Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mass in English... last!

After years of having poor translations and often bleak, ugly phrasing, we are going to get something that might be in real English. The Holy Father has approved the new English texts and in due course - and with, we can assume, due muddles and controversies - they will be in use in our parishes.

Cue for a barrage from (a) those who don't want any improvement that might emphasise the grandeur and glory of the Mass and (b) the school of thought that says that any new English text is irrelevant, tee hee, who cares about the Ordinary Form of the Mass anyway?

Actually, having the Mass in better English will be a massive help in ensuring beautiful worship. Papa Benedict has given us a vision that is worthwhile: the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass, a sense of continuity, an emphasis on God.

We need a focus on liturgy as worship. It is God that matters here. The introductory rites, with the Confiteor, draw us, hesitantly, into the presence of God and in due course we have the exultant singing of the Gloria before there is, as it were, a drawing back as the Scriptures are read, and then the priest's movement towards the altar and the Offertory and the drama as the "Holy,holy,holy..." begins the awesome build-up to the Consecration. All of this, in Latin or in English, in 1962 form or in a newer form, is something that should all be expressed in beauty.

There will be muddles and mumbles and mess as the new texts are introduced. People will say what is already familiar, and then hesitate and get confused and it will all sound ghastly. It will seem as though the whole thing isn't worthwhile. And those of us who rather like the Latin tend also be be among those who have also been pleading for better English, and we'll be in anguish as people will say "Oh, why do we need any changes anyway?" But it will work out well. The new texts will eventually become familiar, and while they are still taking root the more authentic doctrine they express will gradually become familiar too.


UKViewer said...

As someone brought up with the Latin Mass, I found it useful living and working in Europe. The new Mass in the Vernacular after Vatican 2 we OK, but I am unsure of to what extent they need to change.

In the Church of England, the move from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) to The Alternative Service Book and now Common Worship (CW) has its detractors, but BCP and CW exist side by side and offers choice for people to worship in both formats.

I love both and celebrate the options both provide - so perhaps in the RC Church, there might now be three options, Latin, Vernacular and New Texts (it would be a good idea to give them a suitable name I think.) Surely this will give people more choice?

I have read criticism elsewhere about these new texts - is it justified or is it just resistance?

Patricius said...

My understanding of the new translation is not that it is about "better English" but, rather, about a more accurate translation of the Latin and one which articulates the scriptural resonances inherent in the original Latin. In other words there is nothing wrong with the English of the translation currently in use AS English. Its weaknesses are weaknesses of translation. In fact I have seen some instances of the new translation which are less than melifluous as English but arguably more faithful to the Latin original.

Rich Leonardi said...

Cue for a barrage from (a) those who don't want any improvement that might emphasise the grandeur and glory of the Mass and (b) the school of thought that says that any new English text is irrelevant, tee hee, who cares about the Ordinary Form of the Mass anyway?

The difference is that the latter are a cranky minority and the former dominate chancery and parish offices. At least that's the way it is in the States.

Manny said...

This is very interesting. I'm always looking for improvements but what exactly is not properly translated? I guess i will just have to see. I may be one of the odd Catholics, but i prefer the English over the Latin. I can't help but think that Christ wanted to reach people face to face, and that implies direct simple language, not something clouded in obscurity.

UKViewer said...

I see that the USA House of Bishops have got resources on their website on this topic.

Interesting reading - so what happens to the millions of Missal's purchased by individuals over the years - fit for the bin presumably.

Still if this is faithfulness to translation from the Latin, I suppose it will be accepted.

Thank God for Common Worship and the Book of Common Prayer.

marguerita said...

I feel quite excited about the changes if it -'improves reverence and a sense of sacredness' after all isn't that what our worship is all about, and I also agree with one of the other comments in that I much prefer the mass in english

Lisa Nicholas, Ph. D. said...

A few years ago, I went through the exercise of translating the Latin (Novus Ordo) propers into English, then comparing them to the "translations" served up by ICEL -- I became really incensed at the obvious agenda that the translators had had to remove any references to human humility in approaching God or to refer to God as anything other than a "loving Father." I look forward to the new translation letting English-speaking Catholics actually participate in the liturgy that the Church intends, rather than the sorry mess that we've been stuck with for the last 40 years. I hope it will renew our sense of God's power, majesty, and graciousness, as well as our own need to approach him with humility, rather than with an arrogant sense of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

It's not "better English" at all but a more literal translation of the Latin.