This Week’s Discussion Question: A ‘North American’ Missal Translation?

Each week this summer, a Pray Tell contributor puts up a question for discussion. Here is this week’s.

Is it time to consider a ‘North American English’ missal translation?  Should this be an entirely new translation, or revisions of previous translations combined with new interpretations?  Is there a place for ‘alternative propers’, or prayers composed in English, in this proposed missal?

Jordan Zarembo





51 responses to “This Week’s Discussion Question: A ‘North American’ Missal Translation?”

  1. Philip Endean sj Avatar
    Philip Endean sj

    I think the question of the different varieties of English is something of a red herring. The differences between good British and good North American English are not so strong as to create problems in themselves. The only point where there might be a difficulty is in the British use of the past perfect where US English often uses a preterite: ‘I have just eaten dinner–I just ate dinner’.

    My experience as an editor is that there may be some characteristic differences between bad writing on the two sides of the Atlantic. but not when we are dealing with good writing.

    What we need is a temporary indult for the 1973 Missal, and a re-establishment of something like Comme le prévoit as the norm for translation. We need to be rid of the nonsense that has been foisted on us.

    1. Fr. John Naugle Avatar
      Fr. John Naugle

      We need none of those things. The current Missal, while not perfect, has been successfully implemented and accepted by the faithful with great ease; there are no issues in this large suburban parish. Comme le prevoit was Modernist nonsense drafted by a man with bad intentions regarding abandoning concepts of the faith to accommodate “modern man.” (I’ve never met this “modern man,” but from the way liturgists speak about him I can only presume that he both has a learning disability and is morally incapable of accepting the fullness of the Gospel because it includes things that make him frown.)

      1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        CLP was a document of the Magisterium. It kept an appropriate distance from the creeping idolatry of Liturgiam Authenticam and the modernist notion of organic development.

        It’s safe to say that MR3 has been absorbed with some less enthusiasm than MR1. But it’s not about achieving some minimum standard of a popularity contest.

        I disagree that a North American MR translation is needed. As Fr Philip writes, when “dealing with good writing,” it’s not needed. The problem is that the English MR3 is not good writing. It’s a fancy vocabulary leaning away from the Germanic roots of English to some sort of Norman French derived muddle.

        As far as alternate prayers are concerned, I think we have to concede that the Roman Missal itself is part of the problem. The Latin edition is not quite substantial enough to match the Lectionary in terms of breadth.

      2. Michael Podrebarac Avatar
        Michael Podrebarac

        With all due respect, Father Naugle, it personally disturbs me that a parish priest, a shepherd of the faithful, could write with such intemperance and ignorance.

      3. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

        CLP was a document of the Magisterium. It kept an appropriate distance from the creeping idolatry of Liturgiam Authenticam and the modernist notion of organic development.

        If CLP was a document of the Magisterium, then so is LA, which is the same type of document (an instruction). If it’s wrong (as you seem to imply) to write as Fr. Naugle has done about CLP because it’s a document of the Magisterium than it is also wrong to describe LA as “creeping idolatry”.

      4. Julius Penrose Avatar
        Julius Penrose

        Well said regarding “modern man,” Fr. Naugle.

        I live in territory about as liturgically untouched by the ‘reform of the reform’ as possible, and I haven’t noticed any real-world complaints.

      5. John Kohanski Avatar
        John Kohanski

        Todd Flowerday: “It’s safe to say that MR3 has been absorbed with some less enthusiasm than MR1.”

        I would suggest that one stop to think that there was not some golden acceptance of the new rite of Mass after Vatican II because there was little grumbling. Congregations were still ‘pray, pay, and obey” Catholics and for the most part wouldn’t have dared voice disapproval over what was happening to the liturgy. Well maybe except around the dinner table. They went along with it because it was their duty, not because they liked it or disliked it. Monsignor said, “this is the Mass now” and voila!, it was Mass. Even if Monsignor didn’t like it either. Oh, and there was no internet.

      6. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        John, the various groups were pretty much lined up in favor of the new liturgy: bishops, theologians, catechists, most pastors, a whole lot of musicians.

        No doubt some people were upset with the change. If we stood pat whenever someone got upset with change, we’d likely still be worshipping nature gods around a campfire.

