Thursday, November 29, 2012


I predicted well before the start of the First Sunday of Advent last year that the new translation would be well received by the majority of rank and file Catholics. I also predicted that the only ones that would bitterly complain about it would be the clericalists in the Church which goes beyond the ordained to include academics, some of whom are the most "clericalist" in the world. Usually they whine about it because of authority issues and of course academics get all bent out of shape if their academic abilities or suggestions are called into question. Just watch "The Big Bang Theory" to learn that--art imitating life!

George Weigel pretty much sums up my sentiments when he writes, "It was just about a year ago that U.S. parishes began using the new translations of the third edition of the Roman Missal—an implementation process that seems to have gone far more smoothly than some anticipated. Wrinkles remain to be ironed out: There are precious few decent musical settings for the revised Ordinary of the Mass; the occasional celebrant (not infrequently with “S.J.” after his name) feels compelled to share his winsome personality with the congregation by ad-libbing the priestly greetings and prayers of the Mass. Some of the new texts themselves could have used another editorial rinsing, in my judgment. But in the main, the new translations are an immense improvement and seem to have been received as such."

One example of wording that I found interesting was last Sunday's Christ the King preface, which actually sounds better chanted than spoken "...the immensity of your majesty..." Is there a better way to say that in English? Or is that just fine? One could use this in a pejorative way in which to not so delicately call some one fat and in a derogatory way in the USA as it concerns "your majesty."

We learn from another survey by CARA that overall the new translation has been very well received by the majority of Catholics, even those who don't practice the faith regularly! Of course I could have told you that from my experience at St. Joseph Church, which is an eclectic group of parishioners--they've done marvelously well with the new translation and I haven't heard one complaint from an unusual source!

The most important paragraph of the CARA study is: "Catholics who attend Mass weekly are among the most likely to agree that the new translation of the Mass is a good thing. Eighty-four percent responded as such (47 percent “strongly” agree with this statement). By comparison, 63 percent of those who rarely or never attend Mass agree with this statement (only 4 percent “strongly” agree).

It shows that the majority of those who rarely or never attend Mass even think the new translation is a good thing. But if the majority of those who don't attend Mass thought it was a bad thing, should we give a flip? Folks, they don't attend Mass--they are not in full communion with the Church because of their mortal sin! If they die unrepentant, they go to hell and have the worst translation of their vernacular every day!

You can read the CARA survey results HERE.


John Nolan said...

George Weigel laments the dearth of decent musical settings of the Ordinary, and it is true that what might be called the Haagen-Dasz school of composers have merely adapted their tired repertoire to the new words, or composed new pieces in the same genre. The settings recommended by the Canadian bishops are some of the worst I have ever heard.

However, ICEL was envisioning a greater use of Latin for the familiar sung parts, and the Kyriale has a large number of Mass settings, many of which deserve to be better known. It can no longer be maintained that congregations who sing the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei do not understand what the Latin words mean.

There are also new compositions setting the English text by among others Jeff Ostrowski and Aristotle Esguerra, which are chant-based, modal and in free rhythm. They have a timeless quality and are easy for congregations to sing. Check them out on Corpus Christi Watershed. A Mass sung with such settings, using the missal chants and simple English Propers would be as good as the vernacular Mass gets.

Jonathan B said...

The transaltion is fine. It's the over-powerful parish musical directors who still hold the Mass hostage with folk and broadway-pop Mass Settings, and adult contemporary hymns that celebrate people over God, that is keeping the OF down in the dumps.

rcg said...

We beat the musical horse to death around here, but hey, it's fun! John, when the New Translation was announced I got a copy and was thinking this was step in the right direction. Our Parish had groups meeting to study it, and I thought it might be fun. The couple that hosted our little study group started each session off with passages from their COLLECTION of Haugen Mass Settings. The husband was very openly critical of the translation. He was a Methodist Convert who had converted mostly due to the Vat II changes and was openly talking about going back. The group was almost like one of those cults who were trying to figure out why a fellow traveler had left.

Henry Edwards said...

If anyone dislikes "the immensity of your majesty", then I would recommend Rex tremendae majestatis ("King of tremendous majesty").

Motivated, of course, by the great requiem sequence Dies Irae ("Day of wrath"), which is sung or recited in the Liturgy of the Hours on each ferial weekday of this last week of the Church year--the first 7 triplets for the Office of Readings hymn, the next 7 for the Morning Prayer hymn, and the last 7 for Evening Prayer.

At least, by those who pray the LOTH in Latin. Those who say it in English probably have no clue that every hour of every day has a classical Latin hymn assigned for it, since the odious ICEL folks simply omitted them when "translating" the LOTH. Thankfully, they will be restored in the new English translation of the LOTH now underway. Just like proper music would change the face of the Mass, these great hymns will change the face of the LOTH, since (IMO) the hymn for each hour of the Office sets its whole tone.