From a priest reader:
The new translation is coming up in Advent. I can hardly wait! Now we are stuck using the old “lame-duck” translations, as you call it. I’d use a different phrase.
Honestly, I hate the present translation so much, I have actually sometimes made my own and used them. How bad is that?
Having looked at these translations so long, and seeing the flaws in them, what do, would you do? Do you change the words?
Remember what I tell those who are criticizing the new, corrected translation. If you don’t like it, just use Latin.
You aren’t the first person who has asked me this lately.
The lame-duck ICEL version is revolting, I know. Think about this Sunday’s upcoming Collect.
Until we have the new translation, just use the old, lame-duck version in the book as the book is printed. Say what the black words say and do what the red words say to do. We are obliged to do that. It is distasteful in one sense, but proper in the other. It’s right to wait. It is also about fidelity to one’s state in life. Just as the couple not yet in the married state, we have to wait.
What do I do? Well… I suppose … well… a word here or there… I admit it. But, no… I don’t make any extensive changes even though I think I have worked up my own translations for every Sunday and feast that can fall on a Sunday and a lot more besides. That’s not my call. My translations were intended as a crowbar to pry the Latin originals open and see the treasures within, not as replacements for the (dreadful) official texts. As a priest you use the book that is on the altar, old Mass, new Mass, whatever, tempting though it is to adjust it.
Of course there is less temptation to change the prayers in the older books. But.. now that I think of it, that is precisely what the snippers and pasters of Consilium did when gluing together the Novus Ordo. They often corrected the Latin prayers. For example, in the Collect for next Sunday’s Mass with the 2002MR the Consilium experts changed a single letter, which, though it didn’t change the sense too much, nevertheless changed the sense.
Look at this.
Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine,
ut et mundi cursus pacifico nobis tuo ordine dirigatur,
et Ecclesia tua tranquilla devotione laetetur.
This prayer was in a 7th century manuscript, the so-called Veronese Sacramentary, though it is surely much older. It was prayed on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost where it remained for centuries in the Missale Romanum until it was moved in the 1960’s to the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time. In the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum we find the adverb pacifice. The Novus Ordo redactors changed this back to the more ancient pacifico which goes with ordine. One letter. As the fabled Fr. Foster is wont to say, “It’s always one letter, friend.”
There is always the temptation to tinker, you see. Some have the authority to tinker, and they do. Whether or not they should is another matter. Garden variety priests such as we are don’t have the authority to tinker. We are also explicitly told not to by Holy Mother Church. We don’t have authority on our own to do that.
It won’t be much longer. We have endured this long.
I admit that when I say the Novus Ordo in English, which I do whenever asked, I have to shut down some of my higher brain functions. I lower my eyes and think of Summorum Pontificum. I say Mass in as reverent as way as I can. I don’t try to force the dreadful translation, with its unrelenting banality and boring parataxis, its soporific condescension and its sometimes Pelagian flavor, into even greater ugliness by trying to “read with meaning”. I say the prayers in a measured way and get on with it with never a grimace. It is Holy Mass and deserves that. Christ is the Actor in Mass. Say the black and do the red and Christ’s words and actions are made manifest. The new translation – not to mention a far better ars celebrandi learned in tandem from the older form of Mass – will allow what Christ desires us to hear in the words Holy Church gives us far more clearly.
It will be interesting to have an experience of the Novus Ordo in English… that is, in the new, corrected translation. It isn’t perfect, but it is by far better than what we have been using for the last few decades. I think I will be able to live with it.
I am ranting. I’ll stop.
Father, just say the words as they are in the book. I think it is wrong to change them. How wrong? Like I said, a word here.. a word there… maaaaaybe. Even “and” and “the” are important, as Mary McCarthy pointed out. But don’t go changing things wholesale. That’s above our pay grade.
In the meantime you can explain to people what the “prayer really says” during the sermon.
Every oration, properly translated, has treasures within. If you can’t endure the text in the book as it is, put your energy into making a sermon about that prayer that exposes the real content in such a way that your congregation will come to hang on every word of Mass, listening for what it all means.
“But Father! But Father!”, I can hear some people saying in frustration. “Some of us don’t know Latin. It’s not fair for you to leave that Latin there and not tell us what it says! What does that prayer really say?”
AWKWARD SLAVISHLY LITERAL WDTPRS RENDERING:
Grant us, we beg, O Lord,
both that the course of the world be set by your peace producing plan for us
and that your Church may be made joyful by means of tranquil devotion.
LAME-DUCK ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
guide the course of world events
and give your Church the joy and peace
of serving you in freedom.
CORRECTED ICEL TRANSLATION:
Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that the course of our world
may be directed by your peaceful rule
and that your Church may rejoice,
untroubled in her devotion.