      7. Thomas Dalby Avatar
        Thomas Dalby


        There is one glaring omission from your list of those groups “…pretty much lined up in favour …” of MR1: the laity.

    2. Stephen Gallagher Avatar
      Stephen Gallagher

      I think that what Phillip suggests would be an excellent idea. It would bring back people who left due to the new missal. Of course, those who prefer the new translation could to attend liturgies that would use that version.

      1. Dunstan Harding Avatar
        Dunstan Harding

        Or better yet, just mark-up your own version of the MR3, delete the “magisterium” approved Pellisms, and use that it in your own parish.

    3. Graham Wilson Avatar
      Graham Wilson

      Yes we need all of these things, to be inclusive – that’s the authentic Catholic way. After all, B16 has opened the door to liturgical pluralism in a welcoming gesture to the SSPX. So let’s open it some more to welcome our brothers and sisters at the opposite end who can’t pray in the new translation’s prissy style and faux English.

      Unity of faith in liturgical diversity: pluriform translations really are an inevitable and logical outcome of the ideas in Summorum Pontificum.

  2. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    I agree with all of Philip Endean’s points.

    Good English writing has substantially converged over the past 20 years. There are bits of language that don’t easily cross the Atlantic — those attached to the US Congress or Parliament, for instance, or to cricket and baseball — but these have no place in the liturgy.

    An indult for the 1973 Missal would be a blessing; the re-establishment of a sound basis for translation such as Comme le prévoit almost unthinkably wonderful. However in light of the negative spin put on both documents in the run-up to the current translation, embracing either of these, especially the latter, would represent such a climb-down for Church officials, right up to Pope Benedict, that I cannot see it happening.

  3. Shane Maher Avatar
    Shane Maher

    I’d say “no”, this is not the time for a North American missal translation. It would be a step backward from where we are today.
    The single English language RM vision dates from the earliest incarnation of ICEL though I understand that it never developed quite that way.
    An indult for older and retired priests to use the 1973 RM in private Masses would be helpful to those clerics who find it challenging to adjust to the newer translation but would probably only foster division in religious communities and parishes.

  4. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

    I tend to agree on the non-need for a North American Missal, but Jordan also raises the question of whether different provinces — or, I suppose by extension, language group — ought to be able to compose prayers in the vernacular for use in the liturgy. We had this in the previous edition of the Missal, and for a while this looked like the wave of the future — perhaps reaching a highpoint with ICEL’s proposed alternative Eucharistic Prayer and all of the texts composed for the 98 Sacramentary. Now, not so much.

    I myself have some ambivalence:

    1) these vernacular compositions seem to breath the “spirit of the times” in a way that can be profoundly moving, but can also, with the passage of time, quickly become trite and dated (think of the examples of “brotherhood of man” theology so popular in the late 60s).

    2) If we want to speak of a “Roman Rite” then it seems to me that most of our liturgy (but what percent?) should be a translation of the Latin original.

    1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      1)If certain vernacular compositions “quickly become trite and dated”, perhaps the solution is to change them as needed rather than attempt to freeze the wording?

      2) Perhaps it is time to start discussing the possibility of a “Common Rite” (as in “held in common”) rather than “Roman Rite”.

      1. Dunstan Harding Avatar
        Dunstan Harding

        Perhaps it is time to start discussing the possibility of a “Common Rite” (as in “held in common”) rather than “Roman Rite”.
        This idea is percolating now and it will only pick up steam over time. With or without Rome’s approval.

  5. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    I think we have to concede that the Roman Missal itself is part of the problem

    I think that the problem many times is not the style of translation, but the wording of the original prayers. It is time to recall that many of these prayers are the work of a very small group of men (or even just one man?) and hardly approach the authority of Scripture!

  6. Fr. John Naugle Avatar
    Fr. John Naugle

    Todd Flowerday :

    CLP was a document of the Magisterium. It kept an appropriate distance from the creeping idolatry of Liturgiam Authenticam and the modernist notion of organic development.
    It’s safe to say that MR3 has been absorbed with some less enthusiasm than MR1. But it’s not about achieving some minimum standard of a popularity contest.

