Sunday, November 27, 2011

Change For Change's Sake

(non-Catholics may skip this post if they wish)

Since the summer we've had the new super-duper revised version of the English Catholic liturgy - and, if a Baptist who married in is allowed a say - it's a change for the worse. The Catholic Church managed to survive for the last 500 years with one rite worldwide - before the 1960s arrived and Latin went out of the window (I think I'd have liked that, although brought up on King James, seeing it not only as a religious rite but as an introduction to a great language - not to mention the convenience of the same service wherever in the world you were - but parishioners tell me that many Catholics didn't actually understand what most of the words meant).

Now, nearly fifty years on, it's being changed to apparently bring it closer in translation to the old Latin Mass.

Trouble is,

a) much of the new stuff is infelicitous - from "Through him, with him, in him", which can be sung or chanted, to "Through him, and with him, and in him" which is the kind of English you'd get chalked off for at A-level, let alone creative writing classs. Or "it is right to give him thanks and praise" to "it is right and just" - too terse and staccato. How about "of all that is, seen and unseen" to "of all that is, visible and invisible"? Don't know about you, but I understood it perfectly well as it was.

b) some is a total waste of time. How about from

"He suffered death and was buried
On the third day he rose again,
in accordance with the Scriptures"


"He suffered death and was buried
and rose again on the third day,
in accordance with the Scriptures"

I ask you, what was the point of that change ? Or changing "this is the Word of the Lord" to "the Word of the Lord", and "let us proclaim the mystery of faith" to "the mystery of faith" ? No change in meaning, some loss in euphony and poetic power.

c) changes which are frankly painful. From "begotten not made, of one being with the Father" to "begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father" ! Who uses 'consubstantial' in their conversation? Stupid word. I always detested those hymns which chucked in stuff like "consubstantial, co-eternal".

While I take the point that there could be a shade of meaning twixt one and the other, no one surely would take "of one being" to mean "absolutely 100% identical" ?

And as for the change from "when supper was ended, he took the cup - again he gave you thanks and praise" to "in a similar way ...." - what, did he use the same arm movements ? That is just awful.

I suppose it's better for the Catholic Bishops Conference* to be tinkering with the liturgy instead of campaigning for all the murderers and thieves to be let out. But it does strike me that they have too many people with too much time on their hands. Change for the sake of change. In that sense the English Catholic Church is indeed a twenty-first century organisation.

"Change and decay in all around I see
Oh Thou who changeth not, abide with me"

* does not apply to Scottish Catholic bishops, who seem to be made of sterner stuff.


staybryte said...

I agree Laban. The new translation is stilted and has lost a lot of its fluency. All for no apparent good reason.

Anonymous said...

"In 1380 John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English and immediately recognised the Papacy as the Antichrist. (See the preface to the King James Bible – the Papacy is called “that man of sin”.)

In 1519 Martin Luther first called the Pope the Antichrist and later wrote to Pope Leo X and with great boldness informed him that he, the Pope, was the Antichrist of that time. Not long after, Luther was notified of his ex-communication.

All the Reformers saw the Pope as the Antichrist. Among these many devout Christians we have John Calvin, John Ridley, Hugh Latimer, John Knox, John Bunyan, John Wesley, Dwight L. Moody, Charles H. Spurgeon, Dr. F.B.Meyer, Dr. Hudson Taylor, Dr. H.Grattan Guinness, Dr. Drinsdale Young, George Jeffreys and many others. These Reformers and Evangelists named the Papacy as the Antichrist, and stood in the Historicist camp."

Just wondered if you thought they were right or wrong Laban?

Recusant said...

Actually, Laban, it applies to all the English speaking world, not just England.

And for what it is worth, I think it agreat improvement ..... If we can't have Latin.

Anonymous said...

It has made a complete hash of the mass. Alterations obviously made by someone who has no poetry in his soul.
Don't know what Anonymous is blathering on about an Antichrist for. No one asked him.
Rod The Brit

Anonymous said...

It is something of a disappointment for me, returning to church after many years of absence, and finding that everything has been modernised in the vain hope of rendering it relevant to a politically correct, nihilistic world. I trip up in the Lord's Prayer, having to stop myself trespassing against the updated language.

Though everything is familiar, it is somehow not as beautiful, and perhaps therefore not as true. It seems the Roman Catholics now have the same problem, and like the C of E, the damage is all from within. What strange urge drives the bishops to vandalise their great asset? It is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

It's a valid question Rod.

paulilc said...

RC or CofE, both now seem to want to re-write their liturgies every generation - oblivious that it is always easier to destroy than to create. And the effect will be further falls in church attendance, as people find that what they learned as children has changed.

On a different tack, it is ironic that you are now more likely to hear a Latin Mass in an Anglican Cathedral than in a RC church.

Anon @ 2.36pm: You forgot to mention Ian Paisley, of course...

Anonymous said...

No I didn't paulilc. He wasn't one of the Reformers was he?

Laban said...

Wasn't there supposed to have been an apology printed in a Belfast paper, apologising after His Holiness was referred to as "his Satanic Majesty" ?

