Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Challenging Vigil Prayer and Confused Infrequents

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings.

I spent last night pondering the texts from the upcoming Easter Vigil, snice I am the "coordinator" for the Vigil in my parish this year.

Have you taken a good long look at the first option for the collect prayer after the Exodus text?

Here it is:

Let us pray.
O God, whose ancient wonders
remain undimmed in splendor even in our day,
for what you once bestowed on a single people,
freeing them from Pharaoh’s persecution
by the power of your right hand
now you bring about as the salvation of the nations
through the waters of rebirth,
grant, we pray, that the whole world
may become children of Abraham
and inherit the dignity of Israel’s birthright.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

I have tried and tried to pray this prayer aloud, but I just can't make it work. The ideas are all there; unfortunately, the construction blocks the communication of those ideas, leaving me saddened.

Any help you could give me with this prayer would be most appreciated.

On another note, on Sunday at the parish in Detroit, I was surrounded by people who obviously had not yet attended Mass using the new translation of the Missal. There were many "And also with you's" emanating from these folks. One woman, seated directly behind me, following the "O Lord, I am not worthy . . ." leaned over to her husband and simply said, "Oh my!"

I think we all need to remember that the throngs who come to our parishes on this coming Sunday will be in need of gentle reminders about worship resources and the fact that there have been many changes in the texts we pray.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Diezba said...

Dar Jerry:

As a former Anglican who joined the Church, I have to say that one of the reasons I really like the new translation is that it evokes the construction of BCP collects so much!

I recognize this gives lots of faithful cradle Catholics like you difficulties because of 40 years of the former translation, which was based upon a very different construction notion.

At any rate, the key to parsing any of these new collects is that most Latin and English of ligatures, the colon and the semi-colon, its English cousin.

Here's my suggestion for how to pray that collect with the pauses in right places. First, the collect written out (as a paragraph, which, to my mind, makes it easier to see which ideas go together); second, a cheat-sheet with pauses.

1. O God, whose ancient wonders remain undimmed in splendor even in our day; for, what you once bestowed on a single people, freeing them from Pharoah's persecution by the power of your right hand; now, you bring about as the salvation of the nations, through the waters of rebirth: grant, we pray, that the whole world may become children of Abraham and inherit the dignity of Israel's birthright: through Christ our Lord. Amen.

2. a. Address: O God ... own day
2. b. description: for, what ... rebirth
2. c. petition: grant ... Abraham
2. c. result: inherit ... birthright

So there are the tradition components of the collect! I think parsing them out into the Collect structure really helps one understand how to read each part.

Check out the "Form" section on this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collect

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I do not see the need of mentioning the Pharoah at an Easter celebration. Next year they will probably find a way to add Constantine.. there is an old adage that might help Keep it simple stupid. You are so correct about people coming to grips with these translations for the first time!!!!!

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Thanks, Diezba. This is somewhat helpful, but it seems like an aweful lot for a celebrant to go through to prepare one of very many prayer texts for the Vigil. Couldn't a simpler, less "slavish-to-the-Latin" work just as well, capturing all of this in a construction that just prays much more easily? This is certainly a tough one!

Anonymous said...

As to the unfamiliarity with the new translation, Jerry, I'm wondering...is that church not part of a cluster with St. Josaphat, one of the strongholds of the Extra-Ordinary Form? I'm wondering if some of those folks more often worship at an Extra-Ordinary form Mass, and perhaps attended a Novus Ordo since a bishop was presiding. Perhaps the "Oh My" was one of delight? Just a guess.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Anonymous. I am not sure where you are coming from with your comment. Pharoah is obviously one of the central figures in the Exodus reading. So I am not sure what you are suggesting. And you could help us all by telling us your interpretation behind your comment "find a way to add Constantine." Thanks for following the blog and for your comment. Please comment further for all of us.

Kate S said...

Regarding the infrequent visitors...as at Christmas, there is a brief explanation of the text changes in the order of worship. Most of the dialogues are included and the music for the Mass parts is inserted in the appropriate place. This is much more detail than we give our regular people in the pews.

As to the prayers, we don't proclaim all of the Old Testament readings at the Vigil. Other than Exodus, we chose our readings this year partly by the ease of the prayers that followed! I remain thankful that I'm not the one who has to pray these each week!

