Dutch-Flemish divide delays new Missal

Today’s Tablet reports (http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/162447):

Liturgists from the Netherlands and Belgium may fail to agree on a single Dutch-language Missal due to slight differences in the way the language is spoken in the two countries, according to Cardinal Wim Eijk of Utrecht.

At present the two bishops’ conferences have slightly divergent texts but they have been required to produce a single Missal in the vernacular to satisfy the demands of Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2001 Vatican instruction that sparked the recent changes to the Mass in English.

The new translation has to be closer to the Latin original, but also expressed in understandable Dutch. “That’s not an easy task because there are several differences between northern and southern Dutch,” Cardinal Eijk told the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio. “So it is unlikely we’ll achieve a unified version of the Our Father.” With about 22 million speakers, Dutch only has a small pool of experts to update the translation, which has to be approved by a mixed commission including two Dutch and two Belgian bishops.

Flemish is the Belgian version of Dutch, different mostly in accent and style. The current Belgian Lord’s Prayer starts “Our Father, who art in the heavens, hallowed be thy name”. The Dutch version says “Our Father, who art in heaven, may your name be hallowed.”

Both use the word “debts” rather than “trespasses”, but the Belgians and Dutch phrase the line differently. “As we forgive others their debts” the Dutch version continues, while the Belgian text says “as we forgive our debtors”.

Makes the much larger differences between English as spoken in different parts of the world look like an unsuperable obstacle. Oh well.


  1. Fr Ruff

    I’ve had to deal with English/Vlaams & English/Dutch translation for a client in the last six months: native speakers tell me that there is a greater distance between Flemish and Dutch than there is between English and American English (I am told that a better comparison is between the European and Brazillian variants of Portugese); the translation prepared for the Belgians was considered old-fashioned and stilted by the Dutch, while the Belgians found the Dutch translation border-line incomprehensible.

    1. The schools in both countries teach what is called Algemeen Nederlands (Standard Dutch), so I think perhaps your contacts exaggerated the difference. There is a quite noticeable difference in accent that even a non-native speaker can quickly pick up on, but the written language as taught in the schools is identical. In fact, the songs of the Dutch poet/hymn-writer Huub Oosterhuis are widely sung in Flemish churches.

      1. I wish that I’d thought to ask on here, Fritz, as my contacts in Amsterdam and Antwerp gave me a real headache! Thank you.

      2. the songs of the Dutch poet/hymn-writer Huub Oosterhuis are widely sung in Flemish churches

        often with music by Bernard Huijbers. I am told that these are also used in Luxembourg, even though they speak Plattdeutsch there.

        Clearly, even if the written language is identical, the phraseology is not — as with the differences in the Lord’s Prayer noted above.

  2. Translations of popular prayers are even more fraught with problems than Vox Clara translations. It doesn’t surprise me that the Flemish and Dutch folk have fallen out over something as fundamental as the Lord’s Prayer. In English we still say ‘trespasses’, knowing full well that it is now a poor translation; efforts to use a more modern and accurate version have largely failed except in the Church of England Common Worship and derivatives thereof. Tradition, national and ecclesial, which is a major binding force of community, is not to be underestimated.

    1. In terms of the Lord’s Prayer, it would have been quite a slap in the face to ecumenism in the south where the majority of Catholics and Protestants pray the Lord’s Prayer as we have it in the English missal and with the “thys.” To have updated that to a more modern version would have created problems as Catholics and Protestants recite the Lord’s Prayer in other venues together and often. When I was in public school and we were still allowed to pray (in Georgia up to about 1968), Catholics and Protestants were praying together the Lord’s Prayer with the same words that gratefully we still use today.

