English Translation of the Proper Antiphons
  • Reinpold
    Posts: 1
    Can anyone tell me when the Introit, Offertory, and Communion antiphons were translated into English? I know they came out in Latin in the Graduale Romanum and Graduale Simplex, but were either of these translated to English when the Novus Ordo was introduced? Or was Vatican II's intent to have the antiphons still sung in Latin when the new translation came out?
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,156
    The question reflects some misapprehensions about the sequence of events in the recent history of the rites. A clear short answer is impossible.

    However, two things can be said.

    One, the English Sacramentary was approved by the Holy See in November 1973. There were provisional and partial translations but this is the official start.

    Two, the antiphons of the Novus missal (“Sacramentary”), even in Latin, were intended for reciting, not singing. The Graduale was to be used if the antiphons were to be sung. Of course it was already permitted and commonplace to not sing or say them, but to replace them with vernacular songs whose texts were (and are) not part of the liturgy.
    Thanked by 1Reinpold
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 756
    To complicate matters further, the Ordinariates have authorised English translations of these texts in Divine Worship, intended for singing. The extent to which celebrations of the Mass of Paul VI can licitly employ these or other translations for singing seems to be a matter of discussion.
  • Marc Cerisier
    Posts: 516
    The GS was translated to English (it’s what Paul Ford used for By Flowing Water). The translation should be easy enough to find here or on Google.

    To the translations found in the Missal… I’ve never really understood why so much negativity is shown to singing them—even is that wasn’t the intention. If you can sing Here I Am, Lord, how could it be worse to sing the “spoken” antiphon? But maybe I’m just crazy…
  • lmassery
    Posts: 404
    According to the forward for both the Gregorian Missal and the Simple English Propers, the English translation for the antiphons therein is provided by Solesmes Abbey. The translation of the Missal texts are ICEL. My understanding is that there is no “Vatican” translation of the Graduale propers.

    It’s true that the missal texts were originally intended as the spoken version, but I think we can move past that description and accept that they are now intended to be sung. If you doubt me, simply read the forward to the Roman Missal Antiphonary linked here.

    Thanked by 2hilluminar Reinpold
  • Also of interest is the "Processional" from the Society of Saint Gregory.
    There is a link there for their version of an antiphonary, which includes the Offertory Antiphons.
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • Some may find it interesting to compare the translations of various texts as they appeared in the failed ICEL Sacramentary. We are supposed to keep the web address a well kept secret. There, it is entitled "Antiphonal." Others have found them lacking.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 408
    The only complete official translation of the propers is found in the "interim" 1965 Roman Missal, available at CCWatershed here. For some propers (tracts and alleluias for example), this is the only official translation that has ever been produced. Some argue that it therefore remains the official translation until it is superseded.
    Thanked by 1Reinpold
  • davido
    Posts: 872
    Isn’t the “official” vs “unofficial” concern just a way to get around pastors and parishioners who dislike tradition and don’t want there to be chant? “This is the official text, so it would be better to sing this than Here I Am Lord.”

    The fact is, all of the “official” translations from the 1964 missal to the current one are mightily flawed, and frequently paraphrase texts rather than actually translating them. Grammatical tenses are simplified, ideas are left out (especially in ‘64), and other words are changed for no reason. Even a non-Latin reader can tell that “qui tollis peccata mundi” is who takes away the sins of the world, not “you” take away the sins of the world.
    Compare Antiphon translations between the Bible edition used in the Gregorian Missal and the Roman Missal.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,368
    Marc Cerisier the directive in the Missal that the Entrance and Communion Antiphons there are intended for reading when they are not sung is in the Latin edition to ensure that if sung they are sung to traditional Gregorian chants and texts (that is that they are NOT to be set to neo-gregorian melodies). I think it was not intended for the vernacular editions. Bugnini describes the secondary purpose of the spoken antiphons as being to inspire the composition of suitable vernacular texts. I would add that Kathy Pluth's Introit hymns and the extensive output by Luke Massery are examples of what was intended.
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,935
    "Even a non-Latin reader can tell that “qui tollis peccata mundi” is who takes away the sins of the world, not “you” take away the sins of the world."

    Because that usage is archaic in English. It's not even merely a higher register of English. It's an instance where literalism prudently yielded to idiomatic usage.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,932
    Nah. It’s just people who are… well. Notice how all of the describing to God what he is or does parts got removed from the orations of the Mass.

    As to whether there is doubt: the American rubrics explicitly authorize using these in chanted form. The rubrics of other English-speaking countries don’t. Maybe they should. Maybe they shouldn’t.