    CLP was not about doctrine, but rather matters of discipline; an exercise of the munus regendi and and not of the munus docendi. To assert that a non-teaching document has anything to do with the Magisterium… I find curious.

    To quote that awful document:

    “24. c. Sometimes the meaning of a text can no longer be understood, either because it is contrary to modern Christian ideas (as in “terrena despicere” or “ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae humiliare digneris”)…”

    “Modern” Christian ideas? Sacred Scripture very clearly commands “terrena despicere” (See 1 Jn 2:15ff “Love not the world, nor the things which are in world…”). And when did we stop wanting the enemies of our Holy Mother the Church to fail? If “modern Christian ideas” are ok with loving the world instead of desiring the triumph of Christ and His Church over it, then these modern ideas should be rejected completely.

    Finally, wasn’t it under MR1 that our pews emptied out? I’m not arguing post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I think it’s safe to say that the 70% of Catholics that can’t be bothered to go to Mass didn’t “receive” MR1 in the end.

    1. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

      I’m afraid that in order not to argue post hoc ergo propter hoc one has to do more than simply say, “I’m not arguing post hoc ergo propter hoc.”

      1. Fr. John Naugle Avatar
        Fr. John Naugle

        I did not argue causation. I disputed the claim of reception. Those not attending cannot be counted as having “received” anything. They used to be in Church. The change happened. They aren’t there anymore. It may not have caused them to leave, but it didn’t work at conveying anything convincing them to stay either.

      2. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

        Then I suppose the same could be said for Humanae Vitae.

      3. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        “I disputed the claim of reception.”

        I get that. I just don’t think it’s a logical claim on any number of fronts. The criticisms of MR3 are fairly wider: poor grammar, lack of consultation, unfaithfulness to LA, poor pastoral timing, etc..

        Concerning the issue of reception, there was a mid-70’s University of Chicago study that suggested that the most significant single event that caused an exodus of Catholics was Humanae Vitae. It found that about 1/3 of American Catholics who considered leaving were swayed to remain because of liturgical reform.

        We live in an age where it is easy to gather allies to oneself, and decline to engage seriously with those with whom we disagree. It becomes easier to pull the wool over one’s own eyes and espouse the beliefs we might want to believe.

        Personally, I lived in two parishes where liturgical reform was well-handled, 1970-1982. My experience of MR1 was a gradual awakening and careful implementation of elements such as sung psalmody and acclamations, clergy who catechized and preached on liturgical change, the challenge to improve musicianship, and the like. I realize these experiences are as subjective as clown Masses, but it supports the point that liturgical reform, where it was well and thoughtfully done, was received with widespread affirmation from the bishops on out.

      4. Shane Maher Avatar
        Shane Maher

        HV did not bring anything new when it was issued. There is little reason to presume that a believer would attend Mass regularly in June of 1968 only to stop doing so in July of the same year when it brought no visible change to the parish. The teaching it proposed was nothing new.

      5. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        Nevertheless, Catholics polled in the early 70’s said birth control teaching was the number one reason for leaving.

      6. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        Actually, Shane, there was a revolution of rising expectations preceding HV. That is, it was widely expected that there would be greater discretion given to couples with regard to the issue. This was reflected in confessional practice, where “pastoral” confessors (who had a lot of people in their confessional lines, mostly wives, according to my mother and some other older women I’ve spoken to who remember this well) were already putting that into expectation into reality. HV came as quite a shock in many quarters.

    2. Bill deHaas Avatar
      Bill deHaas

      Fr. – you are obviously young with what? a BA from CUA and an affectation for the traditionalist mass?

      You have misrepresented what Mr. Flowerday stated in using the term “Magisterium”.

      Both LA and CLP were motu proprio (so, in some way from the Magisterium as typically used and defined. Here is a little more background from an expert – “LA was not signed by the Pope. Pope John Paul gave his consent to its issuance by the CDWDS. And it was given in forma communio, the lower form of consent, rather than in forma specifica. … have heard a cardinal member of the Congregation say that the document was issued without consultation with the cardinal and bishop members of CDWDS. This is an anomaly.”

      But any MP must be evaluated within the context, times, and directions that were happening. CLP emerged from the council fathers following their concilar directive under the Paul VI’s decisions.

