Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Thirty Minute Class

Welcome to this latest edition of "New Translation Thursday."

This morning, at the request of the manager of WLP's customer care department, I gave a half-hour presentation to the members of that department on the history and rationale behind the new English translation of the Missale Romanum. As you can imagine, customer care representatives—the "front line" of any company—have to field all sorts of questions from callers. And, of course, the number of questions about the new translation are growing in frequency. So we all thought it would be great if we were all on the same page.

What would you say if given thirty minutes to explain all of this? Well, I did put together a simple handout. This is long, but I thought it would be good to share with you here.

A New Translation of the Missale Romanum (Roman Missal)
Jerry Galipeau, D. Min.

(Prepared for WLP Customer Care, 7-1-10)

Historical Sketch

1. The Missale Romanum (Roman Missal) is the large book containing the prayers of the Mass.

2. This ritual book was promulgated, or released, by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as the definitive text of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.

3. The vision of the Second Vatican Council for this reform of the liturgy is this:

This is from Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy:
14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.
In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.
III. The Reform of the Sacred Liturgy
21. In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.
In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.

4. The 1970 Latin edition of the Roman Missal was translated into various languages for people around the world.

5. The rules and guidelines used for this translation employed a principle called “dynamic equivalence.” Dynamic equivalence looks at the original Latin and translates the thoughts expressed in the Latin into an easily understood English translation.

Here’s an example:

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.

Using the principle of dynamic equivalence, this text was translated into what we know as the first line of the Gloria at Mass:

Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.

6. The English edition was published in the United States in 1973.

7. The Vatican issued a revised latin text in 1975, which was also translated into English.

8. Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition of the Roman Missal in the Jubilee Year 2000. This new edition contained prayers for newly canonized saints, additional Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, some updated and revised rubrics (instructions), and new Prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers.

9. In 2001, the Vatican congregation (or office) called the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a new instruction book, with new guidelines and rules to be used when translating the Latin original into various languages. This book is named Liturgiam Authenticam.

Here is a quote from Liturgiam Authenticam, which is the reason why we have a new translation that will sound so different from our current translation:

“While it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet.”

10. In 2007, this same Vatican Congregation issued specific guidelines for those translating the Latin into English: Ratio Translationis for the English Language.

11. ICEL (The International Commission on English in the Liturgy) is the group that is chartered (hired) by the eleven English-speaking conferences of bishops around the world to actually do the English translation from the Latin original. (United States, Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, and South Africa)

What’s new about the new translation?

1. While the Latin text remains largely the same, these new rules of translation affect what we will now be praying in English. The principle of “dynamic equivalence” has been rejected. The new principle is called “formal equivalence,” which is explained below. Here is an excerpt from the Ratio Translationis for the English Language.

The unique style of the Roman Rite should be maintained in translation.  By “style” is meant here the distinctive way in which the prayers of the Roman Rite are expressed.  The principal elements of such a style include a certain conciseness in addressing, praising and entreating God, as well as distinctive syntactical patterns, a noble tone, a variety of less complex rhetorical devices, concreteness of images, repetition, parallelism and rhythm as measured through the cursus, or ancient standards for stressing syllables of Latin words in prose or poetry. (no. 112)
The texts of the revised translation of the Roman Missal are marked by a heightened style of English speech and a grammatical structure that closely follows the Latin text.  In addition, many biblical and poetic images, such as “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” (Communion Rite) and “…from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Eucharistic Prayer III) have been restored.

2. Here is one example:

First Sunday of Advent
Latin Original
Daquaesumusomnipotens Deus,
hanc tuis fidelibus voluntatem,
utChristo tuo venienti iustis operibus occurrentes,
eius dexterae sociati,
regnum mereantur possidere caeleste.
Per Dominum.

1975 ICEL
All-powerful God,
increase our strength of will for doing good
that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven,
where he lives and reigns…

2010 Final Version
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through our Lord. 

3. Here’s another example, using the Gloria that we cited above:

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.

Using the principle of dynamic equivalence, this text was translated into what we know as the first line of the Gloria at Mass:

Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.

Using the principle of formal equivalence, this is the new text of the Gloria at Mass:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.

4. A very helpful place to go, and to tell customers about is the US Bishops’ web site on the Roman Missal:

The "Why"

Three paragraphs from Liturgiam Authenticam give us the answer to the "Why" question:

Liturgiam Authenticam
Here is the official answer to the “Why did this all have to change” question.