      1. So, Allan, you’re all for a return to Common Texts, jettisoned by Liturgiam Authenticam?

      2. I don’t know about your part of the world, but in other public venues we don’t normally say together the Gloria, Creed and Sanctus and very few Protestants come to our Mass on Sunday and when they come to our funerals and weddings, very few participate verbally, although we encourage them to do so. So that’s a smoke screen to say the least this common text idea for Sunday Liturgies. But the Lord’s Prayer is quite different, here in the south anyway!
        Next Sunday we’ll have 150 dignitaries of various religious and no religious backgrounds at Mass for the Opening Religious service of the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. (We have more Cherry Blossom Trees than Washington, DC!) We’ll encourage them to sing and we’ve pick out a couple of Protestant hymns to encourage it, but we’ll sing the Lord’s Prayer and probably lose them on that one! Why don’t you come to Macon for it: http://www.cherryblossom.com/ And by the grace of God it is also Laetarae Sunday and guess what color chasuble I’ll be wearing with my lace alb? You guessed it, Cherry Blossom Pink! Life is good!

      3. Chris – you did catch the language Fr. Allan is utilizing:
        – Laetarae Sunday – again, his alternative universe; feels like Natchez, MS where every spring they do dance and country club flings celebrating the “War of Northern Aggression” – and some folks actually believe this bunk
        – “Protestant hymns” – what a way to describe some of the great music of a common and shared faith. Guess the ecumenical direction of Vatican II never made it to Macon

      4. BIll,

        Sorry, but maybe I’m missing your point. Is there a problem with calling the 4th Sunday in Lent Laetare Sunday, or were you complaining about the misspelling?

      5. Well, Deacon, my point is that in my experience, emphasizing Laetare (yes, Fr. Allan misspelling but we attribute that to english being his second language and also his 1970s “liberal seminary” education) is most associated with EF.

        If you have parish lenten focus; if your parish is focused on RCIA, etc.; doubt that Laetare will be highlighted using “rose colored vestments” or even any attention being spent on an “older” interpretation and viewpoint (playing the legal game with Sundays being not part of the Lenten fast, etc.). Given that “laetare” comes from the introit – how many US parishes will even use the introit that day? Guess I am saying – what is the essential message and focus – rose, etc.??

        Would rather take another “older” Sunday name – “loaves and fishes” to at least emphasize the gospel and its message.

        But, to each his own.

      6. in my experience, emphasizing Laetare is most associated with EF

        And in my experience, it’s not. I knew of it as Laetare Sunday (and Advent III as Gaudete Sunday) before I knew about the Tridentine liturgy, and I never linked the two, really, since (as far as I have read) the origin of the color precedes Trent by several centuries.

        doubt that Laetare will be highlighted using “rose colored vestments” or even any attention being spent on an “older” interpretation and viewpoint

        Bill, what makes “Laetare” and rose vestments and the “older” interpretation of the 4th Sunday incompatible with Lent IV in the modern Roman Rite in 2012?

        At my former parish, we did mention the Latin names of Lent IV and Advent III at RCIA. (I overheard Advent III humorously being called “Gallaudet Sunday” at the kids’ Liturgy of the Word one day.) Of course, we didn’t stop there.

        playing the legal game with Sundays being not part of the Lenten fast

        Again, in my experience, I heard of this from my “ordinary form” parish growing up. And Fr. Z, who wears rose vestments and all that, wrote only a couple of weeks ago that Sundays in Lent are still days in Lent and that we should treat them as such.

        what is the essential message and focus – rose

        Since “laetare” has nothing to do with the color rose, I would not expect “rose” to be the essential message or focus. Rather, “laetare” is the reason for the rose and the other liturgical differences permitted that day. Rejoice in Lent!

        (P.S. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that “Quasimodo” which I know from the Hunchback of Notre Dame comes from the Latin name for that Sunday. Just a way that Latin Catholic culture sneaks into the literary world and thus into popular culture… assuming people still know about the Hunchback.)

        (P.P.S. Fr. Allan & Bill: I know I am out of order to say this, and the Desert Fathers would disapprove, but I really wish you two would bury the hatchet — not in one another — or at least take your back-and-forth offline. It’s unpleasant to read and I think it detracts from the otherwise enjoyable level of conversation that PTB has been home to recently, not to mention it’s often off-topic.)

