The Collect for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

by Alan Griffiths

It is difficult to see how the authorized translation of this Collect tallies with its Latin original, or indeed what sense it makes.

The Latin reads:

Deus, qui in Filii tui humilitate
iacentem mundum erexisti,
fidelibus tuis sanctam concede laetitiam,
ut, quos eripuisti a servitute pecccati,
gaudiis facias perfrui sempiternis.

A more literal translation might read:

God, who in the humiliation of your Son
raised up a fallen world,
grant your faithful a holy joy,
so that those whom you have wrested from the slavery of sin,
you will cause to enjoy eternal happiness.

The authorized translation is:

O God, who in the abasement of your Son
have raised up a fallen world,
fill your faithful with holy joy,
for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin
you bestow eternal gladness.

There are some obvious problems with the second part of this authorized text. The Latin asks that the consequence of the grace of joy (because of being rescued from slavery to sin) will be the additional grace of eternal happiness. The authorized translation changes this substantially, and makes the eternal gladness a cause, not a consequence of the rescue. It is hard to see how this translation – or rather, paraphrase – accords with the guidelines of Liturgiam authenticam.

A future revision should consider something like this. I have made a slight paraphrase of the last line to add style:

O God, who in the humiliation of your Son
raised up a fallen world,
grant to your faithful people a holy joy,
that as you have rescued them from the slavery of sin,
so you will make them enjoy the fullness
of glad rejoicing that will never end.

Lastly, on a more frivolous note (but it’s what they heard the priest say), some friends of mine remarked after Mass last Sunday that they were unaware that ‘Jesus had a basement.’

Fr. Alan Griffiths is a priest of Portsmouth Diocese, UK.

8 comments

  1. I have found that these pieces help me pray with the liturgy better each Sunday I have them. Please keep doing these regularly.

  2. Rescued from slavery to sin: shocking that the translators didn’t notice (or didn’t care about) the ambiguity of rescued from X to Y, especially in a phrase composed for hearing read aloud, and intended to be taken in at first hearing. Rescued from slavery to freedom is perfectly idiomatic, and to my mind the more frequent trajectory for a construction with this syntactic form.

  3. Mr. Griffiths,

    Thank you for these enlightening discussions – certainly, it is beneficial for all of us to examine these collects on such a detailed level. Could you please explain further your interpretation of the official text that “makes the eternal gladness a cause, not a consequence of the rescue.”? I honestly don’t see that – even in this construction, it seems to be a consequence of the rescue to me. Also, I’m not sure that many people would hear “slavery to sin” as directional. “Slavery to sin” differs from “slavery of sin” subtly in the aspect of responsibility. And finally, I can understand why the translators would choose “abasement” rather than “humiliation,” as “humiliation” has a connotation of “embarrassment” to many people, and that is not what is meant in this context. The celebrant, when reading/singing this collect, could mitigate some of the aural misinterpretation of “abasement” by properly pronouncing “the” as “thee” before a vowel, and maybe even doing a glottal stop on the vowel.
    Again, thank you for these postings – they make me pay more attention to the collects!

    1. @Doug O’Neill – comment #4:

      Sorry not to have replied sooner. I don’t look at the site that often. What I meant was that in the Latin, the sequence seems to be this:

      God has raised up a fallen world …

      we ask for holy joy

      presumably to appreciate our status as rescued from slavery …

      and to receive eternal happiness

      I think the English changes this a little, so that ASKING for eternal happiness becomes recording THAT HE HAS BESTOWED eternal happiness already, as it were.

      a.v., the Latin makes two requests, ‘fill your faithful with holy joy’ and also ‘bestow eternal happiness.’ The received English makes only one.

      I don’t know if that is any clearer, but thank you for your comment. Things like this help me in building up my reserve of adjusted and, hopefully, better translations.

      Alan Griffiths.

  4. And then 1996:
    God of power,
    who raised up a fallen world
    through the lowliness of your Son,

    grant to your faithful people a holy joy,
    so that those whom you have rescued
    from the slavery of sin,
    may delight in the happiness that never ends.

    1. @Barry Moorhead – comment #5:
      For my sins, I heard the collect three times last Sunday. But I had no thoughts of a basement. On the other hand, that 1996 translation is so beautiful, straightforward, and — ironically — seems wonderfully Roman in its almost severe clarity.

  5. I’m still laughing over thinking Jesus had a basement. That’s pretty funny.

    On a more serious note, though, I’m sure many people don’t know the word abasement, and I can’t imagine why it was chosen over humiliation. Have we really come to the point where people can no longer recognize the value of such, especially as it regards the Passion?

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