Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Serene and Kindly... Um... Oh, No..."

More from the ICEL stuff. The bishop-members of the commission met in Leeds three weeks ago and no work has been done on these texts since. So, to this point, it is what stands.

Here's a snippet from Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon.

It currently reads:
Look with favor on these offerings
and accept them
as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel,
the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.
The revised text says:
Be pleased to look upon them
with a serene and kindly gaze
and to accept them,
as you were pleased to accept
the gifts of your just servant Abel,
the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek,
a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.
Er, that's a mouthful.

And as one source put it, "the last thing anyone needs these days is for the words 'serene and kindly gaze' to be uttered with a bunch of American seminarians gathered around. Just picture it."

-30-

16 Comments:

Blogger Gotpraecht said...

This is a bit of an improvement on what I recall of the first draft and some of the other gobbets you've thrown us, Rocco.

In at least one respect, it's also an improvement on the present tranlation (IMHO).

I hope I'm not calumnniating the drafters when I seem to recall that digneris was "deign" last time (aargh!!) and propitio vultu was "propitious countenance" (aargh encore une fois)

Abel is "righteous" (iustus) in the Latin, and I simply can't see what the translation presently in use achieved by dropping this.
Same for the omission of "high" before priest.

I don't feel quite as proprietorial about the priests' texts as I only have to listen to them rather than reciting or singing them. Questions of cadence and rhythm aren't quite as important here either.

Did the drafters of the translation presently in use ever write a kind of apologia for their decisions? It would be interesting to know why they made the choices they did.

Doubtless it all was a conspiracy of Freemasons, Liberals in hand-knitted jumpers and dancing nuns. I wouldn't put it past them.

27/9/05 16:07  
Blogger patrick said...

I don't think "serene and kindly gaze" is so bad. Compare with the Anglican Use:

"Vouchsafe to look upon them with a merciful and pleasant countenance: and to accept them, even as thou didst vouchsafe to accept the gifts of thy servant Abel the Righteous, and the sacrifice of our Patriarch Abraham: and the holy sacrifice, the immaculate victim, which thy high priest Melchisedech offered unto thee."

27/9/05 16:08  
Blogger Gotpraecht said...

the holy sacrifice, the immaculate victim, which thy high priest Melchisedech offered unto thee

Better to leave the holy sacrifice and immaculate victim syntactically vague as the new translation does.

Melchizedek offered a type of the holy sacrifice and immaculate victim, but not the holy sacrifice and immaculate victim himself.

The Anglican use links them, which is one legitimate translation, but in the Latin they could also be the object of "Vouchsafe to look upon them" as well. The new
translation preserves that ambiguity.

I suspect the translation we use at Mass inserted "bread and wine" precisely to emphasise that Melchizedek's offering was a type of Christ's sacrifice and not the res ipsa.

27/9/05 16:18  
Blogger patrick said...

gotpraecht,

Yes, I see your point, I think that the Anglican Use translation does make the sacrifice of Melchizedek to be an offering of the immaculate victim, and that can't be right.

Interesting trivia question. Do you know where that translation came from? It first appeared, of all places, in Foxe's Book of the Martyrs in which Foxe provides for the Protestant reader a translation of the Latin mass written by the English reformer Miles Coverdale, who also drafted (I think) the Book of Common Prayer Psalter.

That translation, as far as I know, was never used in worship in Anglicanism until the advent of the Anglo-Catholic (and arguably uncanonical) "Anglican Missal" or "English Missal" which used the Coverdale translation as an alternative to the Prayer Book canon. The use of this translation was almost certainly illegal in both the Church of England and the Episcopal Church, yet at one time it was commonly used in "advanced" Anglo-Catholic parishes in the C of E. But, it was rarely ever used in the Episcopal Church in the United States, yet it, and not the Prayer Book canon that virtually all American Episcopalians used, that is authorized for use in the United States by Rome and the Bishops' Conference. Irony piled on top of irony! Yet it is happy result for most extreme Anglo-Catholics.

27/9/05 16:37  
Blogger Gotpraecht said...

That's utterly fascinating about Coverdale. I wonder if he made the translation for polemical purposes as Luther did in "On the Misuse of the Mass."

I was doing some work on a 16th century German defence of the Mass recently and until I read it I hadn't realised how sensitive Catholics were about the translation of the Canon in this period.

The author (Johannes Gropper) apologises to his readers for giving them a German translation and feels obliged to defend himself against the objection that this is "casting pearls before swine." He describes himself as driven to this desperate measure because Luther's translation had resulted in the words of the Canon being "discussed in bathhouses."

What Gropper would have thought of dissections of liturgical translations in cyberspace, I can't begin to imagine!

27/9/05 16:45  
Blogger patrick said...

Indeed, Foxe used the translation for polemical purposes, but I don't know if Coverdale did. It would be interesting for someone to read the translation to see where Coverdale's translation is deliberately slanted. But, to do that, one would have to consult the translation in Foxe (the original Foxe, not the condensed version for middle class Anglo-American Protestants), rather than the Anglican Use translation because (I think) there are tweaks in the AU version to account for the changes between the old Roman Canon versus the Roman Canon as found in the Novus Ordo.

27/9/05 17:10  
Blogger Gotpraecht said...

But, to do that, one would have to consult the translation in Foxe (the original Foxe, not the condensed version for middle class Anglo-American Protestants)

Ta da! The following is a sound scholarly site here in the UK:

http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/foxe/single/book10/10_1563_0891.html

Vouchsafe thou also with a mercyfull and pleasaunte countenaunce, to haue respecte herevnto, and to accept thesame as thou diddest vouchesafe to accept the giftes of thy righteous seruaunte Abell, and the sacrifice of oure Patriarke Abraham, and the holye sacryfice the vndefyled host, that thy hygh Priest Melchisedech dyd offer vnto thee.