      You are new to PTB so you might want to review the considerable number of posts dating back a couple of years on this topic – then, with that background, you might want to restate your opinions or read Keith Pecklers last book, chapter three covers CLP and LA. In terms of your “to quote that awful document”:

      From Peter Jeffrey published in Worship:

      Money quotes: his words are eerily prophetic: “Liturgical scholars and translators are not afraid to have their work reviewed by Church authorities. What we fear is having it ‘revised’ by people who invoke Church Fathers they haven’t read, whose theories of language and culture were created ex nihilo, who cannot tell the New Vulgate from the old one.

      OR – ‘But the most worrisome thing about LA is that what it lacks in factuality it makes up with naked aggression. It speaks words of power and control rather than cooperation and consultation, much less charity. ‘

      OR – “It is particularly embarrassing that all this muscular Christianity comes to us vested and mitred in the most ignorant statement on liturgy ever issued by a modern Vatican congregation.”

      OR – “Liturgiam authenticam should be summarily withdrawn.”

      1. Fr. John Naugle Avatar
        Fr. John Naugle

        Motu Proprio? Hardly. CLP is an Instruction. From the Consilium. That’s a pretty critical distinction to miss.

        Also, if you are going to cite my academic credentials (which I choose not to), at least give me the courtesy of accuracy…

        Jonathan Robinson’s “The Mass and Modernity” is far better spent time to think clearly about the Mass…

      2. Bill deHaas Avatar

        Now you are splitting hairs – during the Vatican Council and following SC, Paul VI in 1964 gave the MP, Sacram Liturgicam, which set up Consilium. Consilium with papal approval and in conjunction with the other papal instruction, Inter Oecumenici, developed and used CLP.

        Sorry – inserted what some experts have stated about JPII’s MP, LA – (you seem to have skipped over that) – “LA was not signed by the Pope. Pope John Paul gave his consent to its issuance by the CDWDS. And it was given in forma communio, the lower form of consent, rather than in forma specifica. … have heard a cardinal member of the Congregation say that the document was issued without consultation with the cardinal and bishop members of CDWDS. This is an anomaly.”

        So, compare LA (an anomaly; lowest type of MP, not signed by JPII, and JPII at that time in ill health and questions about his actual knowledge of this MP?) done out of some small curial group (secret, not involving episcopal conferences, rejecting 1998 MR, a more than 15 year project approved by all eleven english speaking conferences) to CLP and Inter Oec….from the MP, Sacram Liturgicam, promulgating Consilium and thus, ICEL. Work had already begun before the end of the council. One was a development that came out of a council – the other was, to be polite, an inside power move directed by some in the curia seeking support through a newly created Vox Clara.

      3. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        The one thing that LA established is that . . . translation principles can be changed. And they can be changed again.

  7. Charles Culbreth Avatar
    Charles Culbreth

    Brigid, I ask in good faith and curiosity, is your liturgical solution of establishing a “Common Rite” that could displace the “Roman Rite” premised upon an ecclesial or liturgical disposition?
    I, too, reject the notion of revising MR3 to suit perceived dialects. To borrow Judge Bork’s cliche, it’s a proposal that furthers, ahem, the progress of slouching towards Babel….again.

    1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      I am unsure where my solution would fall. However, my amateur gut feeling is that many practices, teachings, beliefs etc are less Catholic than they are Roman; that they go back to the culture of the actual Roman Empire. This is not to deny the value of Roman and Greek philosophy. However, what makes this the normative source for Christian thought to the exclusion of Chinese culture, or Celtic culture, or Native American culture, etc? How much of the misogyny and homophobia that some of us see embedded in the hierarchy is Christian, and how much of it is Roman?
      If the law of prayer is the law of belief, then some of us are facing an increasing disjunction between belief and prayer. I think it is time to question whether it is proper to elevate one style of prayer above all others. Not only do we alienate those of non-Roman cultures, but we deny ourselves the insights other cultures bring.
      As a practical example, look at the debate over “and also with you” vs. ” and with your spirit”. I think we need to go to the source and ask why the Latin response is “et cum spiritu tuo” and ask if that is an appropriate response.
      Again, how many of the changes that some people found irritating came about because the translation was from the Latin version of the Greek rather than from the original Greek itself?