      7. Bill, it is now obvious that you’ve had an impoverished OF experience all your life if you think that Laetare Sunday is only EF. I experienced rose vestments for the 4th Sunday of Lent and the 3rd Sunday of Advent (the the rose candle lighted then too) since my seminary days in a liberal seminary. I’m appalled but not shocked that you haven’t and you think these are EF traditions! Your impoverishment of not knowing these two Sundays are still in the OF calendar with the option of rose is almost as bad as the fact that this blog’s spell check doesn’t correct Latin misspellings! 🙂 And then on top of that you think calling a hymn “Protestant” is derogatory. I would say calling great hymns that are Protestant a compliment. I guess it all depends on your perspective. You must not be very ecumenical and seem to also have ( I know it’s a split infinitive) some prejudice against the south and our Bible Belt! Very sad indeed! 🙁 And yes Jeffery you are right and I’ll try to stop. Sometimes I’m successful but at other times not.

      8. “guess what color chasuble I’ll be wearing with my lace alb? You guessed it, Cherry Blossom Pink! Life is good!”

        So this is your priority – what YOU will wear! Not the upbuilding of the People of God. And what’s with the interest in Latin when your spelling indicates you can’t even tell the difference between a Deponent Imperative and a First Declension noun?

  3. This sort of issue may make a reappearance in the emerging efforts at creating an Anglican Use liturgical book for the use of ALL the Anglican Ordinariates of the world that have been or are soon to be erected. The Book of Divine Worship used in the US is nearly the same as the 1928 and 1979 American BCPs. Our English friends have made it known that they are not exactly keen on these texts.

    As is widely known, English Anglo-Catholics have for decades used not The Anglican Missal nor the BCP, but have unabashedly adopted the Roman Novus Ordo in English. We Americans are quite wedded to and passionate about rite I with its Tudor English. (Of perhaps two dozen ordinariate parishes and parishes-in-waiting, one, only one, uses rite II; the rest would never think of doing so. Yea, it is an embarassment in our Book!

    So what comes out of current dialogue between we Americans, the British, and other imminent ordinariates in the way of a common ‘Book of Divine Worship’ remains to be seen. Too, many in the US would like to see The Authorised Version (= King James) as licit for optional use in the Lectionary. This IS under serious consideration.

    English English, American English, S African Eng, Indian Eng, Australian Eng, and on and on, all places where there are potential and talked about ordinariates, each has a distinctive ‘English’, and more problematic, varying degress of respect for older forms of heiratic English, which, one would have thought, would be a great unifying factor.

    What a mighty shadow Babel casts!

    Who is the patron saint of speech or languages?
    May he (or she) pray for the Dutch and for us.
    May he pray also for those in anguish over the new translation!

  4. Why the phlegm over the likes of ‘Laetare Sunday’ and other such customs bequeathed to us? Where is it engraved in stone that there is a ‘wall of separation’ between anything which may be imagined to reek of the ‘ancien regime’ (read: EF) and that which (thankfully) followed it. One who was reared Anglican observes in quiet befuddlement at the near-wholesale jettisoning of such inherited culturally and spiritually pregnant customs which are part and parcel of our patrimony. Those of us of Anglican heritage (and even quite a few Lutherans!), who never knew the EF, have for continuing centuries knowledgeably referred to ‘Laetare’, ‘Gaudete’, ‘Jubilate’, and a host of other days and Sundays; have referenced psalms and canticles, parts of the mass, Latin hymnody and propers, etc., by their Latin incipits, and think it downright queer not to. This is not progress. It is a rather sef-conscious pseudo-modern exercise in ecclesial emaciation. It doesn’t sound like a beneficent gift of XXI. century churchmanship: it just sounds ill-informed and silly (if not deliberately Robbespierresque). One might add the same in regard to the fashionable pique against any and all seemly solemnity surrounding the celebration of the sacred mysteries and other ritual and worship which take place in the sacred precincts of God’s House. One has often heard the rather silly assertion that ‘well, God doesn’t care about these things’: for one thing, we can’t be so sure that he doesn’t, but, more importantly, it is imperative, our ‘bounden duty’, and oh-so-fitting that we DO care (and, I’m rather certain that God does care that we care). So, at the end of this third week of Lent (following this third Sunday IN Lent), I hope that all will have a little respite on Laetare Sunday and indulge in some grateful reflection over our wondrous Catholic heritage and culture. (And, if the vestments you wear are more pink than real rose, I shall be amongst those who are rather put off.)