Jeffrey Herbert said...


A Blessed and Holy Triduum to you!

We anticipated the visiting "infrequents" for Palm Sunday as we do almost every Sunday since we are in a tourist-heavy area! Before the Antiphon at the beginning of Mass, the Priest very discreetly urged everyone to avail themselves of the "Pew Cards" as the Mass texts have changed. He again reminded them prior to the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. The result was pretty good with only a few discernable "and also.." during Mass.

I also have a slightly off-topic question. The new
missal rubrics recommend (or at least suggest in an obvious way) that the priest intone the Gloria, and yet most of the new settings have not taken this into consideration as they generally begin with an instrumental introduction. At our Chrism Mass on Tuesday, the Bishop surprised us by intoning the Gloria in Latin (the Mass VII incipit), and it was only the quick thinking of the organist who improvised a 4 note lead-in to the refrain that saved us. Although awkward, might it be possible to indicate a suggested lead-in if the incipit is sung by the Priest? This practice is becoming more common with the promulgation of the new missal.


Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello FJH, yes St. Josaphat is clustered with Sweetest Heart of Mary and another parish. The fact that the bishop was the celebrant was not publicized; as a matter of fact the pastor's comment and activity suggested that this was a last-minute decision.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Chironimo. What a great idea. I have been in places where the bishop intones the chant for the Gloria in English, then a completely different setting is used. Maybe it would be great if someone wrote a little accompaniment to the incipit in a variety of keys, so that the organist could then segue into the particular Gloria. I would publish something like that!

Christian Cosas said...

I'm surprised no one's brought up other translations of the same text. The 2008 ICEL and 1998 ICEL strike me as much less awkward.

2008 ICEL:
O God, the splendor of your ancient wonders
remains undimmed before our eyes today,
since what you bestowed on a single people,
freeing them from Pharaoh‘s persecution
by the power of your right hand,
you now perform for the salvations of the nations
through the water of rebirth:
grant that all the people of the world
may become children of Abraham
and pass over into the dignity of Israel.
Through Christ our Lord.

1998 ICEL:
God of our ancestors,
even in these present days
the wonders of your ancient deeds shine forth:
your right hand parted the waters
and delivered a single people from the slavery of Pharaoh;
now through the waters of rebirth
you extend to every nation
deliverance from the bondage of sin.
Grant that all the peoples of the world
may become children of Abraham
and enter the inheritance promised to Israel.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is a part of me that hopes that after slogging through the clunky 2010 debacle, cooler heads will prevail in Rome and at least replace the 2010 presider's prayers with those from 2008. There is a part of me that hopes against all hope that somebody will see what a vast overreach and overreaction Liturgiam Authenticam was and at least consider using some of the beautiful language from the 1998 translation.

And there's the part of me that is resigned to cringing every time I hear a collect for the rest of my life.

AliasKate said...

Confronted with these three collects -- after months of giving it a go, trying not to be sentimental, determined to find the beauty in the new translation (and sometimes finding it, but usually after a good sweat) -- I have to say I cried reading this string. The lack of clarity in the translation is a crime. I'm tired of pretending it is anything other than that. I'm tired of those who suggest that the "Oh mys" might be expressions of delight. Shame on those who have brought about this travesty and on all of us who have presented it as anything but.

Simon Ho said...

I heard the prayer without the benefit of reading ahead as I was reading at the Vigil service.

I didn't "hear" the punctuation; meaning, I couldn't tell that the prayer proclaimed by the Bishop was one sentence of two sentences, because commas, colons, periods are not obvious (unless you make the period drag, which is poor proclaimation). So I really cannot understand why Christian would say that the 2008 text is less clunky than the approved text.

I liked how the prayer explicitly through verbal cues moved from the limited salvation of the sons of Israel through the Red Sea to the inclusive salvation of the nations through the waters of Baptism. The weakness of the 1998 text was that it would sound like 4 sentences, and while each of the "4 sentences" would be comprehensible, the links between them becomes lost and the text ends up being short-changed.

For the rest of the Mass, I chose not to pick up the missalete and just listened to the prayers fresh. There wasn't a problem with holding the ideas in the long sentences together actually - the greater problem was actually hearing each word that is being articulated.