Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Translation of the Roman Missal

I was just looking at some of the new ICEL translations of the Roman Missal texts, and I must say, they are very fine. Unlike the ICEL translations of the 1970 Missal of Paul VI, these new translations are much more faithful to the original Latin. The texts, along with their respective chants, can be viewed at The people that serve on ICEL are to be congratulated for their fidelity-- it only took them 40 years to set things straight! Of course, I understand there was a good deal of pressure from the Roman hierarchy to make sure that the translators stuck to the texts rather than promote their own 'sense' of the texts.

It would have been wonderful if the committee that produced Evangelical Lutheran Worship had waited until these new ICEL translations had come out. Actually, however, it wouldn't have mattered since the ELW people were not interested in fidelity in translating ancient liturgical texts but in promoting their own narrow ultra-feminist sectarian agenda. The ELW people had no qualms about surgically removing "Father" and "Lord" from the proper prefaces, or changing the catholic creeds and the Psalms to make them more 'inclusive' (that is, more palatable to feminists). The irony is, in some cases, the Latin texts are much more inclusive than ELW's. For example, the response that has been rendered "It is right to give our thanks and praise" is "Dignum et justum est" in Latin. This should be translated simply as "It is right and just." In the LBW it was rendered "It is right to give him thanks and praise." This was borrowed from the ICEL text of the 1970 Missal. Then the ELW people tinkered with an already poorly rendered text, changing "him" to "our" in order to avoid 'offensive masculine language for God. So now the focus is on us--on our thanks and praise, as opposed to him (God). More liturgical self congratulating! All this could have been avoided, of course, if the Latin had been translated properly in the first place. But as I said, fidelity was not a priority for the ELW crew.

So, when it comes to the highly defective ELW, I admonish you caveat emptor!


Ofotherworlds said...

"It is right and just" may be a literal translation of the Latin, but it's bad English- it's not strictly speaking bad grammar, since 'It' can only refer to one thing, but "it is" sounds rather terse and uninformative, as well as using the passive voice unnecessarily. "Giving thanks and praise is right and just" would be better.

The Society for the Preservation of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy said...

"Giving thanks and praise is right and just" seem a bit awkward. It would also be rather difficult to sing with the traditional chant. I like the old BCP's "It is meet and right so to do." However, this is very antiquated. It seems perfectly reasonable to respond to "Let us give thank to the Lord our God" with "It is right and just to give him thanks and praise." This obsession with getting rid of male pronouns for God is utterly ridiculous, not to mention unfaithful to catholic tradition.

Augustinian Successor said...

Where's your proof that Luther ever regarded the incense as "adiaphora"or that he allowed" the practice to continue?

What's wrong with being a "Romaphobe" if it's grounded in the Gospel? Are you saying that the Reformation was not anti-Rome? Why are you a Lutheran then, and not in the Roman obedience?

The Society for the Preservation of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy said...

I direct you to Luther's Formula Missae et Communionis of 1523 in which, regarding the chanting of the Holy Gospel he states, "for this we neither prohibit nor prescribe the use of incense." I recommend you read Luther's Works (American Edition) Volume 53. There is a good quote from liturgical historian Frank Senn in the book Writing and Religion in England by Roger D. Sell and Anthony W. Johnson:" "The whole style of celebration of Mass assumed by Luther was close to the Roman tradition. Vestments, candles, and incense can be retained ('Let these things be free'), along with altars, crucifixes, and the sign of the cross." You may also want to take a look at Ingve Brilioth's "Eucharistic Faith and Practice" and Frank Senn's "Christian Liturgy: Evangelical and Catholic." The Augsburg Confession and it's Apology in the Book of Concord deal with the issue of adiaphora; with regard to externals these things ought to be free and no law regarding their use or disuse should be imposed. I direct you to this excellent site where all the confessional citations are given. I suggest you pay close attention to Appendix 1 which is a detailed description of Lutheran worship in the Age of Lutheran Orthodoxy.

Now to your other issue. I define a "Romophobe" as someone who has no real knowledge of Roman Catholic doctrine, but is prejudiced against any liturgical ceremony, practice, or gesture that is used in the Roman Church or has the appearance of being Roman. This is simply a psychosis. Just because Rome makes use of a particular practice, does that mean it is off limits to Protestants? A Roman Catholic priest wrote the hymn "Silent Night." Does that mean we can't sing it in our churches as well? Of course not.

I see from your blog that you are a Prayer Book Anglican. Unfortunately, the C of E was influenced by the iconoclasm of Calvinism and this led directly to the ritualist controversies in the 19th and early 20th Centuries in Anglicanism. Had Melanchthon gone to England perhaps the C of E would have had a healthier freer attitude toward liturgical ceremonial and those controversies would not have plagued the Anglicans as they did and in some places still do. I am not in the Roman Communion because I am not a Roman Catholic. I am a pastor in the Church of the Augsburg Confession which has a few significant doctrinal differences with Rome. However, these differences are not chiefly about externals; these are about doctrinal substance. Didn't Augustine say, In essentials, unity and in non-essentials diversity"?

The Liturgy and Sacraments amongst the Churches of the Augsburg Confession said...

My parish is using ELW now. I'm not really sure why. It was probably just the newer is better fallacy. Are you guys still using SBH? The SBH does have "antiquated" language, but its beauty to me is in its thoroughly modern context, unlike Missouri's TLH (prayers for industrial relations and the proper use of wealth, for example). Plus, I understand the use of Elizabethan English in liturgy to be something akin to Russia's use of Old Church Slavonic. It's still very intelligible, but it sets it apart ("kaddishizes" it) from our everyday usage. Also Elizabethan English is so much more precise than contemporary English. At least that's the argument Orwell made.

The Society for the Preservation of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy said...

Greetings "Liturgy and Sacraments."

Thank you for reading my blog. I've been so busy I haven't had time to write anything lately. To answer your question, my congregation is still using the LBW. We haven't switched to the ELW. The ELW is a sectarian heretical book that is clearly influenced by the radical feminist movement. The altering of Creeds (and the omission of the Athanasian Creed), the tinkering with ancient liturgical formularies and prayers, and the incredible damage done to the Psalter are the main reasons to stay away from ELW. I think that if the ELCA had been honest with congregations about the actual agenda behind ELW and the changes that would be made, relatively few congregations would have purchased it. Most congregations opted to buy it because it's new and their pastors sold them on it.

I have a strong love for the old SBH. It's language is exalted and churchly (not really Elizabethan--just good English). Pastors who advocated the LBW argued that the SBH was no longer viable because modern people "don't speak that way." So we go with what is pedestrian and ordinary and our worship loses dignity, mystery, exaltation. Roman Catholics did the same thing when they adopted the ICEL translations for the Missal of Paul VI. Now they are trying to recapture some of the beauty and majesty that was lost in the 40+ years since Vatican II. Sadly, with ELW, ELCA Lutherans are decidedly not seeking to recapture our tradition but to distance ourselves from it even further. I think the new LC-MS book is excellent in many ways. A much more Lutheran worship book and very faithful to our tradition. If only we had produced something of that quality. And so, we're still with LBW until something better comes along--and it won't be published by Augsburg Fortress.