USCCB Purchases Translation of Psalms and Canticles from Conception Abbey
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 202
    July 16, 2019

    WASHINGTON--On July 1, 2019 the USCCB purchased the copyrights to the Revised Grail Psalter and the Old and New Testament Canticles translated by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri. The two texts will now together be titled Abbey Psalms and Canticles and will gradually be incorporated into the Church’s official liturgical books. These sacred texts play an important role in the public prayer of the Church, especially in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the readings for Mass.

    For over two decades, the bishops have sought a translation of the psalms and canticles that would be more accurate and more conducive to singing and recitation. Since at least 1998 the monks of Conception Abbey have been working to prepare translations that would meet these goals. The USCCB first approved the monks’ translation of the psalter in 2008, and the Holy See then approved that text in 2010. In June 2015 the USCCB approved Conception Abbey’s translation of the canticles, hymn-like passages from the Bible that are used on certain occasions in the liturgy. The bishops subsequently approved a revised version of the psalter in 2016. In May 2018 the Holy See approved both the psalter and the canticles in what should now be their definitive form.

    Abbot Gregory Polan, the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, was Abbot of Conception Abbey for nearly twenty years and coordinated the preparation of the Abbey Psalms and Canticles. “It is my sincere hope,” he commented, “that this translation of the Psalms and Biblical Canticles will be a source of spiritual nourishment for the liturgy and the private prayer of all who use them.” The USCCB is grateful for the exceptional service that the monks of Conception Abbey have provided to the Church by their work.

    Since 2010 many composers have prepared their own settings of these Psalms for use in the liturgy, and some of the more recently-published liturgical books have already begun incorporating material from the new translations. The Abbey Psalms and Canticles will begin to see a wider dissemination in the coming years, especially when new editions of the Lectionary for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are completed.

    In purchasing these copyrights, the bishops are following the guidelines of the Holy See’s Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, which requires that a Conference of Bishops possess all the rights necessary to promote and safeguard the accurate and appropriate use of the texts of the Sacred Liturgy.

    http://www.usccb.org/news/2019/19-132.cfm
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • MarkB
    Posts: 263
    But is GIA still the worldwide agent? Just that the USCCB is now the owner?
    Thanked by 2Salieri BruceL
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    Yes, it would be good to have a clarification [edit: from the USCCB] on that matter regarding copyright. (It would be better for USCCB to own the copyright than GIA--Why should an individual publishing firm own the rights to prescribed liturgical texts that all publishers are required to use?)
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 202
    I have no further information beyond what is contained in the article.

    All I can say is I don’t know for what I should hope.

    ...Spiritus adiuvat infirmitatem nostram nam quid oremus sicut oportet nescimus sed ipse Spiritus postulat pro nobis gemitibus inenarrabilibus...
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,516
    There are a couple of further questions here: https://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2019/07/18/usccb-now-owns-the-revised-grail-psalter/
    And some useful background here from Paul Inwood.
    Thanked by 1Paul F. Ford
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 799
    This is not good news. I have prayed this version for a few years and I continue to stumble over infelicities in translation. Anyone who has regularly prayed the original Grail will wince at the contortions the Conception Abbey version inflicts on verses in order to avoid the use of male pronouns. And the revised translation does not scan the way the old version does.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,006
    +1 to Dr. Ford's comments. The psalms of ascent in particular are wooden and extremely unattractive. I was very disappointed, to the point that I usually consult all the permissible translations if I have to set something for the responsorial psalm.
    Thanked by 2irishtenor CHGiffen
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 101
    I wonder if the USCCB will lock it down and deny free usage the way they have the catholic translation of the Bible. There are many apps that want to reference the official translation (modern English) but can't because the USSCB doesn't allow free use. Back to Douay-Rheims for me...
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Dr. Ford,

    I was afraid of inclusive language in the Grail, even years ago, so if the new one "inflicts" (good word) this curse even more aggressively I am glad of two things: 1) I will never be required to use the Grail Psalter and 2) I have access to the Traditional Form of the Mass.

