Paragraphs reversed in Exsultet

The longer and shorter forms of the Easter Praeconium have two paragraphs in reverse order towards the end of the text.

In the longer form:

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honor,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

In the shorter form:

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth
and divine to the human.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

Any deep theological significance to this, or just a simple error?

Hat tip to http://www.ssg.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1411&start=45#p20421

13 comments

  1. Hi, Paul. Thanks again for all the beautiful music.

    I would chalk this up to just another foul up in the grotesque “new” Roman Missal.

    Speaking of which . . . if there are any poets out there . . . is not the Proclamation just about the ugliest text in the VC2010?

    1. @Fr. Jim Blue – comment #1:
      … I’ll be chanting the Exultet bilngually (Spanish and English),…Unlike in English the spanish version has not be revised to the Roman Missal version of 2012…Can the former version be sung instead of the new translation from the Roman Missal?…

  2. Maybe it would be interesting to see how these same three paragraphs were translated in the failed 1998 version:

    ———————
    O truly blessed night
    when heaven is wedded to earth
    and we are reconciled with God!

    Therefore, Father most holy, in the joy of this night,
    receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
    the solemn offering of your holy people.

    Accept this Easter candle,
    a flame divided but undimmed,
    a pillar of fire that glows to the honour of God.
    ———————

    Yup, that’s it. Hmm, odd … the “wedded” line has somehow migrated two paragraphs up. Plus, “holy Church” has become the man-centered “holy people,” and the text has been reduced to nearly the simplest English possible.

    1. Philip,

      Once again, as you don’t seem to know it, it becomes necessary to make the point that the rules of translation were changed. The 1998 translators were under no obligation to keep the order of the phrases the same. The 2011 translators were. Therefore, it’s nonsense to task 1998 with not following the rules that the 2011 version was supposed to have obeyed. But it’s NOT nonsense to call to task 2011 for not following them.

      Second, sorry, but to say that “holy people” is man-centered is evidence of theological ignorance and pre-existing bias against the text. It is no such thing in reality. Theologically, this is perfectly sound. You cannot have a “holy people” absent the holiness of God. It’s an impossibility. Have you never heard of the concept “people of God” — so much favored at Vatican II? Have you never read the Old and New Testaments, from which this term is derived? Do you think that “Church” is some sort of magic term that alone may carry the weight of divine presence? No, this put-down of “holy people” as “man-centered” is totally inappropriate.

      If you want to argue against praying in simple English, go ahead, but the rest of this will not hold water.

      1. The Good Friday prayers, both pre- and post-Vatican II, mention the “holy people of God”:

        1957: 2. PRO SUMMO PONTIFICE
        ORÉMUS et pro beatíssimo Papa nostro N:
        ut Deus et Dóminus noster,
        qui elégit eum in órdine episcopátus,
        salvum atque incólumen custódiat Ecclésiae suae sanctae,
        ad regéndum pópulum sanctum Dei.

        1962: 2. PRO SUMMO PONTIFICE
        Oremus et pro beatíssimo Papa nostro N.
        ut Deus et Dóminus noster,
        qui elégit eum in órdine episcopátus,
        salvum atque incolumen custódiat Ecclésiae suae sanctae,
        ad regéndum pópuIum sanctum Dei.

        2002: II. Pro Papa
        Orémus et pro beatíssimo Papa nostro N.,
        ut Deus et Dóminus noster,
        qui elégit eum in órdine episcopátus,
        salvum atque incólumem custódiat Ecclésiae suae sanctae,
        ad regéndum pópulum sanctum Dei.

        Is the problem that the 1998 Exsultet rendered “holy Church” as “holy people”? The merit of the translation of “ecclesia” as “people” instead of “church” is one thing, but there is a very long pedigree for speaking of the members of holy Church as holy people.

      2. Oh, those Modernists! Ya never know where ya gonna find ’em. Hiding under rocks … or the old Missale Romanum.

  3. As the liturgical year progresses, will the shoddy workmanship and blunders committed in preparing this missal never cease?
    How many more “Jacks” are going to jump out of this box?

  4. Blame the Latin compilers of the 1970 Missale Romanum – that’s where you’ll find the difference. And I wonder whether the redactors of the shorter version actually intended this alteration, because they recognised that the sentence ‘O truly blessed night, when things of heaven…’ interrupts the flow of thought from candle, wax and ‘mother bee’ (singular in the Latin) to the following concluding text, which begins ‘Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle…’. They therefore relocated ‘O truly blessed night, when things of heaven…’ one sentence earlier.

  5. What makes things even more interesting is that the long form of the former English translation also makes the switch and follows the paragraph order of the shorter version:

    The power of this holy night….
    Night truly blessed….heaven wedded
    Therefore heavenly Father…receive
    Accept this Easter candle…

    So I checked it against a 19th century Missal and what did I find..the liturgy had actions that did what the Exsultet said, so the long form ordering of the paragraphs made sense:

    First, “On this, your night of grace….” In the 19th century this was the moment when the incense grains were added to the Candle and the Exsultet asked God to accept the incense as the evening sacrifice (a la Psalm 141). And that made sense. BTW the new English changes the Latin substantially at this point – the Candle should not be mentioned at all until later in the paragraph.

    The first two lines of “But now we know…”
    These are a separate sentence and paragraph in the current Latin. They were attached to the previous paragraph in the 19th century. It was at the end of this sentence that the Easter Candle itself was lit. And that made sense.

    …a fire into many flames….mother bee.
    This is a separate paragraph in the Latin. After this, in the 19th century, the lights in the church were lit – even though it was Saturday morning – and so the church became illuminated like the heavens. After this came “O truly blessed night…” And that made sense.

    So, here it comes…if you take away the incense and the lighting of candles and interior lights of the church, the paragraphs no longer make sense in that order. They were not changed in the long form Latin (which would be typical of Roman conservatism) but perhaps the drafters thought it could change in the new short form Latin and in both of the former English versions, because that made (makes) more sense liturgically.

    Happy Easter all!

    1. “…because that made (makes) more sense liturgically.”

      [snark]

      Now, why on earth [OR in heaven} would ‘the Church’ want to do that?? I thought making sense was expressly forbidden.

      [/snark]

      Happy Easter!

  6. Just a report from on the ground, but all of this doesn’t much matter at my parish. With an aging pastor and an aging choir, we’re doing the same music we’ve used in recent years except that some of the solo parts will be done by choir.

    No harm done – and I think we need to accept that there are cultural differences from parish to parish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *