Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Comparison: Easter Vigil Prayer

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

I volunteered at my parish to help coordinate the Easter Vigil. As I was examining the texts, I couldn't help but have a copy of The Roman Missal, Third Edition open to do a bit of comparison.

The prayer after the First Reading (Creation from Genesis) is currently:

Almighty and eternal God,
you created all things in wonderful beauty and order.
Help us now to perceive
how still more wonderful is the new creation
by which in the fullness of time
you redeemed your people
through the sacrifice of our passover, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Here's the new translation:

Almighty ever-living God,
who are wonderful in the ordering of all your works,
may those you have redeemed understand
that there exists nothing more marvelous
than the world’s creation in the beginning
except that, at the end of the ages,
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

I wonder how much wrangling over this text occurred in the translation process. Let's remember that those working to translate the Latin did so with a strict set of rules outlined in Liturgiam Authenticam. I think this might be a good example of how the following of those rules resulted in a prayer that is very difficult to pray, very difficult to comprehend, and very difficult to convey meaning. It sounds to me much more like a catechetical statement than a prayer. The current text sounds so much more poetic and inspired.

Try praying the existing prayer out loud several times. Now try the same with the newly translated text.


Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...

Once again, sadly, and I hate to keep saying it but someone has to, the MESS of a prayer that is in the forthcoming Vox Clara Missal is a completely unnecessary disaster to visit upon the Catholic people.

There was a way to translate this (admittedly) difficult Latin prayer into a perfectly faithful (to the Latin, as per Liturgiam authenticam) and yet perfectly comprehensible English text - and it WAS done - by the ICEL 2008 translators, and their translation was then approved by the bishops.

Here is the text in Latin, then in the 2008 translation:

Omnípotens sempitérne Deus,
qui es in ómnium óperum tuórum dispensatióne mirábilis,
intéllegant redémpti tui,
non fuísse excelléntius,
quod inítio factus est mundus,
quam quod in fine saeculórum
Pascha nostrum immolátus est Christus.
Qui vivit et regnat in saecula saeculórum.

ICEL 2008 version approved by the bishops:
Almighty everlasting God,
who are marvelous in ordering all your works,
let those you have redeemed
understand that still more wonderful
than the world‘s creation in the beginning
is that, at the end of the ages,
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

More complex than the current text, but certainly comprehensible - and it flows!

Who in the world inserts a tacky colloquialism like "there exists nothing more marvelous . . . except that". Just awful.

And this is what VOX CLARA has given us. And 2008 was up and running and ready to go.

Anonymous said...


Look at what they did to the preface for the Annunciation:


Anonymous said...

When I read this out loud, I have to insert a lot of pauses, even outside of the given commas, in order to make it comprehensible. It is much more difficult to grasp. I imagine sacramentaries (excuse me, missals) will be marked up with slashes all over the place.

I welcome more poetic language and am very pleased at the increased richness of imagery and metaphor that I see in the new text. But I agree that, in this case, the current text is better at that.

The Verve said...

One of the elements of the new prayer that I like (present in the 2008 version as well) is "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed." This is a quote, in the Latin at least, from 1 Cor 5:7. Of course, the 'Pascha' in 'Pascha nostrum' is the a reference to the Paschal lamb, but 'agnum' isn't in the Latin unfortunately. Also, the Communion antiphon for Easter is: "Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus, alleluia'. In my humble opinion, if music ministers were to use a setting of that Communion antiphon in English at the Vigil and Easter day, then assemblies might become more familiar with the Pauline expression and recognize it, eventually, in that Collect. This would be good, as I recently discovered that in a group of 12 Catholics doing Bible study in my parish, not one had any idea that The Paschal mystery had any intrinsic connection with Passover...

Anonymous said...

I think this would be the exception that proves the rule. In other words, most of the 2010 is pretty good. Some of it is flubbed up.

Anonymous said...

The point, FJH, is that it did not NEED to be... 2008 (the work of the Bishops and ICEL) was much better... the 10,000 changes made by Vox Clara and the Congregation did more harm than good. Butchered English... utter mistranslations of the Latin... disregard for the Church's own rules for translation (Liturgiam authenticam)... even texts that push the boundaries of orthodoxy... for no good reason.

Austin Fleming said...

"It sounds to me much more like a catechetical statement than a prayer."

Good catechetical statements would not be phrased in such a clumsy manner.

