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.