    1. There’s a *very* liberal Lutheran church in my city that still uses many Latin names – including the pre-Lent Sundays (Septuagesima), even though their liturgy is basically a gender-inclusive version of the OF.

      I attended rather average parishes growing up and remember the rose-colored Sundays, so it never struck me as something re-adopted from the EF. Not that such a thing would be bad if it were – the EF is a gold mine of wonderful customs and traditions.

  5. I think Bill’s point is that the Latin words gaudete and laetare convey nothing to the ordinary Catholic who comes to celebrate Mass. As far as rose vestments go, I will wear one for the first time this Lent because I finally happened upon one that is a beautiful shade of rose. Over the years, every rose vestment I’ve ever seen was pink and feminine.

    1. I wonder if the word Hebrew word “hosanna” conveys anything to the ordinary Catholic who comes to celebrate Mass.

      There’s no reason words like “gaudete” and “laetare” and “hosanna” must remain simply foreign (or alien, as the NAB would say…) words in the ears or on the tongues of “ordinary Catholics”. It could be as painless as a bulletin blurb, or it could be somehow worked into a relevant homily (perhaps on the words of some ancient hymn we still sing).

  6. Before JP nitpicks this to death, you all have missed my point in #11. That is my fault…am also assuming and connecting this to Father’s earlier blogs about his EF celebrations with Schubert (?) on his patronal feast days.

    When I mentioned RCIA, etc. or even the liturgical ressourcement of Vatican II (look back through 20 years of Lenten works by Liturgy Training Publications under Gabe Huck); you would be hardpressed to find someone focusing on “laetare” and “rose colored”. The focus is on our lenten journey (without really breaking it up with Laetare/Rose) and following as a community/parish the RCIA steps.

    My poorly written/brief thoughts were that my experience was that the candidates and catechumens were our focus and that “minor” historical items such as Laetare or Rose or highlighting Sundays as lenten fasting exceptions, etc. were revised and moved away from. Remember many excellent homilies and even musical choices that may have incorporated “laetare” but not to the exclusion of the primary purpose of lent; the scrutinies, etc.

    Obviously, I am the only one who feels that there is a pattern among some posts that focus on EF ancillaries, “old” historical items, etc. which appear to become the focus of attention. My education was to move away from those items as “getting in the way” of fully entering into our lenten journey. Feel the same way about huge patronal celebrations during Lent e.g. St. Joseph’s Altars in New Orleans. What happens is that folks fixate on these celebrations to the minimization of our journey to the paschal mystery. My experience was that this “could” be confusing for younger folks who would get sidetracked into the minutiae of lenten rules that were waived for certain cultural, parish, or diocesan/festal reasons.

    JP – there is a significant difference between the use of “hosanna” and “gaudete”. Also, the issue is not legality – there are things you can do legally in liturgy but is it wise?… There are big picture questions.

    Finally, Paul Inwood, please accept my apologies for completing skewing and diverting your excellent original post. In some ways and using a very sloppy analogy, the language differences in Holland which mean things to those impacted parishes (rather than one LA induced translation) is similar to what I perceive when things such as “laetare” are highlighted at the expense of our lenten journey. To me, those Dutch parishes’ need for a meaningful translation is of a higher value than anything LA says….so, our lenten journey to the Triduum is of a higher value than an older approach that, in my opinion, more closely approximates my experience in grade school – pre-VII.

    1. Bill, you think too much of me! And if consider my addressing your remarks one at a time (in the manner I did above) is nit-picking, I apologize. I was only trying to be thorough and orderly, not nit-picky. I’m used to conversations done via email or newsgroups, where the older remarks of earlier participants are quoted above the newer remarks of the person replying. I mean no disrespect by my method. (I’ve avoided using it in this post.)