"It should of course have read 'The Roman AntiChrist'"

paulilc said...

Anon @ 7:40:

You are a very literal-minded soul. I was gently mocking your silly question. The late mediaeval Papacy could probably be justifiably labelled the Anti-Christ; but now such a view is one for foam-flecked posts by obsessives. As a Protestant, I have many criticisms of the Church of Rome; but being the Anti-Christ is not a plausible one.

Anonymous said...

Mock away paulilc. There are many who would disagree with you who do so without any foam being flecked. Walter Veith is one of them. His whole series of videos are very good but you could perhaps start at '205 - The Man Behind The Mask'. More detailed evidence is given in subsequent videos.

Here's just a tiny fraction of the others who would say that nothing has really changed where the Papacy is concerned.

Reactor said...

"Now, nearly fifty years on, it's being changed to apparently bring it closer in translation to the old Latin Mass."

Actually to bring it closer in translation to the official Latin text of the 'Novus Ordo' Mass promulgated by Paul VI in 1969.

The old Latin ('Tridentine') Mass is a different thing altogether.

Anonymous said...

Why does the antichrist have to be a person? Can't it be an idea?

If it is a person, then we have so many to choose from. Why single out the Pope? Why not Obama? Or any rich and powerful person?

But if it is an idea, then there is really only one candidate, and that is the idea that the real Christ is obsolete because mankind can now perfect the world. The antichrist is utopia - the idea that poisoned our civilisation while claiming to save it.

James Higham said...

What exactly was wrong with the KJV? 'Twas quite readable.

paulilc said...

Anon @ 10:57

Fruitcake stuff. The errors in Walter Veith's talk are legion...laughable rubbish. I suggest you check his 'facts'.

Anonymous said...

If they are 'legion' do you mind listing some?

Paulinus said...

Sorry. Laban, as a cradle Catholic I disagree. I agree that change for changes sake is a mistake and to be resisted and Catholics have had had rather too much change over the past 50 years. I know you read Fr Finigan's blog and I would urge you to follow the discussions there.

We have been short-changed by the 1970 translation. If the Church in her wisdom comes up with a liturgy, the normative language of which is Latin, then that requires accurate translation. It is not the job of translators to decide that "many" means "all". "Many" quite clearly does not mean "all", but I would suggest the translators had an agenda and didn't mind riding roughshod over the words of the Mass. Likewise, Domine nun sum dignus which was "Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed" is now rendered "Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed". This mirrors the words of the centurion to Christ in Matt 8:5-13. What was it about the 1970 translators that felt that we couldn't handle a biblical allusion? There is also a mnor pun in the 'roof' meaning roof of one's mouth with regard to the Host)

It might surprise Protestant readers to realise that much of the Mass is very biblical, and always has been. The Canon of the Mass has been in its current form, more or less, for 1600 years. The propers are all direct quotes from the Bible, the redaings, needless to say, are all from sacred cripture, the Common parts of the Mass (Kyrie, Sanctus,Agnus Dei etc) are simlarly all largely Biblical or biblical allusions.

The present Pontiff has a great regard for the English speaking world as is evidenced by his moves to take Anglican converts and preserve their Anglican patrimony (including elements of the BCP, KJV, Coverdale Psalms etc). Unthinkable in previous ages.

Language is key to the culture war within the Catholic Church and the hippies are losing. The seminaries in the and serving North America are full ( and the eminarians are of a very different stripe to the trendy priests of a previous age. Pope Benedict is tightening up of the liturgy is part of a whole straightening out. It will take another 20 years but the ship will right itself.

Believe me, you will grow to love the language when it becomes a deep part of you. Try the Latin - its even better whichever form you hear.

Any change is difficult, but the HF is pointing us in the right direction.

Sorry to witter on, but this stuff does matter.

paulilc said...

Anon @ 12.36:

Just sit down with some good reference books and access to the web, think critically and then begin to check his claims piecemeal...To get you started, his claims about the Heruli are largely wrong...Thomas Hobbes was not an historian but a materialist philosopher...and so on and on

Anonymous said...

paulilc, I asked for your list. Two is hardly legion.

According to Wikipedia.

"Hobbes also contributed to a diverse array of other fields, including history..."

Reports regarding the Heruli do vary so I'm sure I could find an alternative view if I tried.

Veith's videos are just a tiny fraction of the very good work that's been done regarding the Vatican and Papacy. The other links provided are a good place to start.

The biggest clue to the true nature of Rome is the (phallic) Egyptian obelisk, sacred to the sun god Ra, sitting on the feminine circle, itself surrounded by an eight pointed sun wheel aligned to the solstices and equinoxes.

It's all about the sun.

The conceit is that Rome was Christianised when in fact it was Christianity that was suitably adjusted to appeal to the pagan population.

Hugh Oxford said...

I'm still undecided.

It certainly isn't as radical as the abandonment of the Latin mass.

I would bring back the Latin mass, across the world.

Then I could go to any corner of the globe and feel involved.

Martin said...


With all respect to my good friend Paulinus, what got me was the use of the word 'consubstantial' tio replace 'of one being'; to my mind an unnecessary change which reeks of High Table pseudery