3. The liturgical renewal thus far has seen positive results, achieved through the labor and the skill of many, but in particular of the Bishops, to whose care and zeal this great and difficult charge is entrusted.  Even so, the greatest prudence and attention is required in the preparation of liturgical books marked by sound doctrine, which are exact in wording, free from all ideological influence, and otherwise endowed with those qualities by which the sacred mysteries of salvation and the indefectible faith of the Church are efficaciously transmitted by means of human language to prayer, and worthy worship is offered to God the Most High.

6. Ever since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the work of the translation of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages, as promoted by the Apostolic See, has involved the publication of norms and the communication to the Bishops of advice on the matter. Nevertheless, it has been noted that translations of liturgical texts in various localities stand in need of improvement through correction or through a new draft. The omissions or errors which affect certain existing vernacular translations – especially in the case of certain languages – have impeded the progress of the inculturation that actually should have taken place. Consequently, the Church has been prevented from laying the foundation for a fuller, healthier and more authentic renewal.
7. For these reasons, it now seems necessary to set forth anew, and in light of the maturing of experience, the principles of translation to be followed in future translations – whether they be entirely new undertakings or emendations of texts already in use – and to specify more clearly certain norms that have already been published, taking into account a number of questions and circumstances that have arisen in our own day. In order to take full advantage of the experience gained since the Council, it seems useful to express these norms from time to time in terms of tendencies that have been evident in past translations, but which are to be avoided in future ones. In fact, it seems necessary to consider anew the true notion of liturgical translation in order that the translations of the Sacred Liturgy into the vernacular languages may stand secure as the authentic voice of the Church of God. This Instruction therefore envisions and seeks to prepare for a new era of liturgical renewal, which is consonant with the qualities and the traditions of the particular Churches, but which safeguards also the faith and the unity of the whole Church of God.

Our superb customer service representatives were appreciative of the presentation and were able to begin to articulate the rationale and history pretty well right away. They did reveal one story about a person who called to return WLP's recording of Bishop J. Peter Sartain praying the four newly translated Eucharistic Prayers. That person was returning the resource because her pastor "had decided that he was "not going to use the new translation when it came out." I think we're gonna need to fasten our seat belts a little tighter.

So, readers of gotta sing gotta pray, what do you think?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Luke said...

While I have serious doubts about the new translation (as you and your readers know), particularly in terms of whether it will help or hurt the prayer lives of the people, I must say, Jerry, that your presentation appears to have offered an excellent summary of the reasons behind Rome's desire for a new translation. Good job!

That comment by the woman who was returning the recording of the retranslated Eucharistic Prayers exemplifies the sentiment you expressed in your post on Tuesday. I was going to comment on it but did not have time.

The Church has lost serious credibility with many, from the laity to the clergy, and this is only fostering a sense of independence (as you said, congregationalism) among a growing number of parishes/priests. Instead of complaining to their bishop, some priests--like the pastor of the woman you mentioned--might feel compelled to take matters into their own hands. Perhaps this is because they fear that even if the new translation does do some harm to the People of God by causing more discontent and confusion, some bishops will fail to respond to the situation sensitively and pastorally. Perhaps they also feel that the Church should focus its attention more on its present situation instead of adding another layer of complexity by proceeding full-steam ahead with a substantial change in the prayer life of many faithful at the same time.

I also agree with your prior comment that John Paul II had a lot to do with creating the situation in which we now find ourselves, for better or worse.

It will be very interesting to see how the implementation will pan out, to say the least.

Chironomo said...

A good presentation, even if brief!
I have to put together a similar presentation this Fall so I may take a more in depth look at what you have here before getting started.

Luke... what is the worry about the "prayer life of the people"? Do you really think that when people go to Adoration and kneel in silent prayer that they're going to be using the Mass texts? Sure, there may be some awkwardness and stumbling for a few months of Sundays, but really... do you think that people will just be unable to recognize the words and give up or something? I think it's a straw man the size of the Statue of Liberty to argue that the new translation will weaken people's faith. I don't think that Mass TEXTS really have too much to do with people's faith, or the prayer life that grows from it.

Again...I would challenge you (although I have no idea how old you are).... Could you, right now without looking, explain in detail the theological concepts expressed in Eucharistic Prayers I, II and II...each of which you have surely heard many, many times? Do the words that you hear each Sunday really convey the meaning of those concepts, or do they have some other purpose?

I'm not being flippant, but it would be a good thing to know before arguing that the new translation will somehow keep you from understanding something that you either don't understand already after 38 years of repetition, or which you already understand. Immediate comprehension is a very high bar to put in place as a test for suitability of liturgical texts. If you need an example, read the Psalms...