The following semantic and syntactical analysis of the anamnesis of each of the four main eucharistic prayers of the reformed Missale Romanum and their 2010 Roman Missal translations begins with a discussion of the anamnesis unde et memores in the Roman Canon. This series invites PTB participants to consider both the literary complexity and theological significance of these prayers. The anamnesis, or memorial of the paschal mystery of faith just proclaimed in the memorial acclamation, has sometimes been overlooked as an integral part of Mass just as integral as the consecratory formulas. As will be seen, each anamnesis is rich in imagery and literary depth. Each Latin anamnesis text also offers challenges to translators, as the nuance of Latin prayer sometimes must be conveyed in English paraphrase.
This series of investigations culminates in a conclusory reflection on the conflation of the transitional particles igitur and unde into “therefore” across all four eucharistic prayers. Has this translation strategy adequately conveyed the transition from memorial acclamation to anamnesis given the very different imagery used in each anaphora? Why, for example. did the authors of Eucharistic Prayers II and III choose igitur instead of the unde of the Roman Canon, even while preserving the memores meme from the Roman Canon?
Before a fuller analysis of transitional particles in the anamnesis of each of the four main eucharistic prayers of the reformed Missale Romanum, I offer an in-depth critique of the current translation of each eucharistic prayer in light of Latin semantics and syntax. A critique of the role of particles within the diverse anaphoras cannot take place without in-depth semantic and syntactic study.
This first post in the series investigates the anamnesis of the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I). The next post will investigate the anamnesis of Eucharistic Prayer II and the anamnesis of Eucharistic Prayer III. A third post will investigate the anamnesis of Eucharistic Prayer IV. The closing post will evaluate the role of the particles igitur and unde in light of the previous linguistic studies.
I have block quoted the typical Latin text and current English translation for the anamnesis of each eucharistic prayer, beginning here with the Roman Canon. I have not included eucharistic prayer translations from the Sacramentary, as these translations do not express igitur and unde.
TEXTUAL ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I)
”unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, eiusdem Christi Filii tui, Domini nostri, tam beatae passionis, necnon et ab inferis resurrectionis, sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis: offerimus praeclarae maiestati tuae de tuis donis et datis: hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, Panem sanctum vitae et Calicem salutis perpetuae.”
“Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.”
The prayer unde et memores breaks down into the following syntactical components:
(1a) “unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui […]”
This is a plural clause with a nominative plural noun servi, nominative plural pronouns nos and tui, and a nominative plural adjective memores. memores in turn modifies nos servi tui. As is common in Roman liturgy, the prayer soon introduces a singular vocative of address, Domine, “Lord”.
(1b) “[…] sed et plebs tua sancta […]”
This is a singular clause, with the nominative singular plebs modified by the nominative singular pronoun tua and the nominative singular adjective sancta. plebs, “people”, is always grammatically singular in Latin as it is an aggregate noun. Even so, plebs is always translated as plural in English. sed et, which indicates a shift to another subject construction, is an idiomatic transition best translated as “and”.
Consider the combination of (1a) and (1b) together. “ unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta […]”
A complication arises. memores cannot modify sed et plebs tua sancta, but only nos servi tui. A very literal translation of memores might read: “It follows that we your mindful servants and also your holy people […] offer […]”. This English translation confuses the role of memores by suggesting that memores might also apply to sed et plebs tua sancta. A translation in this manner would also result in the postponement of the main verb until after a description of the paschal mystery. English, which is more strongly analytic (syntax based on word order rather than word ending), cannot easily “hold” the main verb until the conclusion of more complex sub-clauses. Some paraphrasing is necessary in order to relate subject to verb more clearly.
ICEL’s translation reads,
“Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer […]”
ICEL’s paraphrase clarifies two important points which might be obscured in a more literal translation into English. ICEL wisely avoids a conflation of nos servi tui and plebs tua sancta by recasting the adjective memores as a direct object noun directly following the confected verb “we celebrate”. This translation strategy preserves the pronominal subject nos, “we”, both before and after the recalling of the paschal mystery. The double “we” also allows ICEL to move the subject “nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta”, “we, your servants and your holy people” to a place directly before the main verb offerimus, “offer”. As shall be seen, these sensible strategies contrast sharply with ICEL’s more literal and confusing translation of Eucharistic Prayer IV.