      1. Richard Malcolm Avatar
        Richard Malcolm

        I think Brigid is on to something.

        Too many of the concerns raised about the MR3 translation – I’ll be happy to use the shorthand here – seem to stem less from the translation (however awkward it may be in spots) than from the original Latin prayers themselves. Bryan Cones raised this point explicitly at US Catholic last year.

        Of course, changing the prayers themselves went well beyond ICEL’s writ. It’s a bigger argument to have, since the disputes ultimately seem to be rooted in different theologies – theologies that each (every?) side wants the prayers to reflect.

      2. Fr. Steve Sanchez Avatar
        Fr. Steve Sanchez

        “However, what makes this the normative source for Christian thought to the exclusion of Chinese culture, or Celtic culture, or Native American culture, etc?”

        One possible answer to your question lies in the historical development of rites in the major apostolic sees of antiquity; Rome, Antioch, Byzantium…etc. What made Rome an important see for the early Christians was it’s association with the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul; not so much it being the center of culture and commerce in the ancient Roman empire. To be sure, culture influenced it. But, its birth and eventual basic codification in the 4th century has, beyond that, the wonderful influence of the two greatest apostles. This is the great heritage of the Roman Rite. This is what makes it normative for Roman Catholics. It’s what made it normative for ancient Christians. If someone wants to create another rite that is not Roman, so be it. [Although, there is a question wither or not it’s even possible now to create a new rite that doesn’t have any association with an ancient apostolic see.] But, this continual deconstruction of the Roman Rite, using it as an experiment for modern man, has gone on to long, is disorienting to the Christian faithful and disrespectful of their venerable heritage.

      3. Bill deHaas Avatar
        Bill deHaas

        Please, Fr., your grasp of history and the early Roman Church has significant gaps in it.

        You say: “…..Apostles Peter and Paul; not so much it being the center of culture and commerce in the ancient Roman empire. To be sure, culture influenced it. But, its birth and eventual basic codification in the 4th century has, beyond that, the wonderful influence of the two greatest apostles. This is the great heritage of the Roman Rite. This is what makes it normative for Roman Catholics. It’s what made it normative for ancient Christians.”

        Really, would strongly suggest that the 4th century codification by the Empire had more to do with the *Roman* rite than anything else. Peter and Paul – fascinating?

        Deconstruction – you have never read or studied Jungmann’s The Mass of the Roman Rite. There has never been one codified mass – it has changed, grown, developed. In fact, it obviously changed from aramaic and greek to latin. Was that deconstruction by a *new modern man* – the Roman man?

      4. Brendan McInerny Avatar
        Brendan McInerny

        One possible response to your comment might be that approaching the matter primarily from the point of view of culture can give the impression that cultures are sort of self-contained units that exist side-by-side, and possessing comparable features. It is at least questionable whether culture exists in such a manner at all or whether, even if such self-enclosed bodies do exist, they each have comparable elementsto allow for ‘translation’ between cultures (i.e. is it the case that all contemporary cultures have a sufficiently similar sense of the ‘sacred’ as the ancient Romans [or Greeks, or Israelites, etc.]?
        I think the historical understanding of tradition (as espoused by Congar in Tradition and Traditions) suggests that liturgy is a particularly important monument of tradition displaying its sedimentary qualities. Layers of culture and history are fit in with each other to provide each Christian access to the deposit of faith, which simultaneously connects them with their brothers and sisters who preceded them.
        The most recent and immediate cultural layer can be included but cannot be of itself enough, it must dependent on what preceded it, and it must allow itself to be shaped by what preceded it.

  8. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
    Jordan Zarembo

    Thanks for the responses so far!

    The general lack of enthusiasm for a North American English translation pleasantly surprises me and has illustrated a flaw in my original question. I suggested a unique English translation for North America in large part because different Spanish translations exist for different countries and regions. Since I don’t read or speak Spanish, I can’t gauge the distance between written Castilian Spanish and written Mexican Spanish, for example. I agree with Fr. Philip and Jonathan that the distance between North American, British English, and perhaps other “world Englishes” is not distinct enough to warrant a separate translation. I would be interested to learn the perspective of PTB contributors who speak and worship in a language which has more than one translation in circulation.

