Friday, January 28, 2011

Catholic Identity and the New Translation

Those who have been reading for the last couple months will be familiar with my “New Translation Monday” column. Well, it seems that this week is turning into “New Translation Week.” The last four posts have dealt directly with the upcoming changes to the Roman Missal, and this will make five.
It is well known now that the entire Missal is available at Wikispooks. Of course, the Ordinary has been available for some time, but there have been rumors, versions, and rumors of versions about what the Proper texts will look like in the end. It seems that we now know. (Thought I have to admit, in this day and age of the internet, it would not at all surprise me to find out that this is not the “final final” text, and that last minute changes will be made before it is sent off to the publisher ... I will, however, give the reports the benefit of the doubt for now, reports that claim this is the version that has been sent to the publishers. It certainly appears to be.)
Being the geek that I am, I couldn’t help be download all the files and begin looking through several of the Collects. Merely because of its place in the liturgical year, and therefore in the Missal itself, I began looking through the Advent Collects. (As a side note, in the new translation they are actually referred to as “Collects” rather than “Opening Prayers.” In previous posts on why vocabulary matters I went into why the term “Opening Prayer” is not appropriate. In short, the prayer is a “closing” of the Introductory Rites; it “collects” the this portion of the Mass into a single prayer. Similar occurrences are found at other points during the Mass.)
As I glanced at the Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, I nearly fell off my chair. Before giving you the new text, let’s take a gander at what we heard this past year:

fill our hearts with your love,
and as you revealed to us by an angel
the coming of your Son as man,
so lead us through his suffering and death
to the glory of his resurrection,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Now, we could go through the Latin and point out the deficiencies in this translation, but there is something larger at stake here. To see it, let’s look at the Latin, but more importantly the new translation. The Latin text reads,

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus Domine,
mentibus nostris infunde,
ut qui, Angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.

Some people may already see the connection I am hinting at. For the rest of us, myself included, reading the new translation brought the whole thing to light:

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Angelus (1857–59) by Jean-Fran├žois Millet
The above is the familiar prayer from the close of the Angelus. The Angelus is the prayer of the Incarnation that has been recited by Catholics throughout the centuries three times daily: 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm. The prayer itself goes back at least 700 years, but probably even to the eleventh century or earlier. In times past, it was one of the most familiar and celebrated prayers in our Catholic heritage, and as such it provided a distinctive mark of Catholic identity. A priest friend of mine has often recalled the story of his family’s restaurant/bar on the east side of Columbus. Growing up, every day when the noontime bells rang out from the Catholic Church across the street, everyone in the bar dropped what they were doing and said the Angelus. Even those who were not Catholic sat in silence during the recitation of the prayer because they know if they didn’t, they would not be served. This story is an illustration of Catholic identity. If the same bells were to ring today, how many Catholics would know why, let alone be able to rattle off the words to the Angelus?
Having the Collect from the last Sunday of Advent taken from this timeless prayer is important for establishing the link between the ritual liturgy and the lived liturgy. In the spirit of lex orandi, lex credendi, if congregations were to hear the Angelus Collect in the context of Mass, those familiar with it would be immediately placed in the presence of the three-times-daily ritual. Conversely, if the Collect were to be used, more people would become familiar with the Angelus prayer itself.
Unfortunately, until now, the prayer has been disguised beneath a mistranslation. I am someone who is very familiar with the Angelus, yet I never realized that the Advent Collect was one and the same. Of course, there are others who have. It only took a quick Google search to turn up and article from Fr. Zuhlsdorf written in 2004 (and reprinted in 2006) on precisely this issue.
I am not one to debate these chicken-and-egg questions. Has the mistranslation led to an abandonment of the Angelus, or was the Angelus abandoned long before, and therefore the “retranslating” of the traditional words for the purpose of the Mass Collect was not seen as such a big deal? Quite frankly, it is probably both. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the loss of the Angelus is both a symptom and a cause of the loss of Catholic identity, and recovering the translation in the Roman Missal can go a long way towards the process of its restoration. At the very least, it provides an impetus for a stellar homily. (Imagine, actually, if the priest on this Sunday were to give a homily that begins with the Angelus and ends with an explanation of the term “consubstantial.”)
Let’s put it this way. When I read the words for the corrected translation of the Collect from the First Sunday of Advent, my eyes “perked” up from line one: “Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord...” Imagine how much more will my ears do the same when, blessed be God, they hear the glorious recitation of this prayer on December 18, 2011. Who knows, maybe they’ll even hear the ever faint echo of the Angelus bells accompanying the text.
Posted By Jake Tawney at 3:00 PM
Labels: Liturgy, New Translation of the Roman Missal


B. said...


I have to admit that I have a hard time understanding exactly what your comment is responding to. On the one hand, this post was not about local traditions but the expression of the universal Catholic faith as the common link between the holy Mass and in the devotional life by which the Liturgy is extended through life.

