Friday, August 1, 2008

And with your spirit

Recently the Catholic church took the first step to reverse some of the most of the prominent liturgical errors of the 1970s, as embodied by the PECUSA Rite II service of its 1979 prayer book. It also offers a path forward for at least some Continuing Anglicans.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT) — later allied with the International Consultation on English Texts (ICET) — brought us the modernized paraphrases of the ancient liturgy. So (among other examples), the Latin translated from 1662-1928 as “And with thy spirit” became “And also with you.”

On July 25, Catholic News Service reported that the Vatican has approved a new translation for a subset of the Mass:
In 2001 the Vatican issued new rules requiring liturgical translations to follow the original Latin more strictly and completely -- a more literal translation approach called formal equivalence. The resulting new translation adheres far more closely to the normative Latin text issued by the Vatican.
From the 2001 charge for a more accurate translation from the “vernacular,” the English version was taken on by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, representing the national conference of bishops in 11 English-speaking countries.

Under the approved change, the “thy” becomes “your,” i.e. “And with your spirit.” The Nicene Creed again begins with “I believe” and the “God of power and might” has been banished from the Sanctus.

The change will take effect in a few years, allowing time for changes to musical settings. (Why? Can’t they use the setting for “And with thy spirit”?)

Other parts of the Latin rite still need an updated translation. Earlier in July, US bishops rejected the 2nd installment of the ineffable translation (OK, that's a stretch) of the Roman Missal; a revote is planned. The goal is to finish the entire translation by 2010.

What impact will this have on Protestant liturgy? The CCT is hopelessly en thrall to the liberal mainline denominations (think NRSV). Will the Anglo-Catholics use this, stick with the 1928 BCP, or revert to the 1662 BCP used elsewhere in the world? Will the evangelicals among the Continuing Anglicans use these modernized (but faithful) translations — or widely adopt the Toonian 1662 rendition? Stay tuned.


Leland Bryant Ross said...

When you say "From the 2001 charge for a more accurate translation from the “vernacular,” the English version was taken on by the ICEL …

Under the approved change, the “thy” becomes “your,” i.e. “And with your spirit.”

I am not sure what you mean. Surely it is a more accurate translation from the Latin into the vernacular that the Vatican desires to enforce. But how eliminating from the English the singular/plural distinction of thy/your can be called more "accurate" when the Latin tuo/vobis maintains the distinction I don't see. It may be more current, more colloquial, more normal, more usual, more readily understandable... but more accurate? No.

Leland aka Haruo
Baptist layman and hymnnut

9.West said...

I would certainly agree that the issue of the singular vs. plural "you" is an important one. My point is "and with your spirit" improves upon the the previous translation: "and also with you." In the new version, "you" is ambiguously singular or plural but the lack of "spirit" is clearly inaccurate.