Foxe adds the following commentary: Haue ye the most precious bodie of Christe in so small estimation that ye resemble it to the beasts which Abel & Abraham offered?

Sorry, I'm getting into real church history-geek territory here. I'd better cease and desist.

27/9/05 17:35  
Blogger Jeff said...

No, no, don't desist either of you! It's a pleasure to see real learning and an interest in language and history on display. Gottpraecht--when he's not feeling smug and tendentious--is a pleasure to read and a privilege to learn from. As are you, Patrick.

Rocco, complains about bitch posts. Well, this conversation avoids the twin evils of bitchiness and saccharine sweetness which plague the combox.

27/9/05 17:40  
Blogger patrick said...

Well, there are some differences between Coverdale and Anglican Use." "Host" versus "victim" is interesting. Host would be closer to the Latin root but far more obscure to the English reader than "victim." Given Liturigam Authenticam, what is the right result?

And were there any relevant differences in the Canon between the Sarum Use and the Tridentine Rite? (I would have to look this up.)

All, in all, the translation seems to be close, but it would be interesting to trace the differences in the text. Sounds like one would have to consult Father James Parker in South Carolina or Father James Barker in the San Bernandino Diocese for the answer since they were involved in compiling the Anglican Use.

By the way, Foxe's snark really stands the theology of the Canon of the mass on its head. Not at all credible.

27/9/05 17:49  
Blogger Henry said...

... rather than the Anglican Use translation because (I think) there are tweaks in the AU version to account for the changes between the old Roman Canon versus the Roman Canon as found in the Novus Ordo.

Actually, the last time I attempted a word-for-word comparison of the Novus Ordo Latin Roman Canon (EP I) and the ancient Tridentine Roman Canon, I did not -- unless my attention wandered -- spot any verbatim differences at all, except for the familiar removal of the Mysterium fidei from the consecration of the blood to immediately thereafter (and the insertion of the following memorial acclamation options). On a more pedantic level:

"propitio ac sereno vultu"

That's set in concrete (Latin), so it's not a question of what we'd like it to say, but of rendering faithfully -- as required by the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam -- what it actually does say (in the official Latin). From Stelten's Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin:

propitius -- merciful, favorable, kind, propitious, forgiving, gracious
ac -- and
serenus -- bright, serene, clear, fair
vultus -- countenance, face

serene and kindly gaze

So "serene and kindly" seems as smooth and propitious a translation of "propitio ac sereno" as one could expect. But is "gaze" really better than "countenance"? Is my gaze the same as my countenance?

27/9/05 18:04  
Blogger Gregg said...

Pretty rare to hear EP I anywhere it seems to me, so the problem mentioned seems improbable at best.

27/9/05 18:09  
Blogger Gotpraecht said...

Yes, but translation is never simply a substitution of word for word, but of cultural world for cultural world.

Look, for example, at Abel, "puer tuus." Your
dictionary will tell you that you can translate "puer" as "boy" or as "servant" (same as with Greek "pais").

But Latin speakers only had one word "puer" and perhaps the closest modern equivalent we have its the use of "boy" to refer to grown black men in some southern states of the US not so long ago.

Dictionary definitions of individual words will get you so far, but they won't recreate the full cultural significance of a majestic "vultus propitius and serenus," and for that reason the relatively neutral "looking with favour" has
certain advantages despite its flatness.

I don't know about you, but I associate serene and kindly faces with my grandparent, but I don't think that's the image the writers of the Canon had in mind.

PS I'm pretty sure the canon was the same in the Sarum and Tridentine rite.

27/9/05 18:16  
Blogger Henry said...

"Host" versus "victim" is interesting. Host would be closer to the Latin root but far more obscure to the English reader than "victim." Given Liturigam Authenticam, what is the right result?

Consulting Stelten again:

immaculatum hostiam
spotless victim

hostia - host, victim, sacrifice, offering, gift

In the context of the Canon, it refers to the thing being sacrificed, and which we're asking God to accept, so "victim" seems (to me) the almost obligatory choice.

27/9/05 18:16  
Blogger Henry said...

Pretty rare to hear EP I anywhere it seems to me, so the problem mentioned seems improbable at best.

Then, here in my fairly remote southern diocese, I must be more fortunate than I've been aware. At daily Mass, in the typical week I hear EP I at least twice (always on solemnities, frequently on feast days, throughout Easter and Pentecost weeks, etc) and each of the others only once or twice -- usually EP III on Sundays and feast days if not I, and (thankfully) EP II rarely on Sundays, EP IV about once a week.

Actually, our overstaffed smallish parish has 3 priests, two essentially retired but still celebrating Mass regularly, one of which usually uses EP II, one usually uses EP III, and the other uses EP I most often. So the parish is probably atypical.

27/9/05 18:44  
Blogger RC said...

I don't know about you, but I associate serene and kindly faces with my grandparent, but I don't think that's the image the writers of the Canon had in mind.

"Serene and kindly face" reminds us that God is eternally blessed, serene and happy. At least in our culture, where people often think of God as eternally outraged, it's a needed corrective.

27/9/05 18:52  
Blogger George Collie said...

Who cares about the Anglican canons?

My answer would be that the Anglicans have been grappling with tranlating into English for more than 450 years. Our Church has really only been dealing with English in the Mas for a century or so.

Whatever their canonical status, the Anglicans were the first Church do pray, think and speak in English. We can learn a lot from them.

28/9/05 18:37  

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