    On the other hand, for the amusement of the readership here, as an undergraduate I put together a replacement for the simple word "man" with the help of a much more progressively minded school chum. Here it is, improved slightly over the years.

    man
    mankind
    humankind
    hupersonkind
    huperchildkind
    phyllperchildkind (to avoid "hugh")
    phyllperdescendantindifferent (child sound so....cudly) (kind sounds so... judgmental)
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 683
    Meanwhile, nobody--NOBODY--seems to be questioning the whole purchase/copyright/control of liturgical texts, which I find unconscionable.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 101
    Well, I certainly alluded to it. I agree. It should be free access and usage to all. People complain about “locking bibles down” in the medieval ages and yet the stingy rights control by the usccb seems eminently worse to me.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,884
    ...in the middle ages...
    This is a well-worn trope of some Protestants, how that Bibles were chained to pulpits so that no one could read them. Actually, they were chained to pulpits because they were quite valuable and were often stolen by those who had no interest in reading them, but were rather keen on profiting from their gold- and precious stone-encrusted covers. LIkewise, books in libraries were routinely chained to desks and shelves to prevent theft.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,516
    Richard R. - if copyright means charging money for access, then I agree, that is as pernicious as charging for access to a church service. But I do think the church has a right, indeed a duty, to control the texts "lex orandi lex credendi" or as St Prosper actually said "so that the law of prayer may establish (build up) the law of belief"
    ... in omni catholica Ecclesia uniformiter celebrantur, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,901
    “locking bibles down” in the medieval ages
    Much later than that, in fact. My schoolmate's mother was severely scolded by her French priest for the crime of taking a peek inside during the 1940's and told never to do that again.
  • Richard,

    I have the perhaps unfounded suspicion that there's more to the story than your simple retelling of it would otherwise suggest.
    Thanked by 2Incardination tomjaw
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 81
    Dr. Ford et all:

    ...which is why it is good 1) when talking about personal/private/non-liturgical use, to ignore most newer translations (unless they are legitimate and faithful to the Latin/Hebrew/Greek/whatever original translations) and stick to the traditional translations, and 2) when talking about Liturgical use (though can be used for non-liturgical as well obviously), learn to pray/sing the Psalms in Latin as the Church has almost always done!!! :-)
    Thanked by 2francis tomjaw
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,906
    One catch is that Liturgiam authenticam actually directs that liturgical texts be owned or at least licensed by the bishops conference in a way that allows it complete freedom to revise, correct, and re-publish the text:
    117. The rights of publication and the copyright for all translations of liturgical books, or at least the rights in civil law necessary for exercising complete liberty in publishing or correcting texts, is to remain with the Conferences of Bishops or their national liturgical Commissions.[81] The same body shall possess the right of taking any measures necessary to prevent or correct any improper use of the texts.

    Perhaps there are situations in which a bishops' conference adopted some text owned by another party and later either the conference or Rome decided that some modification was needed. In normal circumstances, the conference would not have the automatic right to publish its own modified version.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,906
    My schoolmate's mother was severely scolded by her French priest for the crime of taking a peek inside during the 1940's and told never to do that again.

    He must not have known that Pope Leo XIII urged the faithful to read Scripture in his encyclical Providentissimus Deus (1893), and in 1898 he established the granting of indulgences to people who read Scripture: even plenary if people read 15 minutes a day for a month.
  • ....or he wished such a naughty school girl to gain no indulgences?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,901
    Another of the well-worn Protestant tropes is that Catholics are part of some monolith. I wasn't there myself, but that's not sufficient reason to impugn an informant who says that in mid-20 C Nîmes unsupervised Bible-reading was frowned upon throughout her entire youth.

    A less distant data point is my weekly experience (following lengthy service in Anglican, Lutheran & Methodist churches with a 1:1 hymnal to pew-Bible ratio) of not having anything easily to hand when I want to check the context of excerpted Lectionary Psalm verses, except when I'm at home.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen a_f_hawkins
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 683
    Besides the money and/or permission issue, my prime concern is for the stability of liturgical texts. I realize that was not even possible with the Latin, but it has been especially tumultuous with English. Composers of my generation, faithfully rendering the official English texts, have been through the cycle several times already, and multiple Psalm translations does not help the process, if only because someone will want a different version than I've set already. And because cantors and directors seem to be getting less competent at reading from pointed texts, we have to re-engrave verses over and over again--a hellish process, no matter what program you are using.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 374
    I contacted the press office of the USCCB for further clarification, and was told the definitive versions are "close to what GIA published, but there are significant differences", and they'll be published "before long". Unfortunately, they denied my request for a preview copy for review -_-

    @ Paul F. Ford, et alia, if you have any explicit examples that would be easy to check, I'd like to look into it. I don't disbelieve you, but I heard the same thing leveled against the NABRE for "inclusive language" when the Greek term in question was genderless. Not that substituting "human" for "man" or some such is necessarily felicitous from a poetic standpoint, but I'm waiting to see what the "significant differences" from the Revised Grail Psalms look like before I pass judgment. From what I've read, many of the revisions were made for improved style and ease of singing.
  • NeilWeston
    Posts: 13
    I contacted the press office of the USCCB for further clarification, and was told the definitive versions are "close to what GIA published, but there are significant differences"


    That's really too bad for those parishes that have bought new GIA hymnals with the readings included, on the assumption that the translation of the psalter would be the one to be used going forward.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • Caleferink
    Posts: 297
    That's really too bad for those parishes that have bought new GIA hymnals with the readings included, on the assumption that the translation of the psalter would be the one to be used going forward.

