Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Birmingham and a Much-improved Prayer

A cold and raw "New Translation Tuesday" has dawned here in Chicago. Welcome to this installment.

Tomorrow I will be leaving for the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, to spend two days at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, pictured here:

Approximately seventy people will attend a two day session on the implementation of the new translation of The Roman Missal. At first, diocesan leaders thought that perhaps 25-30 people would attend, but apparently, there is much interest. I will be giving five presentations, organized in this way:

Session One: Getting to the Heart of the Celebration of Mass
Session Two: The History of the New Translation
Session Three: Examining the Changes in the Order of Mass and the Challenges for Assemblies and Celebrants
Session Four: Singing the New Translation
Session Five: The Pastoral Landscape and Developing Pastoral Strategies

I am introducing a new method during these presentations. I will be asking the people (the majority are non-clergy) to take a look at some of the presidential prayers and practice proclaiming them. I want them to get a feel for the kind of work that their bishop and priests will need to accomplish as they prepare to pray the new texts.

While doing some research with some of the various "leaked" texts, I came across the prayer after communion for the First Sunday of Lent. Here is our current version:

you increase our faith and hope,
you deepen our love in this communion.
Help us to live by your words
and to seek Christ, our bread of life,
who is Lord for ever and ever.

Here is the new text (as proposed in the "leak"):

Renewed now with heavenly bread
that nourishes faith, inspires hope,
and deepens charity,
we pray, O Lord,
that we may learn to hunger for Christ,
the true and living Bread
and strive to live by every word
which comes to us from your mouth.
Through Christ our Lord.

In my opinion, this is at least one example of a much improved text. Stop for a moment and pray this prayer again, perhaps aloud. I find the rhythm of the third and fourth lines to be natural and easily prayed. Sure, this is one long prayer, in one long sentence, but with the appropriate pauses, it is quite beautiful. And look at what has been recaptured in the last few lines. Here we find the direct reference to the dialogue between satan and Christ that marks the Gospels for the first Sunday of Lent. Truly a fine prayer.

I am greatly looking forward to the time with the people of the Diocese of Birmingham. It's one thing to have an hour and a half for a presentation; it's quite another to move through a process with a large group of people over a period of a few days. I always learn many things from these experiences. Please say a prayer for the people of Birmingham, who will be attending this session.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Luke said...

For comparison, here is the same prayer according to the tabled 1997-98 revision:

Lord, you have renewed us with the heavenly bread that enlivens our faith, inspires our hope, and strengthens our charity. Teach us to hunger for Christ, the true and living bread, and to live by every word that proceeds from your mouth.

We ask this...

Just as fine a prayer as the revision you quoted, in my opinion. Both are marked improvements over the current form.

Good luck with the presentations Jerry.

Anonymous said...

And yet had the hatchet men left it alone in its 2008 form, we would have had this even nicer text:

Refreshed with the Bread of heaven,
by which faith is nourished, hope raised up,
and charity strengthened,
we pray, O Lord,
that we may learn to hunger for him
who is the true and living Bread
and have strength to live by every word
that comes from your mouth.
Through Christ our Lord.

Closer to the Latin, more rhythmically composed.
Why did he/they change what the bishops had approved?
What possible improvement did that "revision" accomplish?

Simon Ho said...

Is it just me or does the revision in this case seem to take a leaf from the "1998" version?