      No one, apart from you (and me in my reply to you), spoke of focusing on “laetare” or pink/rose vestments. I don’t think anyone is recommending focusing on that word or that color (or even the tradition behind either of them) in RCIA or elsewhere; nor did I see anyone recommending (over)emphasizing those traditions to the exclusion of the Scrutinies or the wider picture of Lent.

      My earlier point is that “laetare” and rose vestments point to what the focus IS, which is rejoicing during Lent. (That is at least one focal point of Lent IV.) I don’t see the traditions surrounding Lent IV as “breaking up” our Lenten journey. They just denote yet another step or stage in the journey.

      And yes, there’s a world of difference between “gaudete” and “hosanna”. We use “hosanna” a lot more often; there’s a greater imperative for us to understand that word than “gaudete”.

      1. Jeffery, part of the official words of the Mass for both the 4th Sunday of Lent and the Third Sunday of Advent is the official Entrance chant which in the post-Vatican II revised Mass still has the official first word , Rejoice, laetare for Lent and gaudete for Advent. I would be interested in knowing the difference in meaning of these two Latin words which are translated into English using the same word, “rejoice.” There must be some nuanced difference but I don’t know what it is.
        In terms of the RCIA process for those preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation, but also the fully initiated, the Church is going through the purification period of Lent. The official Entrance Chant which no one ever hears any more, or I should say, only a minority hear today, holds an important message for our Lenten journey. The same is true of Advent and our preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. It is sad that we don’t use the first option for the Entrance Chant but the 4th option, some other chant (song) which usually doesn’t incorporate the word “rejoice” and the ensuing Psalm. This has led to an impoverishment of these two Sundays which we can call Laetare Sunday and Gaudete Sunday, but these terms and the Rose color option for vestments only make sense when the official chant is sung, either in English or Latin with the words laetare and gaudete or simply “rejoice.”

      2. “No one, apart from you (and me in my reply to you), spoke of focusing on “laetare” or pink/rose vestments.” J.Pinyan March 12, 8.29 p.m.

        “by the grace of God it is also Laetarae (sic) Sunday and guess what color chasuble I’ll be wearing with my lace alb? You guessed it, Cherry Blossom Pink! ” Father A. J. McDonald March 11, 7.11 a.m.

      3. I have a confession to make, the cherry blossom pink is really the rose chasuble that our parish owns. I don’t really own a lace alb. However I don’t have any hang-ups about lace albs. The last sentence that you quote of my comment was tongue in cheek and not the gist of my response.

      4. Gerald, Fr. Allan’s response to your post notwithstanding, his simply mentioning that Laetare Sunday is coming and that he’s going to wear a rose-colored chasuble is not what I meant by “focusing”. That’s mentioning. I didn’t detect anything in Fr. Allan’s comments that would imply he’s elevating the name of the day or the color of the vestment over the actual importance of the day.

      5. “And by the grace of God it is also Laetarae (sic) Sunday and guess what color chasuble I’ll be wearing with my lace alb? You guessed it, Cherry Blossom Pink! LIFE IS GOOD! ” (Capitalisation mine.)
        Father A. J. McDonald

        “focus on: pay particular attention to” OED
        Nit-picking notwithstanding.

  7. Bravo to JP –
    Focusing on our Lenten pilgrimage was beautifully defended by BdH.. but for his seeming view that ‘laetare’ and its surrounding customs are a distraction from that pilgrimage. They are not. They are part and parcel of untold centuries of Catholic Lenten pilgrimages, and suddenly to view them as strange or foreign is, verily, to engage in the very sort of calculated cultural dismantling which I objected to above. If Anglicans and Lutherans are taught these things while Catholic educators throw them in the dust bin, something is woefully wrong. If the average Catholic doesn’t know these things it is because his teachers have an incredible bias against them… which means that they are products of the very worst and shabbiest attitudes that prevailed after Vatican II. If ‘the average Catholic’ doesn’t know his culture, then teach it to him and her – and then we can’t dismiss it because no one knows it. This is the only honest and responsible course.

