Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: A Restrospective

This is our first post-November 27th "New Translation Tuesday. Welcome.

I wanted to share a post with you today, one that I wrote over two years ago, on November 9, 2009. That Tuesday was the first "New Translation Tuesday." Here you go:

Happy Tuesday to you all. And welcome to the first (of many) installments of "New Translation Tuesday." I'll be spending time each Tuesday and Thursday offering commentary on the upcoming new English translation of the Missale Romanum.

I am doing this for a number of reasons. The first has to do with the fact that many people are wondering how publishers are handling this issue. Secondly, I am concerned about the people in the pews, so many of you who visit this blog on a regular basis. Thirdly, as always, you'll hear my own personal opinions as all of this unfolds. Those opinions will be based on my own understanding of the Church's liturgy, the reactions I hear as I travel around North America, my experience as a person in the pews myself, my experience here at WLP as an editor and publisher, and my experience as a liturgist and musician.

My plan is to create a plan for the coming months, plotting out topics that I hope you find helpful. To that end, I'd like to ask for your feedback. What would be most helpful for you to read on these pages on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Any feedback you provide would be most welcome.

I'd like to start by telling you that we at WLP have been preparing for this change in translation for approximately nine years. Shortly after I began working here in 1999 as the worship resources editor, I began to compile what I named "Roman Missal Source Files." Basically, I put together a number of electronic files of the following materials from the current Sacramentary:
Entrance Songs
Opening Prayers
Prayers Over the Gifts
Communion Songs
Prayers After Communion

My hope was that, once the new translation was approved, we could move through the current files and make simple adjustments where the translation had changed. After completing this work, I happened to mention my plan to someone closely connected with ICEL (The International Commission on English in the Liturgy). This is the group whose responsibility it has been to actually do the new translation. That person told me, "Jerry, just throw all those files away. The new translation will be markedly different; not just a few adjustments here and there." This was my first "wow" moment in the entire process. I realized then that what we are talking about here is more than a few changes here and there. And, after having seen the new translation of the Order of Mass, that "wow" has been confirmed. Just take a look here, if you haven't done so already. The USCCB's excellent web site on the Roman Missal is a great place to explore. You can find that here.

So, what I thought was going to be a very simple process has developed into a much more complicated one, from a publisher's standpoint. As you know, the US bishops will be voting next week on the completed translation, and, hopefully, sending it to Rome. Then the waiting game begins. We wait for Rome's recognitio, or really Rome's approval of the new translation. How long will this take? I've heard everywhere from one month to several years. There are texts in Rome awaiting recognitio that have languished there for many years. But, we are also told that the pope is keenly interested in having this new translation approved as quickly as possible. So, we wait and see.

I hope you can appreciate the impact that all of this has on a publisher of resources for praying and singing the liturgy. On the Tuesdays and Thursdays in the weeks and months to come, I'll share more with you. For now, let's remember that what is being re-translated from the Latin is what draws us all together in Christ.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray. And don't forget: you gotta provide some feedback and ideas focused on what you would like to see on these Tuesday and Thursday pages!

Folks, it's kind of amazing to look back from our current perspective. So interesting to see that this post was written the week before the US Bishops voted their final approval of the Missal. They spent nearly a decade discussing, arguing, wrangling, editing, substituting, crafting, re-crafting, theologizing, murmuring, and debating a text that they could finally approve as a body, which they did that following week. What happened after that remains a mystery. The so-called "10,000 changes" were made and the texts we are now praying are not the texts the bishops approved and sent to Rome for recognitio.

It has been a rocky two years, quite a ride for publishers and pew-dwellers alike. And we are just at the beginning of an era which we all hope is marked by a renewed mystagogical way of life. Hold on to your hats, folks!

Thanks for continuing to spend time with me on Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

And, as always . . .

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


jdonliturgy said...

Jerry - thank YOU for helping us all through this. As one who has followed New Translation Tuesdays and Thursdays all the way through, I found it frequently enlightening, comforting and always honest. This has been good work.

Anonymous said...

I found the greatest change to be in the Creed, from the pew perspective. Our priste doesn't chant because he says he doesn't have the singing talent. He also did not use the Roman Missal, but the W&S 2012 and 'his own' prayers (maybe from the old Missal). I wonder if, in a way, that was the best tactic... so that everything would not be new to the people but to start with the 'pew' part and later on with those of the 'priest'. I do hope he gets to buy the new Roman Missal within 2 years the latest. We have an international community and people from different countries said it now was similar to that of theirs and that the previous one had been very differnt to their own languages in their countries. So this 1st Sunday of Advent went smoother than expected :-)