On the other hand, perhaps you were responding to Mr. A. Layne. In any case, I think that the substance of your comment is correct: the universal Church is both ontologically and existentially prior to the particular Church, as J. Cardinal Ratzinger rather conclusively demonstrated in his article, "The Local Church and the Universal Church: A Response to Walter Kasper" (America, Nov. 19, 2001). This of course was already a defense of the official CDF document "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church as Communio" (May 1992). So, in this much, I think you raise a very good point.

On the other hand, the universal Church is "made flesh" so to speak in the particular Churches spread throughout the world. Thus, while there will certainly be local traditions that authentically express the nature of the Church (an authentic kind of inculturation), these traditions should grow organically from the great Tradition of the Church. I recommend that you read carefully the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation (Dei Verbum), particularly nn. 7-10. I think you will find that Tradition, which is one of the two means by which the fulness of Revelation is transmitted to all the Faithful of all time, is not opposed to Jesus (as you seem to suggest), but is rather the working out of what Christ our Lord promised (Jn 16:12), namely, that the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) would continue to guide the Church into understanding the fulness of what He did and taught. Thus, Tradition itself is guided and developed by the Holy Spirit. Local traditions, then (which is already a rather ambiguous term), must be consonant with both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture since the local/particular Church is an expression of the one-subject, universal Church. There does exist, then, an objective measure of local "expressions" as you term them.

Finally, specifically on the point where you say, "The Church has the power to change the form of the Mass." I can agree that this is true, but not as unqualifiedly as you put it forth. The Church certainly does have the power, given by Christ, to be guided by the Holy Spirit in regulated the outward expression of the sacred Liturgy. However, as Ratzinger has also said, this power is not absolute and certainly cannot be exercised arbitrarily. In fact, the Church is a servant of the Liturgy because she lives from it and expresses the truth of her being in it (see JP2, Ecclesia de Ecuharistia). Thus, any change and development should grow organically from what was before. In the recent past, this has not always happened. Cardinal Ratzinger observed in the Preface he wrote to Msgr. Klaus Gamber's book, "The Reform of the Roman Liturgy" that the 1970/1MR does not seem to be an expression of the organic growth of the Liturgy. Thus, not every exercise of the Church's power is authentic simply because those who have the power do it. This is a very complex topic but I invite you to consider these things.

Nick, thank you for your thoughtful engagement and, as you suggest, let us keep our eyes fixed on Christ, Who shows us His face only in and through the Church, His Bride and Body.

January 27, 2011 9:56 AM

And with Your Spirit

Posted by Jeffrey Tucker

For me personally, the least controversial aspect of the new translation is the restoration of "And with your spirit" as opposed to the street-talkin' "And also with you." In fact, I was disappointed that we are not to say, "and with thy spirit" because this is the phrase one hears most commonly in literature and legend. In any case, the transliteration of the Latin is most welcome.

But does it make sense? This is the question that got us in such trouble in the first place, for it implies a kind of liturgical rationalism and a mandate to come to understand and thereby approve -- construct -- every aspect of the liturgy. The rationalist project requires that we throw out as ancient cruft all that strikes us as odd and only retain that which makes sense to us in our generation. Here we have a serious problem because the liturgy itself is larger than one generation. It stretches back into a history the details of which grow foggier the early we go. More than that, there is an element of the divine at work in the development of liturgy, and this means that ultimately it might include words, rubrics, and even music that is beyond human comprehension. This is why a good rule is: defer to tradition. Changing things risks doing violence to a divine thing.

In any case, and understandably, people do want an explanation for the modern move to "and with your spirit," and Fr. Austin J. Milner has provided a beautiful one today. The phrase is an ancient greeting, unique to Christianity, and intended to underscore our conviction that the spirit of God exists in every human person. This is certainly in contrast to the belief in the ancient world, which lacked this kind of mystical universalism at its ethical core.

