Skip to comments.More Reflections on Liturgical Language [Anglo-Catholic Perspective on Latin vs Vernacular Debate]
Posted on 05/06/2010 6:51:26 AM PDT by marshmallow
I have often mentioned the anomalous situation in the Latin Church today of the traditional liturgies being available only in Latin (except the Scripture readings) and the only vernacular liturgy being the modern Roman rite. The authorised Anglican Use liturgy has been, until now, available only in a handful of parishes in the United States. The Ordinariates are going to make vernacular liturgies following more traditional forms available.
The cultural poverty of the modern vernacular rite, in almost all but the most conservative churches like the London Oratory, has pushed the more traditionally-minded to choose the older form. For some of those people, this preference may be in spite of it being in Latin. Now, dont get me wrong. I have nothing against Latin, and I indeed usually say Mass in Latin. But, Latin is a real barrier for some people, a pastoral issue. I am sure there are many people who would prefer a traditional form of the Mass and the Office, but in a formal and sacred vernacular rather than Latin. A modern English-speaking person with an average education can understand the English of Cranmer, though there may be a few difficulties of words that have changed their meanings over the centuries. To follow a Latin Mass, they could do so only be reading a translation in a bi-lingual hand missal. Some people like to have their hands freer, and to be able to look at what is going on in the liturgy rather than spending the whole time reading the translation or being there without understanding.
It would seem to me that one of the most important aspects of Anglican patrimony is the use of the vernacular over a number of centuries in such a way as it does not destroy liturgical culture in the way that vernacular liturgies composed in the 1960s and 1970s have done. The vernacular has been helpful, for it enables the people to understand the texts of the liturgy. Liturgical pastoral ministry (ie: teaching and catechesis) does not stop at having people understand the texts. There is the question of active participation that was brought up by Vatican II but very badly applied. The first thing, after understanding what the priest is saying and what is being sung, is for the people to be brought to understand the meaning of the liturgy in general, the symbols and gestures as well as the text, what it is all about. Anglo-Catholics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries developed culturally rich and hieratic liturgical forms in the familiar Prayer Book idiom, and it worked.
It has to be said that the issue of Latin has been exaggerated by the proponents of the vernacular. In the 1980s, I had long conversations with a philosophy don I knew in Oxford, Dr Ray Winch, who had become Eastern Orthodox in the 1950s and dreamt of bringing western-rite Orthodoxy to England. He had made extensive studies of medieval church life at the level of men like Dr Eamon Duffy and Christopher Haigh. Ordinary parishioners in the fourteenth century were not classical scholars or humanists, but the ploughmans Latin was something like learning a modern language by the audio-visual method. They knew little grammar, but they understood what was repeated in the liturgy Sunday after Sunday. And, dont forget, many of those faithful in those days were going to church on weekdays, and to Vespers as well as Mass. The humanists made Latin something elitist, and began to require perfect comprehension of a language. If people dont understand Latin well enough, either you abolish Latin or you send them to school and teach them Latin. Or you have them live in a parochial liturgical culture where they will learn Latin by total immersion, something that is not found in our time.
Unfortunately, that audio-visual understanding of liturgical Latin is gone, and we are left with the vernacular liturgy or Latin liturgies where people have to read the translation. Latin is possible now when the faithful explicitly ask for it, in monasteries, when a priest who understands Latin is celebrating alone and in some other particular circumstances. In most places, Latin is gone, and in the Catholic Church, the vernacular means the modern liturgy and the lame duck translations (the new English translation will take at least another year to be available). I am convinced that it will not be possible to restore Latin as the normative language of the liturgy, but this is where the Anglican liturgical culture comes in, that is Anglicans who have continued to use the Prayer Book, the Anglican Missal or the English Missal, or even the available English translations in the same style of the Use of Sarum.
This question of liturgical language has often been badly handled in an all-or-nothing environment of extreme polarisation between conservatives and innovators. We Anglicans are in a unique position to help in this regard the celebration of a traditional form liturgy in the vernacular. What we Anglicans are doing will certainly have a great amount of influence on the way the modern Roman Mass will be celebrated in the new official ICEL translation.
Reading what real people say, what did most harm in the post-conciliar years was the sudden removal of the mystery and sense of the sacred. We have both in an Anglo-Catholic liturgy, even though it is in English. What took everything out of the Mass were above all the use of a banal translation (as a professional translator, I wouldnt call it a translation but a paraphrase or adaptation) and the priest facing the people.
Anglicanorum Coetibus was certainly an act of pastoral outreach towards Anglicans who pushed the panic button and asked the Holy Father for his help. It is also an invitation, not on account of classical ecumenism, but in response to our cries for help that the Catholic Church sees that we are going to be useful. We need a strongly Anglican liturgical identity to show other Catholics what can be done in a language they can understand in complement to the efforts of Catholic traditionalists in full communion with the body of the Church to keep, preserve and foster the Latin liturgy for future generations.
Where have these people been hiding..........or have I just been moving in the wrong circles??
We need them.
Indeed we do!
Wish I had an Anglican Use Parish in my area. I completely agree with Father's comments regarding the Latin Liturgy. I love it but would love even more a reverent, traditional and beautiful liturgy where I understood what was being said without having to refer to my missal.