(2a) “[…]eiusdem Christi Filii tui […]”
This clause includes the genitive pronouns eiusdem and tui and two genitive nouns Christi and Filii.
(2b) “[…]tam beatae passionis,[…]”
This is a clause consisting of a transitional adverb of contrast tam (“as”, “so”, cf. LSJ sv. tam, I.A.1), the genitive noun passionis, and the genitive adjective beatae.
(2c) “[…]necnon et ab inferis resurrectionis,[…]”
This clause consists of the intermediate consequential particle necnon, the genitive singular resurrectionis, and the ablative plural prepositional phrase ab infernis. Note that while Latin uses a ablative plural prepositional phrase ab infernis, the English singular “from the dead” conveys the same point. A similar, and quite contentious, Latin plural to English singular translation question can also be found at pro multis during the consecration of the cup.
(2d) “[…]sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis:[…]”
This clause contains the final consequential article and conjunction sed et, the genitive singular noun ascensionis, the genitive singular adjective gloriosae, and the accusative plural prepositional phrase in caelos. Although in caelos is in the plural and thus literally “heavens”, the translation is most frequently singular in English. Hence ab infernis and in caelos form both literary bookends and an example of Latin’s tendency to plural eschatological states (hell, heaven) where such states would be singular in English.
“tam […] necnon […] sed et“, “as […] not only […] but also” is an example of verbal punctuation for a language which, like Greek, did not begin to use miniscule letters and punctuation until the medieval era. Consider these particles as verbal outline points designed to illustrate that the three concepts listed are not only related but also consequential. ICEL was wise not to translate these particles literally. English word order implicitly and sufficiently demonstrates a consequential relationship between these ideas.
ICEL’s translation reads,
“[…] of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, […]”
ICEL’s postponment of the genitive phrase eiusdem Christi Filii tui, Domini nostri, “ of Christ, your Son, our Lord”, is congruent with both Latin and English syntax.
(3a) “[…] praeclarae maiestati tuae[…]”
The main verb offerimus, “we offer”, is followed by a dative clause referring to God the Father, with a dative singular noun maiestati, a dative singular adjective praeclarae, and a dative singular pronoun tuae.
(3b) “[…] de tuis donis et datis […]”
Here, an ablative prepositional phrase with a plural ablative pronoun tuis is directly followed by the ablative plural nouns donis and datis. donis and datis conceptually refer to offerimus.
ICEL offers a mostly literal and reasonable translation of (3a) and (3b) given the requirements of English.
“[…] to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us […]”
“to your glorious majesty” maps directly over the Latin dative praeclarae maiestati tuae, while “from the gifts that you have given us” is a slight gloss of de tuis donis et datis. “from the gifts that you have given us”, while syntactically not related to Latin, nevertheless captures well the semantic meaning of the passivity of receiving gifts from God (donis) and God’s active bestowal of gifts (datis).
(4) “[…]hostiam [+] puram, hostiam [+] sanctam, hostiam [+] immaculatam, Panem [+] sanctum vitae et Calicem [+] salutis perpetuae.[…]” [+ my addition in brackets]
The conclusion contains a set of accusative singular noun-adjective direct objects of the verb offerimus. I have included the rubrically indicated blessings [+] of the Tridentine recension of the Roman Canon to demonstrate that the just completed sacrifice, and not the retelling of the paschal mystery, had been the focus of the unde et memores in the medieval and early modern theology of anamnesis.
Note also the internal parallelisms of Panem sanctum vitae and Calicem salutis perpetuae. At panem the accusative noun – accusative adjective triple pattern (hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam) changes to a one accusative noun – one accusative adjective – one genitive adjective pattern for the bread and an accusative noun – two genitive adjective pattern for Calicem. Perhaps this is not surprising, as the triple pattern of accusative constructions addresses the victim of the sacrifice (hostia) we offer (offerimus), and the double pattern of constructions addresses the consecrated bread and cup. The now deprecated blessings highlight this triple-double pattern.
ICEL’s translation, though quite literal, presents a interesting point which is perhaps a question of taste.
“this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.”
From the 17th century onward, English has moved entirely away from the capitalization of nouns. I suggest that the capitalization of “bread” and “chalice” in the manner of Panem and Calicem is incongruent with contemporary English usage. A consistent non-capitalization of nouns, even where capitalized in the Latin text, would not, to my knowledge, affect the orthodoxy of any Christian prayer.