    Deacon Fritz mentions a pitfall of original English-language compositions. While I agree that English-language compositions can become dated quickly, English compositions could prove useful if an indult or even motu proprio re-authorizing the use of the Sacramentary is ever released. While I don’t have a personal objection to a dual circulation of the 1973 and 2010 translations, I do wonder if an as-is, unmodified use of a nearly forty year old translation for the foreseeable future will result in an amplification of the Sacramentary’s more dated aspects. “Alternative” (English-composed) prayers are a way to “freshen” the Sacramentary. However, as Deacon Fritz suggests, the introduction of English compositions might draw the Sacramentary tradition away from the Latin basis of the reformed missal.

    1. Julius Penrose Avatar
      Julius Penrose

      Where could I find information about this fact of various Spanish translations? As a native Spanish speaker and reader who has however never assisted at a Spanish-language Mass, I find this somewhat odd.

      I would have never imagined the differences to be such that they should reach into the sacral language of the liturgy, and I have lived in various Spanish-speaking countries.

  9. Mark Hallinan, S.J. Avatar
    Mark Hallinan, S.J.

    I have to say that this ongoing obsession with the new Roman Missal is absurd. Is this really worth the amount of time that some of you are giving it? Don’t you have larger responsibilities and concerns to which you should be directing your attention? And no, I’m not a traditionalist – far from it. I’m a pragmatic realist serving as pastor of two parishes with far more pressing concerns than the new translation. Just deal with it.

    1. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

      Fr., I do pretty much deal with it, as to the people in my parish. But I was brought up short this past Sunday when, at a luncheon to celebrate our feast day (Corpus Christi), I found myself at a table of parishioners who, entirely unprompted by me, began to talk about how much they dislike the new translation. I was surprised by the strength of their feeling because I hadn’t heard much complaining prior to this. Apparently they consider it just one more thing to be dissatisfied with. So figuring out how best to address the issue is part of what I have to deal with in a pragmatic and realistic way.

      I should add that I manage to find time to do a number of other things as well.

    2. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      This is, after all, a blog devoted to matters of Liturgy. I am amused at how often a discussion of the Roman Missal goes off the tracks into discussions of other issues!

  10. RP Burke Avatar
    RP Burke

    I would be happy with a translation in English. Idiomatic, artistic English that fully communicates the cognitive and affective contents of the Mass.

    I am still waiting for it.

  11. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    Producing another Missal hardly seems worth the time and energy when we have no idea of what people think of the Old Missal vs. the New Missal. We are not going to ever find that out unless we are willing to use both Missals and let people vote with their feet.

    We also have put a lot of work into the 1998 Missal; it should be allowed to compete with the other two.

    Now that everyone will have had a year’s experience with the New Missal; I think we should allow the use of the Old Missal at the discretion of pastors.

    If we find that a lot of parishes are going back to the Old Missal, then we should allow the 1998 Missal into the competition, too.

    If, in the future, everyone understood that new missals would compete with older missals, perhaps the people responsible for the new missals would take time try out their material in selected dioceses before putting it on the market.

  12. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    Fritz’s comment about composing new prayers led me to wonder whether there is anything like a theory of ‘how to do things with prayers’ – of the syntactic or semantic content that a ‘good’ prayer should have in a particular situation. I am sufficiently ignorant of liturgics or liturgiology to know whether either a descriptive or prescriptive ‘grammar of prayers’ even exists.

    Such a grammar would be useful for composing new prayers, for example to acknowledge newly recognised saints, or to bless some object that the Vatican has not yet anticipated. As one example, our parish was recently given a copy of the Ordo Missae in Cantu, the Novus Ordo sacramentary in Latin, set in chant. We couldn’t find a blessing for a Missal, either in the Rituale or in the modern Book of Blessings, let alone a partial Missal like this. So we composed one, focusing on the musical aspect of it and drawing on blessings for musical instruments:

    ℣ Laudate Dominum in tympano et choro.

    ℟ Laudate eum in chordis et organo.

    ℣ Dominus vobiscum.

    ℟ Et cum spiritu tuo.