Anonymous said...

I am very frustrated with this "grab bag" approach to the criticism of the new translastion: "
now look at these 2 lnes, look at this word,but what about this phrase ? Please someone tell me that any translation of all of St. Paul's epistles are easy to read outloud and proclaim. They aren't. All of this is bringing to mind looking at George Serat's "Sunday on the Island of Jaret" too close. All you see are dots. Take a step back and look at the BIG picture. I am reading "Mystical Body Mystical Voice" at presenrt( not by this publisher). Its a great piece of work for those willing to take the time with it.

Anonymous said...


Christian Cosas said...

As long as we're posting rejected translations, here's the one from the 1998 Sacramentary:

Almighty and eternal God,
how wonderful is the work of your creation,
how wisely you establish all things in order!
Enlighten the people you have saved,
that we may perceive
the greater wonder of your new creation,
brought forth in the fullness of time,
when Christ our Passover was sacrificed,
he who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Paul said...

Oh Good Grief. The 2010 prayer is complete rubbish. There is no way I will proclaim that at any Easter Vigil I preside at. It's complete nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, FJH: compare the ICEL 2008 with the Vox Clara 2010. In almost every instance, the "flub" is with the VC version. Look at this coming Sunday's Collect. The VC version makes no sense - right off the bat in line 1. The 2008 version was perfectly comprehensible:

Collect, Fifth Sunday of Lent:
Quaesumus, Dómine Deus noster,
ut in illa caritáte,
qua Fílius tuus díligens mundum morti se trádidit,
inveniámur ipsi, te opitulánte, alácriter ambulántes.
ICEL, 2008:
We pray, Lord our God,
that by your help we may be found
eagerly walking in that same charity
with which your Son handed himself over to death
out of love for the world.
VOX CLARA, 2010:
By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God,
may we walk eagerly in that same charity
with which, out of love for the world,
your Son handed himself over to death.

The first line of the Vox Clara is incomprehensible, even if you add a comma . . . what VC wants to say is what ICEL did say in 2008 with no problem. VC also lost the Latin "inveniamur" - so much for accuracy AND comprehensible English.

Anonymous said...

Here's Preface VIII of Sundays in Ordinary Time in the ICEL 2008 version (and the Latin)

and 2008
For, when sin had scattered your children afar,
you chose to gather them again to yourself
through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit,
so that a people made one from the unity of the Trinity
might be revealed as your Church,
the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Spirit,
to the praise of your manifold wisdom.
The original Latin:
Quia filios, quos longe peccati crimen abstulerat,
per sanguinem Filii tui Spiritusque virtute,
in unum ad te denuo congregare voluisti:
ut plebs, de unitate Trinitatis adunata,
in tuae laudem sapientiae multiformis
Christi corpus templumque Spiritus nosceretur Ecclesia.

Now look at the confused jumble of clauses that Vox Clara came up with: at the beginning, it sounds like the scattering afar took place through the blood of Jesus and the Spirit's power, because that line should be line 3 not 2; the apposite images for the Church, Christ's Body and the Spirit's Temple are in the wrong position; the final verb "might be made manifest" is split up with a seven word clause! Astonishing! Here it is:

For, when your children were scattered afar by sin,
through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit,
you gathered them again to yourself,
that a people, formed as one by the unity of the Trinity,
made the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit,
might, to the praise of your manifold wisdom,
be manifest as the Church.

Anonymous said...

well my comments werent posted. I guess becaue they were in favor of the new translation. That's it for this blog.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Anonymous. I have been away from the office for one day, and did not have access to my e-mail for technical reasons. I believe I have now published your comment, assuming that you were one of the "anonymous" posters in this stream. If this is correct, please let me know. I post all comments, unless they come from phishers or contain offensive comments. Thank you for following the blog and I encourage you to continue to do so and to add your comments to the conversation.

Chironomo said...

I've done what you asked... I said this text out loud several times, and, although it is in a rather "non-conversational" syntax, I don't find it to be all that difficult to comprehend, nor that difficult to proclaim. It isn't "jibberish" or "twisted and incomprehensible"... it sounds like a translation of a Latin text, which is exactly what it is.

