I have enabled some intelligent comments questioning whether ... granted that Liturgical Latin is the way it is presented in the ancient Roman Sacramentaries and as it is analysed by Christine Mohrmann ... we really do need to worship like that. To this point, I would reply:
(1) The Liturgy we use is described as the Roman Rite. That is the label on the tin.
(2) Vatican II, which I regard as a true Ecumenical Council, did lay down in Sacrosanctum Concilium that the Roman Rite, while being up for revision, was to be substantially retained.
(3) In the fifth part of this series, I shall summarise Mohrmann's own account of twentieth century work on linguistics and varied linguistic registers.
(4) Liturgical Greek ... which Mohrmann also worked on ... is certainly not reductive or banausic. I do not know Coptic and Church Slavonic, but I have been told that the same is true of them.
(5) There is currently a sweet little exhibition in Bodley including a late Medieval Altar Missal with the Roman Rite in the Croatian language. I would love to be told what sort of Croatian that is!
(6) If we do not retain the tradition of the Sacral Language, I do not entirely see why we should retain traditional gestures, traditional vestments ...
(7) One comment, which suggests that we should change the language because we now see God differently, seems to me to give several games away.
(8) I think that most societies have had a more sophisticated set of linguistic presuppositions than Modern European Man. Classicists will recall the Homeric rhapsodes, who did business in a dialect of Greek which never ever had been used anywhere in Greece. And the Doricising traits of choral lyric.
I conclude with a passage kindly sent in by Thomas a couple of years ago, taken from The Earliest English Poems by Michael Alexander (Penguin 1966).
" ... old English prose never achieved the sophisticated word-order and complex synrtax of Greek or Latin. This does not apply to verse ... the poets used a special archaic diction inherited from days when their art had been purely oral. This word-hoard amounts almost to a language within a language; it differs greatly in vocabulary and syntax from the rudimentary attempts of the prose writers - because ... the poet is the keeper of the traditions which hold the cynn (the kin) together ... the older a word was, the more it was vlued by the cynn ... the poet is historian and priest, and his songs have ritual significance. That is why the language of the poets was so deeply conservative, and why the written records of it that we have show it so different from the language of the earliest prose-writers."
To which I would add a reminder of (the Anglican) Catherine Pickstock's brilliant account of the Classical Roman Rite in terms of oral culture (Beyond Writing). As well as reading Mohrmann, the tinkerers in Rome would be well advised to read Pickstock.