    Deus, qui per Moysen famulam tuum tubas ad canendum super sacrificiis, nomini tuo offerendis, facere praecepisti. quique per filios Israel laudem tui nominis decantari voluisti: bene ☩ dic, quaesumus, hoc librum sanctae missae cantorum, cultui tuo dedicatum; et praseta, ut fideles tui in canticis spiritualibus jubilantes in terris, ad gaudia aeterna pervenire mereantur in caelis.

    Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

    ℟ Amen.

    Et aspergatur aqua benedicta.

    I think the Latin grammar is right. But how would you know whether, as a composed prayer, this one is ‘right’?

    1. Mgr Bruce Harbert Avatar
      Mgr Bruce Harbert

      The leader in this field, so far as I am aware, is Mgr Renato de Zan, who teaches at Sant’Anselmo in Rome.

    2. Mgr Bruce Harbert Avatar
      Mgr Bruce Harbert

      With ‘famulum’ and ‘praesta’, the Latin would be perfect. Since you have used a passive infinitive in ‘decantari’, you might wish to use a parallel one – fieri – in place of ‘facere’. That would make it even better.

      1. Jonathan Day Avatar
        Jonathan Day

        Thanks, Mgr Harbert, for the pointer to Mgr de Zan — his work looks very interesting.

        Thanks also for the Latin notes. “Famulam” and “praeseta” were dumb typos that I should have caught. Mea culpa!

        What I was aiming at in the first clause was something like “O God, who through your servant Moses taught [us] to make trumpets to sound over the sacrifices offered to your name, and who desired that the praises of your name be sung by the sons of Israel …” So I think the active voice is right for facere. But then laudem (accusative) is wrong — I guess it should be laudes (nominative plural). So much for my arrogant statement that the Latin grammar was right.

        Your comment, though, illustrates the broader point I was getting at. Your wide experience with these texts gave you the structural intuition that I lacked, e.g. verbs should be parallel if possible, so that an even better version would have been something like this:

        Deus, qui per Moysen famulum tuum tubae ad canendum super sacrificiis, nomini tuo offerendis, fieri praecepisti, quique per filios Israel laudes tui nominis decantari voluisti: bene ☩ dic, quaesumus, hoc librum sanctae missae cantorum, cultui tuo dedicatum; et praesta, ut fideles tui in canticis spiritualibus jubilantes in terris, ad gaudia aeterna pervenire mereantur in caelis.

        What I’m after is a list of those precepts — rather like a Fowler’s or Strunk & White for liturgical text-making. I’m sure it exists somewhere! Perhaps Mgr de Zan’s work will help here.

      2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Mgr Bruce Harbert on June 12, 2012 – 8:57 am

        While euphonic verb parallelism is a prominent feature of the Roman collects, this literary style is not necessarily a feature of later Latin liturgical prayers. Euphonic verb parallelism might not be as important in the Roman Ritual as these prayers were composed at a later time and in a different literary vein from the missal collects. The Ritual literary style is more didactic and paratactical.

        Sometimes the Rituale Romanum exhibits a “false euphony” between a verb and a noun. Consider an exorcism for the crosses of a “stations of the cross” set. I’ve bolded the false euphonic pair.

        Bene [+] dic, Domine Jesu Christe, has Cruces, quia per Crucem sanctam tuam eripuisti mundum a potestate daemonum, et superasti passione tua suggestorem peccati , qui gaudebat in praevaricatione primi hominis per ligni vetiti sumptionem.” (my brackets, emphasis)

        “Lord Jesus Christ, bless [+] these crosses, as through your holy cross you have rescued the world from the power of evil spirits and have overcome by your passion the supplier [suggestorem] of sin, who rejoiced in the deceitful act of the first person partaking from the forbidden tree.” (my brackets, trans.)

        It is clear that superasti and peccati share no grammatical affinity. I would say that the author of this prayer did not intend for the close proximity of two similarly-sounding words.

        As an aside, suggestorem betrays the medieval or early modern composition of this prayer. The word, a nominalization of the older verb suggere (“to apply, furnish, supply”), is not found in classical lexica. The appearance of a later lexical development in this prayer also suggests that collect-style euphony might not be as intrinsic to the Ritual as it is to the missal.