This is such a beautiful explanation, one that helps underscore ideas that we too often take for granted: the dignity of the human person, the universality of human rights, the breath of God as the source of rationality, and much more. All of these were the great contributions that Christianity made to the world. I'm happy to read this explanation so that I can say these words with greater appreciation - and this is precisely the best use of these kind of studies, not to call into question a tradition but to shed light on its meaning and implications.

This article should certainly be shared with all Catholics.

By the way, this was apparently Fr. Milner's last article that he wrote before he

Tu es Petrus

Anonymous said...

Well, it's a fine music and maybe was a 'pastoral' decision for the occasion. To me it's rather too dramatic (or theatrical). Remind me of big old movies, like Quo Vadis? Sort of music that accompanies the Roman emperor entering a theatre. I would have appreciated a bit humble, but dignified and quiet music.
January 28, 2011 4:54 AM

Keith Fraser said...

What you get is the awe and the majesty befitting the man commissioned by Christ to lead his church, majesty passed to his successors. The awe, the terror of that commission, juxtaposed by the quiet, polyphonic resolution of the piece just after the timpnoy and before it went to the Introit, Dignus est Agnus.

I thought it was amazing.
January 28, 2011 4:59 AM

Anonymous said...

Although drastic shift of the fine music can be amazing, I have a reservation for too much of dramatic contrast for the music in Mass. I think this has to be done carefully so not to be overdone.
The spiritual experience of Gregorian chant is very sublime with the subtle beauty that avoids the extreme of emotional turmoil by its nature of hiring musical concepts that avoid extreme range, volume, tempo..., so the emotion and feelings are moved naturally, not as if forced by external elements, which can be appropriate and needed in other places.

By the way I'm a fan of all your postings. I guess just this one I have a bit of disagreement. Thank you for all your work.
January 28, 2011 7:14 AM

Dad29 said...

The awe, the terror of that commission, juxtaposed by the quiet, polyphonic resolution of the piece

Precisely what I heard! "You will suffer" at the beginning, "unsettled" music illustrating 'the gates of Hell', and a gentle, loving, "I will give you the keys"--as if to say "I will love and support you" at the end.

Marvelous stuff.
January 28, 2011 11:10 AM

The "Easy" Life of Lay Clerk (Musically speaking)

Sacred Notation, Sacred Music

Score and audio

a brief talk on the history of Solfege

This is interesiting and beautiful singing in good accustics

With Scott T (I'm there somewhere with some schola members.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Schola: February Calendar

Saturday Mass (8:15AM) (Warm - up at 7:40)

Feb.5, 19

Kyrie XVII
Gospel Accl.
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Manducaverunt (Feb.5)
Gustate et Videte (Feb.19)
Ave Regina Caelorum

At Resurrection Church
Satruday Mass (9AM) (Warm-up starts at 8:30)
Feb. 12, 26

Kyrie XVII
Gospel Accl.
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Manducaverunt (Feb.12)
Gustate et Videte (Feb.26)
Ave Regina Caelorum

At St. Martin's (Little Sisters of the Poor)
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb.20, Sunday, 10:30 (warm-up at 10AM)

Introit (Entrance Proper) : schola
Lord, your mercy is my hope, my heart rejoices in your saving power.
I will sing to the Lord for his goodness to me.

Kyrie (857)

Gloria (858)

Responsorial Psalm:
The Lord is kind and merciful.

Gospel Acclamation:
Whoever keeps the word of Christ,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

Offertory Proper (schola)

Sanctus (859)

Mysterium Fidei (priest)

Mortem tuam annuntiamus Domine,
et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias

(We proclaim Thy death, O Lord,
and we confess Thy resurrection, until Thou comest.)

Doxology: Amen

Agnus Dei (862)

Communion Proper: (schola)
I will tell all your marvelous works.
I will rejoice and be glad in you,
and sing to your name, Most High.

