23 June 2010

It's that ****** Third Form again

The propers for John Henry Newman are available at Oratoriani. I have duly printed them off.

The collect seems to me an intriguing piece of Latinity. Does anyone know of other examples, either in profane or ecclesiastical Latin, of confero with this accusative infinitive? According to the Oxford Latin Dictionary, and Lewis and Short, the verb, used with this sense, can be followed by a dative; by ad +accusative; by in; and even by erga. I suppose I should go into Bodley and look in the TLL, but who wants to do that in this warm weather? Perhaps a careful trawl of the ancient Sacramentaries will reveal confero+accusative and infinitive. I would be interested to know, if anybody cares to do it.

The Office Reading is a very stilted and wooden translation into Latin of a famous passage in the Apologia. Frankly, I have gummed the English original into my Liturgia Horarum, rather than face irritating myself annually as long as I live with this insult to the memory of a man who was perhaps the greatest English stylist of the nineteenth century. So far, however, on a first quick reading through, I've only noticed one real, major, Third Form howler in the actual grammar ("Now look here, Berlusconi Minor, I really am going to have to ask you to write this correction out twenty times, so as fix it in your mind"). I am sure there must be more. Is anyone at leisure to identify them? (I don't count as official 'errors' things like professis used in a passive sense, since Ovid used it thus in his erotica; although I don't like it in this sort of formal prose).

I remember carrying on, in the early days of this blog, about the dim and illiterate hacks in the CDW who are given the task of crafting new Latin liturgical formulae (the Padre Pio propers were particularly horrendous); and suggesting that the job should in future be left to Anglicans and the SSPX. I am still waiting to be convinced that this was just one of my silly jokes.

Furthermore: I know that, given recent decisions of PCED, one is not allowed to enter new celebrations into the EF calendar, which is supposed to be set in stone in the autumn of 1962. But one can say votives, surely, on free days, of beati and sancti. Shouldn't the CDW - or do I mean the PCED section of CDF? - get itself into the habit of indicating which of the alternative Commons at the back of the Missal one uses in saying an EF votive of a newly beatified ... such as JHN? (I would suggest, in his case, either of the Commons for a Confessor-not-a-Bishop, but with the Epistle and Gospel from the Common of Doctors.)

Off now, Deo volente, to Encaenia. I shall be very surprised if we get any howlers from Mr Public Orator Jenkyns. I wonder if he'll mention Mr Newman of the College vulgarly called Oriel.

8 comments:

johnreuben said...

The intention seems to have been to avoid a repetition of concedo, so a construction which would be possible with concedo has been applied to confero. A development not of doctrine but of Latin grammar!

johnreuben said...

But do we assent to that grammar? (ahem! sorry!)

johnreuben said...

Again, if you will permit me.

I am troubled by the English translation ‘who bestowed on the Priest Blessed John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light’. This, as you will have noticed, is not a correct translation of the Latin (or is it the other way around?). The English, however, gives a clue how confero is to be interpreted, that is, in the sense of ‘to give the means or grace’. So,

Deus, qui beátum Ioánnem Henrícum, presbýterum,
lumen benígnum tuum sequéntem
pacem in Ecclésia tua inveníre contulísti,
concéde propítius,
ut, eius intercessióne et exémplo,
ex umbris et imagínibus
in plenitúdinem veritátis tuae perducámur.
Per Dominum.

O God, who gave the priest Blessed John Henry [the means/the grace],
following your kindly light,
to find peace in your church:
graciously grant that through his intercession and example,
we might be led out of shadows and images
into the fullness of your truth.

Sir Watkin said...

On confero cf.

Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis.


(From O nata lux, Sarum Office Hymn for Transfiguration at Lauds, 10th century.)

Figulus said...

Sir Watkin,

Interesting juxtaposition. Do you suppose the use of conferre in "O Nata Lux", whose line you quote, perhaps inspired its use again in our collect? If you were composing a collect in which "lumen benignum" was to be mentioned, would you re-read English hymns with a lumen theme for inspiration? Or am I reaching?

Sir Watkin said...

'Tis possible, O Figulus.

Or perhaps someone involved in the composition of the collect (a priest of the Birmingham Oratory?) had Tallis' well-known setting in the back of his mind and subconsciously echoed the grammar.

Figulus said...

I am far from a careful reader, for instance I never would have noticed the unusual subject of "conferre" were it not pointed out to me, but I did notice one "howler", or at least so it seems to me. "Existimanda est" in the last paragraph struck me as hard to parse, since its predicate seems to be assumpsisse and other infinitives. Surely, I thought, "existimandum est" was meant.

I too mean to pray this part of the office in the original English. (The original English! What an odd phrase to hear applied to the liturgy!) Ironically, because I have so little practice reading 19th century English, I had to consult the Latin to understand the meaning of the idiomatic phrase "on the lowest ground". The Latin may be stilted, but it made for a fine crib! :)

I must confess to being delighted with the shear novelty of these propers, howlers and all.

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