    I don’t think that the concern is a way to get around people (whether one is for or against any kind of chant). Or to put it another way: it’s not only a matter of bad faith.
  • davido
    Posts: 872
    Liam, isn’t it a subordinate clause? Are you saying that a subordinate clause is archaic?
    It’s not idiomatic to replace “who” with “you.” It’s fake translating.
    Thanked by 2trentonjconn IanW
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 536
    Nothing archaic about saying "The guy who stole my car is a criminal".
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,935
    That is third person. We don't use it in English in direct second person address without "you". And "you, who" in liturgy is a howler for a repeated text. If we hear a sentence starting "[Name/Title} who . . . ] in our usage, we immediately assume third person, not second person.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,368
    qui tollis = you who raise (Google)
    it is not colloquial to express this as "who raise", but it is correct,
    OTOH "who raises" or "who takes away" is bad translation, for which Pell etc. (or whoever worked in the name of Una Voce) are to be condemned.
  • davido
    Posts: 872
  • DL
    Posts: 70
    The preface for the passion being used this week (de virtute Crucis) is classic ICEL Vogon poetry.
  • CantorCole
    Posts: 24

    Can you explain what you mean by "Notice how all of the describing to God what he is or does parts got removed from the orations of the Mass."?
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,932
    Yeah so in the 1970s translation, they made a habit of saying “God, you…” and then they got rid of that, replacing these phrases with the correct relative clauses. Now you may object and say that most of these are past perfect constructions or whatever we wish to call that in English, but as I said above, the second-person relative clause with “who” is still understood. There’s something wrong about telling God directly what he does.

    E.g. the 26th Sunday per annum.

    Old here.
  • afhawkins:

    "Marc Cerisier the directive in the Missal that the Entrance and Communion Antiphons there are intended for reading when they are not sung is in the Latin edition to ensure that if sung they are sung to traditional Gregorian chants and texts (that is that they are NOT to be set to neo-gregorian melodies). I think it was not intended for the vernacular editions."

    By this logic, the Byrd Gradualia, Isaac Choralis Constantinus, Palestrina and Lassus Offertories, and everything else proper, including the James MacMillan communion motets should not be used liturgically!

    Like Marc, I've never understood the need to be rigid about the missal antiphons. They are sacred texts assigned by the Church to various times (a high percentage are just translations of the Graduale proper), and clearly either the latin texts themselves or worthy translations are fair game for the composition of new antiphons or sacred polyphony. With everything else going on in Church music, why on earth would anyone worry about this? Worst case scenario, they are "another suitable song."

  • Liam
    Posts: 4,935
    Matthew: O God Who Takes vs God Who Take

    "O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us" wasn't on offer in the re-translation, it appears. "Lamb of God, who take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us" ultimately was tweaked idiomatically for prudent reasons.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,368
    Perhaps I expressed it clumsily. The objective is to preserve intact the treasury of Gregorian chant. That includes not touching the texts of the propers and not composing neo-gregorian tunes for new texts. The issue of polyphony was settled at Trent, and endorsed at VII. But the spoken antiphons in the missal are generally based on the Latin of the Neo-vulgata (I think) and writing neo-gregorian melodies for them in Latin is to be avoided.
    Thanked by 1Paul F. Ford
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,932
    Yeah, I figured that someone would object about the conjugation ending and therefore perhaps the person, but I wonder if there’s actual some variation (because the form without “s” sounds wrong), and the “O” is nice but not necessary in a vocative. It’s not even particularly latinate.

    But the conjugation ending wasn’t the complaint. It was the nature of the relative clause…
  • afhawkins

    I am all about preserving and using the Gregorian chants, too. But the question of this thread was regarding English translations of the proper texts. And from that perspective, I'd say the Missal antiphons in English are fair game. Again, the worst possible case is that they are some kind of near-proper "other suitable song", and there's nothing wrong with that. I object to the position that no one should ever sing those texts in English.
    Thanked by 1Roborgelmeister
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 966
    It is indeed true that the Latin texts of the introit and communion antiphons in the Missale Romanum were devised for read Masses, while at the same time the Gregorian chants from the Graduale Romanum and Graduale Simplex were envisioned for sung Masses.

    I don't know when the first English translation of the antiphons from the 1974 Graduale Romanum came out. Maybe the translation of the Gregorian Missal was one of the first? I know that the Lumen Christi Missal (2012) had newly translated texts of the antiphons from the Graduale Romanum, matching the style of The Roman Missal, third edition.
  • davido
    Posts: 872
    I think it is being very generous to say that the Missal Antiphons were for read masses while the Graduale was for sung masses. I think this is an idea that was devised after the fact as an explanation for the ridiculous Novus Ordo system that had been created.
    I think what happened was, the missal was put together by people who didn’t care what the tradition was and who had no care or thought for the Gregorian chant. Each part of the mass was devised by a different committee who where not working with any other committees. No one cared that the mass as it had developed was an organic whole and that the chant was an integral part of that whole.
    After the new mass was invented, someone said oh, the old chants won’t work now, we need to reassign all the Gregorian chants to a 3 year cycle. But by that point, the missal was done.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,932
    Perhaps, but the rubrics are clear, and they have not revised this except by (grudgingly?) granting an indult to the US. So it suggests that both are sort of true: they explicitly meant for these texts to only be read, but they also did not think to revise the assignment of Gregorian propers.
  • At least some of the Missal Antiphons that do not correspond to the Graduale DO correspond to the the Graduale Simplex.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,935
    I have no sense that the US adaptation of the GIRM in this regard was at all grudging in the many years of discussions over the revised Missal. If anything was grudging, it was on the part of people like Paul Inwood who was aggrieved by the adaptation and appeared to resent that it allowed the composition of music that could be and was used in lieu of hymns - as it turned out, especially in the first year of the pandemic when congregational singing was restricted and congregations were rather suddenly exposed to the use of chants in lieu of hymns on a scale that had not been witnessed in decades.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen