint when translating the psalms.

    It certainly is less singable than the ICEL translation we currently “suffer.”

  33. You have, of course, selected one of the few responses where the current ICEL version is infinitely better as a response for singing than one derived from the Grail. Most of them, however, are not, and provide the problem of one set of words in the response and another in the psalm verse. In Australia, they sing “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” in the current ICEL response, and then, a few moments later, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” in the Grail translation of the verses. The captions to the readings are even worse. ICEL may have “Hannah” while the scripture you are using may have “Anna”. And so it goes on, and on.

    There may be a few blips, such as those that Paul Mason points out but, on the whole, divorcing the wording of the responses from the verses, and the captions to the readings from the wording of the scripture passage produces nothing more than liturgical nonsense. (ctd)

  34. (ctd) In fact, comparatively few of the Lectionary responses are non-literal. The vast majority are derived literally from the psalm text itself, or from elsewhere in scripture.

    The complete untold history of the ICEL 1970 translation of the Ordo Lectionum Missae may be revealed one day, but this is not the place for it. Suffice it to say that ICEL did not actually translate a single word of that Latin document in order to arrive at their ‘translation’. They took a short cut, and their ‘work’ was completely without reference to any version of scripture. I know, because I saw it happen. One day I must write my memoirs!

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