    How about ritual books that have already been published since 2010, like the Order of Celebrating Matrimony?
    Thanked by 2Vilyanor irishtenor
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 230
    Music aside, there is a spiritual benefit in consistency, as it allows people to memorize prayers (including psalms) and pass them on to their children. The constant disruption of the liturgy with endless revisions makes that depth of intimacy much more difficult.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 374
    It's a difficult tension to balance between providing a better translation over one that's particularly flawed, versus consistency. To an extent, there are always such trade-offs because human language and art is ultimately insufficient to encapsulate the overflowing plenitude of the word of God through which the Word of God reveals himself to us. On the one hand, it might be more difficult to memorize, but on the other, a better translation might lead to a deeper encounter with the prayer of the Church. I'm glad at least that the translations keep the line of the Grail psalms. Having prayed the LotH for many years, the Revised Grail Psalms feel familiar in spite of the revisions, which are often improvements, though not always. I hope the new revisions are further improvements. Hopefully translations will slow in the future, as the monumental work of retranslating the LotH and the remaining ritual books draws to a close, but it's always a process, the Liturgy has never truly been uniform or constant, not from the very beginning, it's truly diverse both in place and time.
    Thanked by 1NeilWeston
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    This whole translation thing reminds me of the history of the BCP: Several different editions promulgated from the Reformation until 1661, then remaining unchanged until Lambeth approved experimental "contemporary liturgies" in the mid-to-late 20th century. Hopefully our "1661" will come along in the next few years, and we won't need to change anything for a few centuries. (I hope, though I doubt.)
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 799
    @ Paul F. Ford, et alia, if you have any explicit examples that would be easy to check, I'd like to look into it


    Psalm 150
    Alleluia!
    Praise God in the holy temple;
    praise the Lord in the mighty firmament.
    Praise God for powerful deeds;
    for boundless grandeur, praise God.

    O praise the Lord with sound of trumpet;
    give praise with lute and harp.
    Praise God with timbrel and dance;
    give praise with strings and pipes.

    O praise God with resounding cymbals;
    give praise with clashing of cymbals.
    Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
    Alleluia!

    Psalm 100
    Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Serve the Lord with gladness.
    Come before God, singing for joy.

    Know that the Lord is God,
    who made us, to whom we belong.
    We are God’s people, the sheep of God’s flock.

    Enter the temple gates with thanksgiving
    and its courts with songs of praise.
    Give thanks and bless God’s name.

    Indeed, how good is the Lord,
    eternal God’s merciful love.
    God is faithful from age to age.
    Thanked by 3Liam Salieri BruceL
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    I suppose that is a good reason to start chanting the Graduals...

    Those are rather clunky and unattractive translations, I must say.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 202
    I do not, for the life of me, understand why we can’t just use the RSV[CE]. This psalter is found in the ‘79 BCP and the various Lutheran hymnals, and has been used successfully with Anglican chants and plainsong for forty years now.

    I use it in the NO when appending verses to Communion antiphons, at a time in the Mass when the GIRM could care less if we append verses from the Nova Vulgata or leave out the chant entirely and go straight into “One Bread, One Body.” The translation could be less 70s in places, but for actually reflecting what the text says and being intelligible to anglophones, it’s head-and-shoulders above the Grail in its million reincarnations.

    For comparison to the excerpts Dr. Ford so kindly shared:

    Psalm 150

    Hallelujah!
    Praise God in his holy temple; *praise him in the firmament of his power.

    2 Praise him for his mighty acts; * praise him for his excellent greatness.

    3 Praise him with the blast of the ram's-horn; * praise him with lyre and harp.

    4 Praise him with timbrel and dance; * praise him with strings and pipe.

    5 Praise him with resounding cymbals; * praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.

    6 Let everything that has breath * praise the Lord. Hallelujah!



    Psalm 100
    Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands; * serve the LORD with gladness and come before his presence with a song.