    Fr Feehily –
    Congratulations on your new rose vestments! Finding actual rose ones cannot have been easy.

    1. I would submit that if culture has to be taught in the classroom, then it is no longer culture. For example – I have last year’s palms on display behind a copy of the Last Supper hanging in my front room. My mother used to do the same. My daughter places palms behind the icons she has hanging in her house. No one taught us to do this, and we really couldn’t give a reason for it. Now, that is Catholic culture!
      If you want to say the average contemporary Catholic is not familiar with the culture of mid-twentieth century Roman Catholics in America, then you are no doubt correct. Culture tends to shift over time. My observation is that the crucifixes and images of Mary and the saints that adorn my walls are a bit old fashioned; most homes feature an angel or two instead these days.
      Constantly lamenting that Catholics these days are “poorly catechized” or “ignorant of their culture” is beside the point. These statements presume that there was a time when Catholics were properly catechized and knew their culture. The question that needs to be asked is why did those “properly catechized” Catholics choose not to catechize their children with the same knowledge and attitudes. You may propose that Catholics left their culture behind in order to assimilate with the world; but then you will have to explain why “properly catechized” Catholics would do that!
      Except for my daughter putting herself through seminary, I doubt that any of my children could tell you what Laetare Sunday is. However, each child has chosen to live simply and to help others; to build the Kingdom. As far as I am concerned, these young people are “properly catechized”, even the one who calls herself an atheist!

      1. I’m grateful to God that what you’ve written is just your own opinion.

        When I was in College in the US, most of the young people who are active in their faith knew what Laetare Sunday was. I guess that is just one of the many differences between your children and the rest.

      2. Yes, nobody except Brigid holds that opinion or acts that way – eyes rolling.

  8. All culture is taught and learned in some way or another, whether that is by example, observation, or teaching/’catechesis’. This is as true of illiterate primitives as it is of 21st century westerners. To suggest that because something has to be taught it isn’t culture is simply not tenable: everything we are and learn has in some manner been ‘taught’. It is deeply lamentable that so many have not valued many aspects of our culture and failed to pass them on. Of course! we think our children are just fine not knowing such things, even though they are culturally impoverished.

    1. Perhaps the real question is whether we are transmitting the essence of Catholicism. Aspects such as knowing that a certain Sunday is called Laetare Sunday and that rose (not pink) vestments are worn that day can be interesting, but they are hardly the essentials of the Faith. When a custom or practice is passed on only in the classroom, it seems to me that it has lost its place in the living culture.

      The function of classroom learning is to organize and make coherent aspects of the Faith that are learned in the home. For example, Bible studies help a person to understand and appreciate all the references that are part of our culture; Adam & Eve, Noah, Exodus, Moses, David, etc.

      On another recent thread, Scott Pluff made the point that many people today are functionally agnostic. If I understand him correctly, people do not believe in God because they have lost any concept of what I call the Luminous, the notion of the reality behind what we can see. It’s not so much that they don’t believe in God, it’s that they have been blinded to the possibility of God. Secular writers have touched on this from another direction when they discuss the disconnect between people and the natural world. (Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods” is one example.) For me, the most important aspect of Catholic culture is the emphasis on connections. We are connected to the past and tell stories of saints. They are connected to us and offer prayers on our behalf. We are connected to the natural world, and find in it symbols of the supernatural and ultimately of the Creator behind it all.

  9. Are you suggesting that “gay” is a pejorative?

    Criticize the lace and silk all you want for distracting us from Mystery by presenting a false image of God,
    but please leave homophobia of any sort out of the discussion!

    1. “The problem is that Chris’ contributions are all too rare these days. I hope we can look forward to more of the[m] coming in Lent, the springtime of the liturgical year.”

      “Chris’ contributions are ad rem.”

      “Nastiness? Chris speaks the truth.”

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