15 April 2004

The New Missal

Last Monday I had a meeting with my academic advisor to talk about my classes for next year. My advisor also happens to be our Schola director, who runs the Gregorian chant Mass here. When we were finished discussing class stuff, he asked me if I would like to see a copy of the draft of the new English translation of the Missal.

I'm still not entirely sure why he showed it to me, or even why he had it, but he told me that this was the draft the bishops had just gotten to look at and approve (or not). I looked through it a bit. There were some odd notes about the translation written on a few pages which I asked him about--he said they had been written by a monsignor whose name I don't recall. Some of the notes seemed silly to me. The draft had facing pages of Latin and English, and even I, a first-year Latin student, could see that some of the question-marked words were pretty accurate. The only question-marked word which might have gone either way was in the Confiteor; the Latin word nimis was translated "exceedingly." There was a note next to it which said "excessively?" Now, both are acceptable translations of nimis according to my Latin dictionary, but they have different connotations in English. "Exceedingly" seems to mean more like "greatly," while "excessively" has the connotation of "too much." I think "exceedingly" was a better choice, and I hope it isn't altered.

Time was short, so I didn't get to look at it thoroughly, but for the most part I liked what I saw. The translations seem to be closer to the original. Some people have complained about the use of language, saying that it does not resemble what we use in ordinary speech, but I don't see that as a problem. The Mass should influence our culture, not vice versa. The sentence structures in the Latin tend to be complex, and this time around, this has not been sacrificed in translation. The current translation has chopped it up into short little sentences, but next time, hopefully, the sentence structure will be of higher complexity than the writing of a reasonably bright fifth-grader.

I confess I didn't look much at the Ordinaries. As Dr. Schaefer pointed out, "I don't care about the translation of the Ordinaries. We sing them in Latin anyway."

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