Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Translation Thursday: The Halls Are Thrown Open

Welcome to this installment of New Translation Thursday.

My nose has been in the new translation of The Roman Missal for much of the past week. I am preparing for a clergy convocation in Davenport next week. The convocation is a "hands on" approach to the newly translated prayers, with lots of opportunities for those in attendance to practice praying and chanting the prayers. While sifting through the various prefaces yesterday, the Second Preface for Easter struck me as quite strong, beautiful, and inspiring:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
at all times to acclaim you, O Lord,
but in this time above all to laud you yet more gloriously,
when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
Through him the children of light rise to eternal life
and the halls of the heavenly Kingdom
are thrown open to the faithful;
for his Death is our ransom from death,
and in his rising the life of all has risen.
Therefore, overcome with paschal joy,
every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
sing together the unending hymn of your glory,
as they acclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

At first, I struggled somewhat with the phrase "the halls of the heavenly kingdom are thrown open to the faithful." I asked myself, "How does one throw open a hall? Shouldn't it be 'the doors of the heavenly kingdom are thrown open to the faithful,' or 'the gates of the hevenly kingdom are thrown open to the faithful'?" Still, after sitting with the text for some time, there is something striking in the actual wording as it appears in the preface. The halls being thrown open to the faithful captures something larger, something more grand, something more wonderful than the words "door" or "gate" might imply.

I can see so much possibility for a mystagogical homily that helps unpack the meaning of the theology expressed in this preface. For instance, wouldn't it be wonderful for a bishop, priest, or deacon to help the faithful at Mass grasp what it means to be "overcome with paschal joy"?

Let's hope that preachers will feel more and more comfortable focusing on these texts in their homilies. Perhaps the attention given to these texts will draw more people into a mode of active listening when the texts are prayed at Mass.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


David said...

This is a beautiful example of a little more richness and texture coming through in the new translation. On the other hand, having seen the discussion about how "overcome" is not a very good translation of the Latin original, my appreciation stumbles when I get to that line.

Anonymous said...

I am not a critic nor an advocate for the new translation. Time will tell with the Holy Spirit guiding us lest we all forget. My concern with this language is being able to understand it. Even if the congregation is not the one reading the prayers as will not be the case, I ask, "how are some going to understand the language, even if prayed slowly?" I consider myself educated to a certain level with some learning disabilities. How about those who do not have a college degree? I recently stumbled across an article about Fr. Pádraig McCarthy of Dublin discovering that the grade level of the current translation of the Eucharistic prayers is 9; for the new translation, grade 15 or a junior in college. I know some argue that the new translation will separate the language from everyday language and that it should because it is the liturgy. If the new translation becomes more of a distraction, then it will not be fruitful. As you mention, hopefully parishes and priests alike will use this time before and after Advent during their homilies for some mystagogy.

Anonymous said...

I came across a very positive video regarding the NTRM from Australia for youth and contemporary parishes. Quite a "lively, rock-style" mass setting called "Rivers" by Emmanuel Worship Music. Granted, these are the mass parts - we'll see where presiders take the "melody" and make it their own for their parts.

Here's the short video clip:

Here's the link to the mass parts:

Anonymous said...

Jerry, after reading your comment, I decided to try something: chant that preface to myself.

Amazingly enough, it rolled off the tongue very nicely...except at the end. I'm so used to hearing prefaces end with "...hymn of your glory" or something similar, that "as they acclaim" threw me off.

But if that's the only thing that threw me off (and I'm a layman), I think there's hope. I agree with your approach to the new translation: it's not perfect, and some of the current prayers are a lot better than the new ones (I will miss the collects for the 2nd and 33rd Sundays of Ordinary Time, the collect for the Seventh Saturday of Easter, and the post-communion prayer for Pentecost's Mass during the Day), but there is so much to learn about our faith from these translations, it's an opportunity that cannot go to waste. And for those who think the new translation is a failure before it even starts, think about the opportunity you may be missing.


Anonymous said...

Paul of the desert says If Heaven is a spiritual place as we have been taught, Who made the Halls and who will throw them open-Just a thought Also why is the term laud used neither Latin or english. Just a por old priest a refugee from the John XXIII years of hope and real change.