Communion Hymn:

Recessional Hymn: Salve Regina (702)

Children's Schola
(classes at St. Paul on Monday & at St. Michael's Academy on Thursday)

First Friday Mass, FEb.4
8:15 AM (warm up starts at 7:45 AM)

Ave Maria(prelude)
Kyrie XVI
Gospel Accl.
Veni Creator Spiritus (offertory)
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Anima Christi(communion)

At St. Alphonsus
2nd Thursday Mass, Feb. 10
11 AM (warm up at 10:30 AM)

Ave Maria(prelude)
Kyrie XVI
Gospel Accl.
Veni Creator(offertory)
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Anima Christi (communion)
Salve Regina

Friday, January 14, 2011

Question on choice of music for Mass


* darrharis
* CommentTime2 days ago

Hello, I'm a non-musician and new here, so forgive my naivety and ignorance.

Would it be fair to say that most of the liturgical music that church choirs choose and sing (and aside from chant) is biased to what they personally like singing i.e. a reflection of their own tastes in music? If so, where does this priority sit in most people's minds in relation to more objective liturgical priorities such as providing music that will enrich the prayers of the congregation? There may be overlap between the two priorities of course, but
not necessarily, esp if the congregation are not enthused (or even distracted) by what is being sung.

* CommentAuthorchonak
* CommentTime2 days ago

Welcome to the forum, darrharis!

One weakness in most parishes' music can be summed up in the phrase: "Don't sing at the Mass, sing the Mass." In a lot of parishes, people sing four hymns (entrance, offertory, communion, recessional), but don't sing the ordinary parts of the Mass.

The Church actually sets objective priorities for us in her teaching about sacred music. The priest and the congregation should be singing their dialogues ("The Lord be with you"/"And also with you") and the major parts of the Mass ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). The Mass is sort of designed to work well that way, and the Church's teaching about liturgical music urges us to sing those parts first of all. That's the kind of "active participation" Vatican II wanted, in which people are directly involved in their role as the congregation at the Mass.

Instead, many parish musicians have their choirs or congregations sing hymns, anthems, or songs. They may be good music or even great music (or maybe not-so-great music) perhaps, but they're not an official part of the Mass text, so they really are just being tacked onto the Mass at the parish. They're incidental to the Mass, and they're not really the prayer of the Church. It's lawful to use them (generally), but it's a poor second or third-choice, considering how wonderful it is for a congregation to sing the Mass itself.

When a congregation and priest do sing their respective parts of the Mass, the role of the choir makes sense: it's to sing the variable elements in the Mass -- the entrance antiphon, the psalm between the readings, the offertory antiphon, and the communion antiphon -- which require practice because the texts and melodies change from week to week.

I hope this is sort of along the lines you're thinking about.

Anyway, welcome: to find out more about what the CMAA is and does, watch the great video about our annual summer colloquium, produced by artist collaborative Corpus Christi Watershed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

This morning, for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, we sang Introit (in English) instead of a 'hymn.' (what I mean by 'hymn' here is one with the text of individuals.) Although it's not a Holyday of obligation, the church was full. In this parish people are used to spoken Entrance and Communion antiphones in daily Mass, so many people know what they are, but singing the Introit was a historical event in this parish. The celebrant was very happy that he can solemly process without carrying the hymnal and lead us to the Holy of Holies.

It was amazing!!! You can say I'm wrong, but I truly sensed that the silence in the church channel people to LISTEN to the Word, the text of the Proper in a beautiful music. It was a beautiful moment.

The schola sang Veni Creator before the Mass (Plenary indulgence) and Te Deum after the Mass (we invited people whoever wants to stay after the recessional hymn, Hail Holy Queen. I made copies of texts and music on the back of handouts of the Mass. Amazingly inspite it was first time sung, there were some people actually stayed for Te Deum.( I know indulgence for Te Deum was yesterday, but the schola wanted to sing it anyway. It was a tough one to learn.), and the celebrant joined us in singing it.
After the Mass a lady came and told us that she was from out of town but was so glad that she came. She said it was absolutely beautiful. It wasn't just a polite thank you, which is also nice to hear, but I can tell she was glowing with joy. I'm sure there were people who didn't like the way it was done, although I didn't hear any, but as we know we cannot satisfy everyone. Our schola was very very happy, and the priest and people told us it was beautiful. But most of all, I pray that it pleased God the most, because I believe what pleases God the most truly sanctifies us the most. After I started to sing Gregorian chant, that's what I learned. The more we focus on God, not on us, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even a small sacrifice like conforming our taste to what the Church desires the most for the Church's liturgy, helps us to remember the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross which was offered in obedience to the Father with humility. We still have lots of difficulties and take small steps, but this is the goal of our schola and share that experience with others around us.
Happy New year to you all.