When I was studying Latin in school, we had to translate Latin texts almost daily as a part of our lessons. The results were very much like some of these texts. I guess all I'm saying is that they sound like translations of Latin because they ARE translations of Latin. Our Mass is in Latin. We are reading (or hearing) a translation of our Mass from Latin into English. I think we are hearing criticisms that are more about the change in paradigm of how we approach liturgy than about the actual texts themselves, and that just results in a butting of heads because the very things that make the new translation "bad" in one person's point of view are the very things that make it so m uch better than the current texts in the other person's point of view. What is being argued is the point of view....

Anonymous said...

So, April 6 anonymous, we shouldn't look too close, eh? Because if we do we will see the truth that in many places the text has been butchered by Vox Clara. What does it mean for our Church when those "in charge" of translation are skilled in neither Latin nor English... that the work of competent translators is simply set aside (and those who dare to raise questions are simply fired)... that the authority of Bishops is usurped by Vatican beaurocrats... that while Church officials demand that new rules for translation be followed they ignore those same rules...?

What happens is a further erosion of trust in ecclesial authority... the emperor has no clothes and folks are happy to keep praising his sartorial taste! ... and a lost opportunity for a deep and abiding renewal of the liturgy.

I return to what the original poster said: this disaster was completely avoidable. How terribly sad.

MBMV is a fine resource, but it does not go through the entire new Missal... it selectively uses texts to make the points it wants to make. Heavy on theory/theology, it does not address the very real problem of the way a significant number of texts have been rendered.

Oh, and if you want to compare "wholes," be fair... don't just compare 1975 and 2010 (Vox Clara)... but include 1998 and 2008... as "wholes" these latter 2 are far superior to Vox Clara's version.

Anonymous said...

Jerry, there may be merit in not allowing posters to use "anonymous" as their handle. At the least it makes it a challenge to follow some threads. Most of the blogs I follow do not allow "anonymous". FWIW.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous on April 5, 2011 2:13 PM:

I understand the distress and anxiety in the whole 2008/2010 mess. I don't disagree that much, perhaps all, of 2008 is better. But 2010 is what we are getting and it, warts and all, is vastly superior to the incumbent.

Anonymous said...

Good ol' Chironomo. Always the same tune! And now FJH adds his voice to the chorus: sure the grammar is bad (actually, guys, it's ERRONEOUS, over and over and over again - and yes, I'm in a position to have gone through the whole text), but it's what we're getting and we can't get better than this and it's better than what we have.

And, Chironomo, I know you can't bring yourself to admit this because it derails your vision of the straightforward authentic liturgy reform of the reform:

For some of us, it is NOT a rejection of the need for a new revision: it's that we waited for FORTY years for a new translation that was accurate and literate - and we had one, approved by the world's English-speaking bishops: 2008.

And the political nitwits of Vox Clara and CDW swooped in and hijacked it - and now we've got a schoolboy's translation in horrid English.


BMW said...

Anonymous: while I do agree that the grammar contained in the RM3E is atrocious, I don't see the productivity of comparing it to the superior 2008 proposed translation (yes I like it as well). We need to get over our hurt and accept the fact that we are getting a new translation (for better or for worse) and work towards helping our people better connect to the liturgy. Maybe if they have to struggle with the words they pray, they will enter into the liturgy more. (I know I'm being a bit naive, as most people probably won't notice.) What we can do as well is pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us into a new and improved translation that will better uphold the guidelines set up in LA and in the SCL and the other documents. I have recently been reminded of the fact that either Pope John or Paul would pray before going to bed and say: "God, it's your Church, I will leave it into your hands." Yes, a loose quote, but I can't control anything the magisterium does and hopefully the Holy Spirit will protect the Church from fools and will inspire the Magisterium to provide a better translation, one that is more worthy of the people of God.

Chironomo said...


What in the world is it that I'm "not admitting"? You seem to have some issues with this increasingly.

I understand that you want a good translation. That's not the issue. The issue is what you consider a "good translation" vs. what I (and many others) consider a 'good translation. I do understand that you consider the old translation to be defective, or at least "improvable"...I get that much. So you wanted a better translation, perhaps even a really good translation. You don't believe that the new translation is suitable. Others do. Who is "right"? There's no way to tell really because the criteria by which you and I evaluate a translation are so different that for this translation at least those criteria lead to two completely different evaluations.

There might be a "Holy Grail" of translations that would suit both sets of criteria... that would be nice, wouldn't it? But what we have instead is a translation that is suitable to many, and unsuitable to many others.

Now, what is it that I'm "not admitting" exactly?