1st Week of Advent – Friday

While today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, for the sake of being complete let us look at the Collect for Friday of the 1st Week of Advent:

This prayer was in the 1962 Missale Romanum and is taken from the ancient Gregorian Sacramentary.

COLLECT:
Excita, quaesumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni,
ut, ab imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis,
te mereamur protegente eripi,
te liberante salvari.

LITERAL VERSION:
Rouse up Your might, we beseech You, O Lord, and come,
that, as You are protecting us, we may merit to be snatched away
from the menacing dangers of our sins
and, as You are freeing us, be saved.

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12 Responses to 1st Week of Advent – Friday

  1. The Latin here is beautiful, the literal English translation falls flat. “That, as You are protecting us, we may merit to be snatched away from the menacing dangers of our sins”

    “menacing dangers” is pleonastic.

    “snatched away from” is unsuitable — you can snatch as baby away from its mother but you do not snatch a man away from danger.

  2. How about:

    Rouse up, we beseech Thee, Thy might, O Lord, and come,
    so that with Thee as protector we may deserve to be rescued
    from the pressing danger of our sins
    and with Thee as redeemer attain unto salvation.

  3. Spirit of Vatican II: You might want to review the purpose of the WDTPRS series. It is not my intention in the literal versions I provide to give something which is smooth or elegant. The point is to get people into the text, especially in a way that someone with some Latin might see the structure more easily. The fact that you reacted, confirms the purpose of the entries. Some folks choose endlessly to pick at these literal versions, as if something else were intended by them. After a while… well… their comments no longer appear here.

    I will also add that your choice of “with” in rendering the ablative absolute should probably be avoided as suggesting accompaniment. An old point, perhaps, but a useful one. “Menacing danger” is pleonastic? Okay. But our Latin prayers are filled with sort of thing. “Pressing”? Sure. I don’t, however, think it gives the impact of something “imminens”, which presents the ideal of “hanging” or “looming” over, indeed, “to threaten by nearness”, as the Lewis & Short puts it. “Deserve”? Perhaps. Maybe “merit” harks more clearly to the classical language about the “merits” of Christ? Otherwise, I appreciate the “Thee” and “Thy” and “unto”. I tend not to use those, as much as I like them, because I know that the new translation won’t have them. Too bad.

  4. Bill Cork says:

    The Lutheran Book of Worship still has this collect for Advent 1. It translates it:

    Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

  5. RBrown says:

    “menacing dangers” is pleonastic.

    The Jewish mentality is oriented toward pleonasms. Ditto the Italian.


    “snatched away from” is unsuitable—you can snatch as baby away from its mother but you do not snatch a man away from danger.

    Unless, of course, we are speaking about God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God. And there are many NT references to men as the Children of the Father. It is not only a constant theme but probably the central NT theme.

  6. In case Father doesn’t post the Immaculate Conception prayers, I have my translation at my blog:
    http://romansacristan.blogspot.com/2006/12/comparison-of-prayers-immaculate.html

    I try to make mine readable, but I also want to stick to a literal translation, keeping structures as much as possible. It may be a bit “clunky” but the truth is more important than prose.

  7. The Old Testament is pleonastic in the sense that the normal rhythm of its verse is to say everything twice, and this has been well inculturated into English in the KJV etc. BUt normally English is a language that is very intolerant of pleonasm, whereas it appears that Latin is not. This is an argument against literal translation as the norm. In the case of the Japanese language, of which the entire structure is very alien to Indo-European syntax, literal translation produces something quite unreadable and unrecitable. We hear a lot about inculturation, but in our practice we are acting against the spirit of inculturation all the time — and the result of course is to make the Gospel inaudible in non-European cultures.

  8. Maureen says:

    English is extremely tolerant of pleonasm, as taking a listen to native speakers’ normal conversation will tell you.

    It is post-Hemingway writers of English who are intolerant of pleonasm.

  9. Guy Power says:

    “…[Pleonasm]can even aid in achieving a particular linguistic effect, be it social, poetic, or literary. In other words, pleonasm sometimes serves the same function as rhetorical repetition—it reinforces a point, and makes the writing clearer and easier to understand….”
    Nothing wrong with that, eh?

    In the case of the Japanese language, of which the entire structure is very alien to Indo-European syntax, literal translation produces something quite unreadable and
    unrecitable.

    That is quite correct; however, Latin is not an Ural-Altaic language — it is
    Indo-European: literal translations are not (as?) unreadable/unrecitable.

    And though I am not a Latinist, isn’t Latin similar to Japanese in that its construction is “SOV” (subject-object-verb) vice English’s SVO?

    Speaking as someone who (with great difficulty) has translated pre-1945 Japanese,
    I think anybody who ever has translated from Japanese knows it is full of pleonasms; they apparently can’t help but to write the same thing twice in a sentence. I think this observation still holds true in modern Japanese newspapers. (Okay, a slight exageration … but very slight at that).

  10. RBrown says:

    The Old Testament is pleonastic in the sense that the normal rhythm of its verse is to say everything twice, and this has been well inculturated into English in the KJV etc. BUt normally English is a language that is very intolerant of pleonasm, whereas it appears that Latin is not. This is an argument against literal translation as the norm. In the case of the Japanese language, of which the entire structure is very alien to Indo-European syntax, literal translation produces something quite unreadable and unrecitable. We hear a lot about inculturation, but in our practice we are acting against the spirit of inculturation all the time—and the result of course is to make the Gospel inaudible in non-European cultures.

    Thanks for an excellent arguement for the liturgy being in Latin.

  11. I agree, actually, that the basic problem is that our collects, secrets and postcommunion prayers, and perhaps our prefaces as well, are intimately connected with the genius of the Latin language. They are always a pleasure to read and recite in Latin.

    However, in translation they fall flat — of all the uncountable times I have read them aloud at Mass all I recall is plowing through sawdust. They are linguistically and theologically dead. So I urge again that prayers be composed suitable for the occasions, as is done in Anglican worship, and that we get away from the zombie routine of uttering collects and secrets and poscommunions in unthinking routine fashion without any concern with their theological and communicational meaning.

    I make it a practice to replace the postcommunion prayer with an impromptu one of my own that resumes the impact of the Mass of the day — this is much appreciated by the Sisters I say Mass with. No one has ever said: “Oh, what a pity you did not say the beautiful and profound postcommunion for the day!”

  12. Fr. O’Leary: “I make it a practice to replace the postcommunion prayer with an impromptu one of my own that resumes the impact of the Mass of the day—this is much appreciated by the Sisters I say Mass with. No one has ever said: “Oh, what a pity you did not say the beautiful and profound postcommunion for the day!””

    In that case the bishop of the diocese should have a chat with your superior!