But somebody is going to have to do a decent translation of the Consecration and related prayers. The translation for the Anglican Use Rite was done by somebody with cloth ears and far too much affection for the current ICEL 'interpretation'. What we need is a traditionally-educated Englishman (i.e. Greats) with a good background in 16th century literature.
But there's a lot of stuff going on under the radar -- our parish uses a lot of the English anthems and motets. A good shove from a mass migration of Anglicans would probably tip us over into a good English liturgy. I'm afraid the new translation is just a patch job on an essentially flawed original.
“Brick by brick”...........as Fr. Z would say.
Most of the Anaphora in the Anglican Use was the Roman Canon taken from an Anglo-Catholic missal of some sort. There were some pieces added from the (soon to be obsolete) ICEL translation of the 1970 Missale Romanum.
It's as though in the middle of "Thou knowest Lord the secrets of our hearts" somebody threw in a couple of lines from "Gather Us In".
Like I said, whoever wrote it had cloth ears!
Modern Catholic liturgies with their thumping guitars, kumbaya songs and horrid English renditions of prayers and scripture removed the reverence that should be part of the Mass. My dear departed Mother, a convert to Catholicism, said that if you need to provide entertainment to get people to go to mass, their being there doesn’t count for much.
I agree with Fr. Chadwick 100%. I would count it a calamity to lose the Latin liturgy; but I do not have much confidence that it will continue to be *the* primary liturgy of Western Christendom in the coming centuries. We’re simply in a different place now than we were from 500-1500. And the vernacularization of the liturgy is not some transitory fling of the 1960s either. The CounterReformation Church was understandably wary of the whole thing given Protestant excesses, but it too came to gradually expand the privilege over the years: in the missions (China, North America, etc.) and also in Europe itself (e.g. the singmesse).
And there’s the whole civilization aspect. Rome gave us Latin, Greece gave us Greek, Egypt gave us Coptic, and the present dominance of English across the globe says to me that it, too, will now take its place among the liturgical languages in the Church.
I haven’t got a drop of English blood in my veins, but I find the Anglo-Catholic ethos to be the most sensible starting point for American liturgy. I am delighted to see them be an increasing force in the Church here.
It's so rare and refreshing to encounter someone who sees a way to preserve both and in a manner in which they enrich each other.
Such lucidity is hard to find and it seems to fit right in with the "reform of the reform" and what the documents of Vatican II really speak to regarding the liturgy (at least as I understand them).
When did common sense depart Catholicism and find a refuge amongst the Anglo-Catholics?
But there are plenty of Anglicans who went stark raving mad, and correspondingly plenty of Catholics who clung to the old ways.
It would make a lot of sense if we just traded the bongo-beating "musicians", the loony liturgists, the short-haired mean "sisters", New Age philosophising "priests", and all the rest of the heterodox rabble for the faithful Anglicans.
Except I don't think the "musicians" will be welcome amongst the Anglicans. Whatever their theological faults (and they are legion), the Anglicans have always had Good Taste.
The ICEL interpolations are glaringly obvious (at least to an old history major with a minor in English lit). It was supposed to be a translation of a Sarum Use Rite in Latin . . . but they botched the job.
Father Z had an interesting side-by-side comparison of the Latin, what he calls "the lame-duck ICEL translation," and Cranmer's translation of the old Collect for 4th Easter. It's instructive:
Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis:
da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis,
id desiderare quod promittis;
ut inter mundanas varietates
ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.
Fr. Z's literal translation:
O God, You who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will,
grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command,
to desire that which You promise,
so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world,
our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.
Thomas Cranmer's translation (quite literal, but with the characteristic Anglican rhythm, balance, and restatement of key words):
O almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men:
Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest,
and desire that which thou dost promise,
that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found.
The ICEL really laid an egg:
help us to seek the values
that will bring us lasting joy
in this changing world.
In our desire for what you promise
make us one in mind and heart.
ICEL is, as usual, wretched.
I prefer Cranmer, simply because of my familiarity with the form. It's a hallmark of the BCP that for one Latin word (which because of the language's compact style usually has more than one meaning packed into it) Cranmer would substitute two related words to shed light on the multiple meanings. E.g. "wills and affections", "sundry and manifold". Also, many clauses have a mirror image: "love the thing which thou commandest/ desire that which thou dost promise".
I also like the 2nd person singular because it assists in the sense of "otherness" of the liturgy.
But that . . . as they say . . . is just me.
For the collects, sure, but the Eucharistic prayer is the Roman Canon taken from the the Knott missal or something like it.
The Collect for the 4th Sunday after Easter is one of ICEL's most infamous hack jobs. "Help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy" ... ??? There are high school sophomore religion classes that could come up with something better than that.
I had read somewhere that the interpolation of the Eucharistic Prayer was from the Sarum Use Latin. Have no idea where, now. I see that website has the Sarum Rite as well, but given the general horribleness of ICEL translations, we probably wouldn't be able to pin down a source.
I think that the Pope should issue a moto proprio declaring that the use of the non-word "values" in ANY liturgical context will result in instant excommunication. And maybe being put in the stocks for a day or two.