    2 Know this: The LORD himself is God * he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

    3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise; * give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

    4 For the LORD is good;
    his mercy is everlasting; * and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

    The whole thing: https://www.bcponline.org/Psalter/the_psalter.html
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,884
    ...clunky and unattractive..
    Clunky indeed. And artless. And, unlike Coverdale (or Gamba's RSV[CE], hardly singable to the Gregorian tones or Anglican chant..
    You know that PC-ness was foremost in mind when reading such phrases as 'We are God's people, the sheep of God's flock', the second 'God's' being a very obvious ploy to avoid the masculine pronoun 'his' which would be spoken (and/or even thought) in normal speech in that context. Such fetishes are comically obvious and tedious. At least they avoided the more likely current and even more comical usage of 'We are God's people, the sheep of Their flock'. The really natural form would be 'We are God's people, the sheep of His flock', but the PC police (and those in paranoid fear of them) have won again.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw francis
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    I do not, for the life of me, understand why we can’t just use the RSV[CE]. This psalter is found in the ‘79 BCP and the various Lutheran hymnals, and has been used successfully with Anglican chants and plainsong for forty years now.

    Indeed. You'd think that with the emphasis on ecumenism over the past few decades, having a common text of the Psalter would have been a priority in the choice of translation. (And using the RSV text would have the added benefit that I could use my Church Pension Fund "Anglican Chant Psalter".)

    Hopefully the final version of the USCCB/Grail/Abbey Psalms, which, as Vilyanor mentioned, will have, according to USCCB, "significant differences" from what was published by GIA, won't be as PC as what Dr. Ford posted.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,100
    I use the RSV (CE) also. I gave up on the official translation some time ago.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,546
    @CatherineS
    Music aside, there is a spiritual benefit in consistency, as it allows people to memorize prayers (including psalms) and pass them on to their children. The constant disruption of the liturgy with endless revisions makes that depth of intimacy much more difficult.

    You may suggest that this is a bug, but I suspect that for the disruptors it is a feature.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 766
    You may suggest that this is a bug, but I suspect that for the disruptors it is a feature.

    Whatever the intention, the effect is the same.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 230
    It came to mind when my mother took comfort in reciting some psalms her mother taught her as a child. She hasn't been to church since her teens and is now 75. But those prayers are kept in her heart.
    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • drforjc
    Posts: 20
    I am not seeing Dr. Ford's neutered translation on the GIA Revised Grail online.

  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 799
    I am not seeing Dr. Ford's neutered translation on the GIA Revised Grail online.


    It's available in Give Us This Day https://giveusthisday.org/#book/
  • drforjc
    Posts: 20
    Did you go to the GIA website? They have the Revised Grail online. It matches the paperback copy that I purchased from them some years ago which is this:

    Psalm 150
    1 Alleluia!

    Praise God in his holy place;

    praise him in his mighty firmament.

    2 Praise him for his powerful deeds;

    praise him for his boundless grandeur.

    3 O praise him with sound of trumpet;

    praise him with lute and harp.

    4 Praise him with timbrel and dance;

    praise him with strings and pipes.

    5 O praise him with resounding cymbals;

    praise him with clashing of cymbals.

    6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!

    Alleluia!

    Psalm 100
    1 Cry out with joy to the LORD, all the earth.

    2 Serve the LORD with gladness.

    Come before him, singing for joy.

    3 Know that he, the LORD, is God.

    He made us; we belong to him.

    We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

    4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving

    and his courts with songs of praise.

    Give thanks to him, and bless his name.

    5 Indeed, how good is the LORD,

    eternal his merciful love.

    He is faithful from age to age.

    I suspect the giveusthisday version has been neutered by that publication.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 202
    Drforjc,

    I was under the impression that in the intervening years, the USCCB has tinkered further with the Revised Grail, and we will be getting this Further-Revised-Revised-Grail.
    Thanked by 1Paul F. Ford
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 799
    I suspect the giveusthisday version has been neutered by that publication.


    The acknowledgements say: "The Ecumenical Grail Psalter. Copyright © 2015, Conception Abbey/The Grail, admin. by GIA Publications, Inc., www.giamusic.com. All rights reserved."
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,906
    I get the impression from GIA's description of The Ecumenical Grail Psalter that it was developed for non-Catholic communities who wanted a "more inclusive text" than the version approved by the USCCB:
    https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/the-ecumenical-grail-psalter-book-g9089
    The description doesn't say that the USCCB (or CDWDS) approved this 2015 version.

