Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."
On Sunday our parish held a town hall meeting between the two Sunday morning Masses. The pastor led the presentation and discussion on the new translation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition. I was disappointed in the turnout, maybe 100 people, but I guess in a parish of just about 250 people, this was a good turnout. Father was well prepared and used a Powerpoint presentation to help make his points. He wove in some Benedictine history and amusing anecdotes (He is a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey). We practiced the various responses and he asked us to do so with vigor. People asked questions about the new words in the Nicene Creed, words like "consubstantial" and "incarnate" and "I."
I thought the morning went well. I am proud of the way my parish has approached the preparatory catechesis. Now we will see how all this shakes out when November 27 arrives.
On Sunday afternoon and evening, I gave repeated presentations at Our Lady of the Ridge Parish (which interestingly enough is in Chicago Ridge, Illinois and is on Ridgeland Avenue!). Great turnout for the afternoon session, less so for the evening session (the Chicago Bears were playing).
The talks went well and people were very attentive. John Black, the parish's fine music director, asked me to lead the people assembled in the singing of the new acclamations, which the parish will begin singing this coming weekend. John had chosen WLP's Mass of Wisdom by Steven Janco as the first set of acclamations the parish will sing. At the afternoon session, several members of the parish choir were present, so they came forward and helped us all with the melody of the Gloria. Later we sang the Holy, Memorial Acclamation 3, and the Amen. Janco's Mass setting uses similar harmonic and melodic structures throughout, so people catch on quite easily. It is intuitive and interesting. Steve ends the Holy and the Memorial Acclamations on the "fifth" of the scale, which means that when you arrive at the last note, there is a sense of wanting to sing more. Steve did this because he felt strongly that these acclamations are placed in locations where there is indeed something more that follows, something to which the assembly should be anticipating: the unfolding Eucharistic Prayer. Finally, on the Great Amen, the final note is on the "one" of the scale, creating a sense of finality, a sense that the prayer is now completed. It is a wonderful musical device that supports the movement of the Eucharistic Prayer. Bravo Steve. Listen to the clips of these acclamations again by clicking on the links provided above to see what I mean.
One thing that my pastor said on Sunday was interesting. From his perspective, he has come to a conclusion about the style of English in the new translation. He told us that he feels that the current translation is geared for a second grade reading and comprehension level. He then told us that the new translation is geared more to the reading and comprehension level of someone in their senior year of high school or the first or second year of college. I hadn't thought about it in these terms and I am not sure that I agree. What I do agree with, however, is that the new translation is certainly not in a style common to everyday English speech and conversation. This new "sacral vernacular" certainly introduces a new and more complicated style of speaking and praying. After hearing my pastor, I wondered if there will be scores of people (whose reading and comprehension levels are not well developed) who will be unable to comprehend the meaning of the prayers. If this is the case, we've got a problem. What do you think? Here's an example of what I mean.
Here's the original Latin for the Collect for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Deus, cuius providentia in sui dispositione non fállitur,te súpplices exorámus,ut nóxis cuncta submóveas,
et ómnia nobis profutúra concedes.
Here's the current translation. Three simple sentences:
Father, your love never fails.
Hear our call.
Keep us from danger and provide for all our needs.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
And here's the new translation:
O God, whose providence never fails in its design,
keep from us, we humbly beseech you,
all that might harm us and grant all that works for our good.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
I really do think that Catholics will need some catechesis on this newly translated text, in order to grasp fully its meaning. Someone said to me, "I thought providence was the capitol of Rhode Island!" The current translation is a beautiful and simple prayer, but it simply does not fully capture the meaning of the original Latin text. The new one does; but is it too much to grasp when we hear it at Sunday Mass?
Ah, these are the questions that we will be faced with as we begin the implementation of the new translation. I, for one, am ready to sink my teeth into more active listening. I am also excited, and not a little apprehensive about hearing and reading about peoples' reactions to the prayers, clergy and faithful alike.
Thanks for listening to this long post today. As always, feel free to comment by hitting the comments tab below.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.