  13. Brendan McInerny Avatar
    Brendan McInerny

    I too don’t think that a specifically NA missal translation is necessary.
    I also don’t think setting aside LA and re-institute CLP is a productive measure. It may work for the CLP believers, but as already indicated in these comments to say nothing of other blogs, CLP is not universally loved (of course, what is?). I also don’t think letting some use the ’73 and others the ’10 is a viable solution, even if Benedict’s MP implies that is could be done. We’ve already got the persistence of the ’62, I don’t think we need another division of the RR.
    While I think the principles of translation can be an interesting discussion, I find the arguments surrounding dynamic and formal equivalency to lead nowhere. The terms and positions are set, and one can go to their preferred blogs to have their opinions confirmed. The same could be said for the debates over comprehensible and elevated language.
    As I indicated in my post on a symposium on language in liturgy (in the archives here if you want to read it), I think a real common ground can be found in the idea of ‘sacral vernacular’. The thing that strikes me is that, to my knowledge, no one wanting comprehensible language in liturgy actually means by that using the syntax and semantics of the variety of ‘everyday’ speech. Inevitably, it would seem, different speech patterns, words, and meanings are brought in which distinguish liturgical speaking from the various kinds of speaking we do in other settings (this is of course a basic component of ritual speak in general). If that’s so, then there is a criterion being applied in common between the proponents of the new missal and those of the old. That site needs more explicit attention. (All of the same, I think, could be said in the obverse for the ‘elevated language’ crowd, so long as they wish to remain in the vernacular).
    I think that debate could be very fruitful, and help to produce the next translation, which will, with hope, be more poetic, beautiful,…

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      I’d like to see the discussion on the notion of the “sacral vernacular” widened a bit more. The neo-traditionalist/LA approach is not without significant roots in a certain rationalism. Provide an accurate formula, couched in a certain “different” language, and have faith it will somehow raise the bar.

      We can’t escape the notion that liturgy, like faith, must be “acted” out with integrity, attention, and mindfulness. The problems of the period 1970-2011 are less the texts of the rites (though, granted, poor texts hobble the fruitfulness of worship) and more the visible attitude of worship leaders, especially the clergy.

      Too often I’ve heard well-crafted homilies, well-prayed rites demolished by a priest who checks his watch during a quiet moment. Other moments of de-sacralization: public mistreatment of sacristans and acolytes, being late for Mass, not picking up a hymnal to sing. These demonstrations destroy good liturgy as surely as substituting a non-Biblical reading into the Lectionary or any other such-labelled “abuse.” They have far more impact as they reveal an obvious lack of respect for pretty much everybody, including God.

      It’s admittedly hard to legislate good behavior.

      That said, here’s to a more poetic MR4.

      MR3, in being rather obtuse in vocabulary and poor in grammar, serves to alienate texts from the assembly. Not unlike the specialized vocabulary of law or medicine. Better for the Roman Rite to hitch its wagon to the artistic aspects of human culture than to what obfuscates in various secular sub-cultures.

      1. Brendan McInerny Avatar
        Brendan McInerny

        I agree. As of right now the ‘sacral vernacular’ seems to be a term valued by the MR3 proponents. For that reason, I think its investigation by the critics would be really valuable for both parties to help themselves understand what they mean by it and where they might agree. I don’t see the last translation meeting this idea, but I don’t see the new hitting it either. There are some things I positively love about the new translation, but much, much more that I cannot fathom how anyone imagined it was beautiful English (much less understandable).

        I also agree that if one could say that liturgy has a kind of ethos, the watch-checking, the ad hoc homilies during or around the EP (my wife and I call them homiletos), or not singing with the community, break with the ethos as much as clapping after songs, or improvising the prayers (though I can’t go so far as to say they are equal to reading non-Biblical texts in the liturgy of the Word). And you’re right, the attitudes of the liturgical leaders (of whatever liturgical camp) often has a much bigger impact on the parish liturgy than the words being used. The liturgy puts a microscope on the actions of the leaders (not just the ones on display during the liturgy itself, but also the ones who chose music, etc.) and I think its easy to forget to ask “What am I communicating about this liturgy by this action?”

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