    It's disappointing if the Abbey really granted permission for the text to be edited according to some misguided ideology. That would give the USCCB a good reason to want to own the copyrights itself and prevent any more such poor decisions.
    Thanked by 1drforjc
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,884
    This was surely intended to elicit laughter, was it not?
    Such an utter lack of poetic imagination would be well nigh impossible to find elsewhere.

    To wit, such lines as these -
    Praise him for his boundless grandeur.
    and
    He made us, we belong to him.
    or
    O praise him with resounding cymbals
    and most any other line.
    Blurt, blurt, clunk, clunk.
    When blessed cursed with such a literary genius as this who needs Coverdale or RSV?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 374
    I'm not sure I see the RSV's "praise him for his excellent greatness" or "praise him with loud-clanging cymbals" as any better, and they might actually be worse. "he himself has made us, and we are his" is an improvement, if a bit wordy, but the lines themselves might not be especially conducive to English.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,884
    ...a bit wordy...
    It does take words and syllables to sing the psalter to the Gregorian tones or to Anglican chant, or, to sing it at all. One, one!, of the problems with Grail lies precisely in its clunky and determined lack of the marks of poetic language and singable prose, namely, of gracious language, colourful verbiage, and a generous and imaginative use of syllables, all of which are partisans of an engaging, singable rhythm. Language without grace and colour can hardly be more advanced than what cavespeak must have been like.
    Thanked by 2irishtenor Vilyanor
  • Caleferink
    Posts: 297
    I get the impression from GIA's description of The Ecumenical Grail Psalter that it was developed for non-Catholic communities who wanted a "more inclusive text" than the version approved by the USCCB:

    But then GIA uses this "Ecumenical" version throughout the Psalter section in the front of RitualSong 2 for all the chant-style selections in there (Gelineau, Guimont, or otherwise). Maybe it was "developed for non-Catholic communities," but they're certainly fine with hoisting it on Catholic ones as well.
  • drforjc
    Posts: 20
    I doubt the Ecumenical version would be the final approved version going forward. The magnitude of those changes would likely be enough to nullify the approval that was granted initially. And given that various submissions for vertical inclusive language texts have failed before, I think this one would fail as well.
  • drforjc
    Posts: 20
    Found this article in the USCCB Liturgy newsletter in 2015. Note the bold face text. "Additional corrections" does not sound like a wholesale change to vertical inclusive language: Revised Grail Psalms
    The source of the Psalmody in the present English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours is the Grail Psalms, a
    Psalter long noted for its poetic qualities and for its consistently metrical translations, which greatly facilitate both
    singing and common recitation. In November 2008, the Bishops of the USCCB approved a revised version of
    these Psalms, called the Revised Grail Psalms (RGP), as the official Psalter for use in future liturgical texts,
    including the Liturgy of the Hours. The RGP, with some corrections, was confirmed by the Holy See in 2010.
    Additional corrections and adjustments were proposed and approved by the USCCB in November 2014, and are
    being prepared for submission to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for
    the requisite confirmation.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,906
    GIA uses this "Ecumenical" version throughout the Psalter section in the front of RitualSong 2 for all the chant-style selections in there

    I wouldn't say "all", since the on-line sample PDF for that book shows some settings with the approved RGP text.

    But GIA is well aware that the EGP psalms are not licit for use at Mass, since that sampler booklet includes this fig leaf: "These texts are especially useful for celebrations outside of the Liturgy of the Word."

    They really can't expect anyone to believe that they put these non-approved texts in their hymnal -- however many times -- with the intention that they not be used at Mass.

    Moreover, the book also includes psalm versions that are paraphrases written by individuals, and these texts should not be labeled as "Psalm 100" or whatever, as though they were authentic, useable texts.
    Thanked by 2drforjc CHGiffen
  • Caleferink
    Posts: 297
    I wouldn't say "all", since the on-line sample PDF for that book shows some settings with the approved RGP text.

    I have the whole book sitting on my desk. The "lyrical" ones from the likes of Alonso et. al. that care enough to use official texts do in fact use the approved RGP. The Gelineau- or Guimont-based ones, like the one in the sampler, "My Shepherd Is the Lord," etc. use the "ecumenical" version. And of course we're all aware of the paraphrases masquerading as actual Psalm texts.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 202
    And of course we're all aware of the paraphrases masquerading as actual Psalm texts.


    Aka the RGP....
    Thanked by 1Schönbergian