6 April 2017

S John Paul's legacy is under threat, but it is safe in the Ordinariates

That marvellous Roman document of 2001, Liturgiam authenticam, is currently reported to be under threat by the wolves who are becoming ever more unrestrained as they circle hungrily round the reinstatements of Tradition which blessed the end of the Pontificate of S John Paul II and that of Benedict XVI.

I rather think that it is arrant hypocrisy to canonise a Saint and, not more than a decade and a half later, to strive contemptuously to dismantle his legacy.

Although LA subverted the assumptions of Comme le prevoit, and thus of the style of vernacular Liturgy created in the 1970s, it was very soundly based on the very sound work done by an earlier generation of immensely erudite scholars; men and women the destruction of whose scholarship is one of the disgraces of the Rupture Years.

Prominent among these was the great student of liturgical Latin Christine Mohrmann. She expressed the hope that modern European vernaculars might develop sacral, liturgical dialects. So LA talked about "the gradual creation in every vulgar tongue of a sacred style, to be recognised as the correct way of talking liturgically (sermo proprie liturgicus; para 27)" and the production of a "sacred vernacular language the vocabulary, syntax, and grammar of which are to be proper to divine worship" (para 47).

Patrimonial readers, of course, will reflect that the liturgical tradition initiated by Dr Cranmer's Prayer Books had provided just such a vernacular sacred dialect. A couple of years ago, the Ordinariate Missal came on stream, so that Cranmer's hieratic English - although not his heterodox theology - is now a liturgical usage in good standing within the liturgical community of the Roman Catholic Church. I wonder what Professor Mohrmann would have thought of it ... I like to imagine her warmly approving.

Cranmer had a characteristic habit of expanding, padding out, just by a few syllables, his Latin originals. The original Roman prayers were so spare, terse, and elegant that - to put it bluntly - a literal English version might be over before the congregation had started attending to what it said. This can be illustrated by the collect for the Second Sunday in Lent in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite ... and in Ordinariate Use. Bold italic type indicates Cranmer's supplementing of the Latin Original.

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourseves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul (Latin: in mente).

This superb old collect, from the Sacramentary sent by Pope Hadrian I to Charlemagne, does not feature at all among the Lenten Sunday collects in the modern Roman Rite ... which eliminates all five of the old Sunday collects before Palm Sunday and replaces three of them with new compositions (two of these 'worked up' from some phrases found in the Mozarabic Rite). The Anglican Common Worship also eliminates them. Silly Tweedle Dum is so often to be found panting along just behind silly Tweedle Dee.

The old collects were just too simple, profound, austere; too imbued with that wonderfully dignified Romanita which formed Western European culture for nearly two millennia ... for blinkered modern liturgical committee-men, both Anglican and Roman, to be able to tolerate them.

6 comments:

El Codo said...

Ah Romanita....a tight ship is a happy ship,as they say in the Royal Navy.

Arthur L. Gallagher said...

If you look at the English used before Vatican II in most missals and prayer books, it was indeed written in a sacred style. As an example, the response to "Jesus meek and humble of heart" used to be "make our hearts like unto Thine" Now it appears as "help us to become like you" One wonders where all of the "Grant we beseech thee"s and the, thy and thou all went. Some of the translation from Latin were very good examples of English. One criticism might be that the translations from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Ligouri were much too literal, and imported an excessive number of double negatives, and other examples of the grand speaking style found in Italian.

Looking at my dad's missal, which he purchased in London in the 1950's, one wonders why the vernacular mass could not have simply used an existing translation.

Rose Marie said...

On Ash Wednesday, the priest used to intone: "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return." Perfect trochaic tetrameter and therefore memorable. Now we hear: "Remember you are dust and...." Uh, I forget the rest.

Pelerin said...

My daily missal of 1963 has the translations by Mgr Ronald Knox. Phrases such as 'Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord' and 'Therefore, most gracious Father, we humbly beg of Thee and entreat Thee' etc etc beautiful words which as Arthur L Gallagher has written above have disappeared.

When the response to the invocations is 'Lord we ask you hear our prayer' I always wonder why the word 'beg' was not used. Same number of syllables to sing and nearer in meaning to the word 'beseech.' Using the word 'ask' seems to imply 'excuse me God, if you have a bit of time to spare perhaps you could listen to my prayer' a big difference to 'beg.'

I always failed to understand why Mgr Knox's translation of the Mass was dispensed with. Accurate translations and dignified language replaced by ICEL's banal version.

Mike Hurcum said...

Mike Hurcum writes,
It would do some of you a great deal of good and help, if you read the original Jubilate Deo by Paul VIth. Not the latest gerry mandered follow ups. He laid out exactly what he wanted. It was published around the time he wrote no more changes the children are confused and the smoke of satan has entered the church. I will not give satan a capital letter to start. He is unadulterated filth.

Anon. said...

iambic tetrameter surely