The Magnificat - using Anglican BCP translation in the Divine Office?
  • In order for anyone here to attempt to answer the question I have, I am obliged to explain the circumstances which surround the question. Otherwise it would leave many confused.

    Here is the situation:

    I have already created 6 bi-lingual latin-english vespers booklets for the secular extraordinary form of the office. Other than a few aspects of making them more streamlined and less confusing, they've been received very well and are easy to use for those familiar with the routine. Of course the singing of them is ment to be exclusively in Latin. Though I did include english versions of the music as well.

    Though there are those loyal individuals who are content with the extraordinary form office in latin, I discovered that for many people singing entire psalms in Latin is intimidating.

    So in order to faciliate a greater interest among the laity and students at the parish and university I live next to I realized that it would be ideal to sing the Office in english. Many people on the forum have attempted english language vespers booklets before. Most of them going with the standard "2 psalm" "Liturgy of the Hours" layout. Considering the obstacles, the previous attempts at booklets have been impressive. But for someone accustomed to more elaboration and latin liturgies, their simplication indeed leaves much to be desired.

    And so I believe, with the help of Fr. Augustine Thompson, that I have found a solution for this predicament of the post-vatican II Church having an office which has no official music and tends to in my opinion discourage itself from being sung and encourage private recitation.
    The solution for the english language divine office in the modern era appears to be to use the Benedictine office.

    Now, I am in the process of creating english language Vespers booklets which conform to the requirements for it to be in line with the Churches official public worship guidelines. These booklets will follow the Benedictine usage, with the intention of allowing clerics to fulfill their official obligation to pray the divine office.

    By following the Benedictine usage the approved office of today is able to retain very closely the features that existed in the pre-1962 divine office.
    In this way they may retain the consistency and harmony with the last 800 years of liturgy in the church, except in so far as changes to the calendar are concerned.

    In order to create english language booklets for the traditional benedictine divine office there are 5 main areas to I had to focus on.

    #1. The music for the booklets will use as it's musical source, Ormonde Plater's english adaptations from the Antiphonale Monasticum (2005) (which are ment to be used with the Psalterium Monasticum (1981).
    Which are found at here:


    However, where the antiphons remain the same as the 1934 Antiphonale, I will instead use the music found in "The Monastic Diurnal Noted".
    which may be found here:

    This is due to the fact that this antiphonale was adapted with a mastery of the art of english plainchant that has to this day been unmatched in quality. The Monastic Diurnal Noted is currently used by at least one Catholic religious community, the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, MD. It's accompanying breviary book is however not yet approved for usage beyond the sisters priory. (The anglican-use ordinariate may soon eliminate that obstacle).

    #2. The english text for the psalms in the booklets will use the revised grail psalms, which may be found here:

    #3. The Hymns will be the best english metrical translations and paraphrases matching those found in Liber Hymnarius (1983). These translations come from a wide array of anglo-catholic and older catholic books, I have already typeset most of them. I attached an example to this message

    #4 The Collects. I do not know if there are official (good) translations of them in english, It may be necessary to sing them out loud in latin and than read or sing them in english translations (which I have) afterward. I assume that aspect which will be involve the least effort of all.

    #5. This is the last unresolved issue. This is where my question rises for you to answer.

    This concerns the Canticle of Mary or Magnificat.

    The current translation of this canticle, dating, I assume to sometime in the '60's or 70's, is not something I am comfortable singing liturgically.
    I feel most people agree with my sentiment toward it. Theoretically it could be sung to the proper tone, but it would be quite awkward and unappealing to many peoples ears.

    Ideally it would be best if I were to be permitted to use the older chorally established Magnificant translation which comes from the Anglican Protestant Book of Common Prayer. Though it originates in protestantism, it also closely matches the Douay Rheims translation and the literalness of the latin original.
    Not only does this Anglican translation sing very smoothly and nicely, but it is most easy to memorize and it already comes
    typeset to be sung in all 8 gregorian tones. (I typeset them last year in both English and Latin, the English from St Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter and Latin from Fr. Augustine Thompsons Dominican office).

    I post them here for comparison:

    English (Book of Common Prayer):

    My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
    For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
    For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
    For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
    And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
    He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
    He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
    He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
    He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

    English (ICET translation used in The Liturgy of the Hours (ICEL)):

    My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
    From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
    He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
    He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
    He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
    He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
    He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
    the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

    I know that a well known method of resolving this issue is to simply sing the magnificat entirely in latin.
    However, this does partially compormise the success of creating booklets to sing the office entirely in english.
    If I must resort to Latin, I will acquiesce, though I do wish there was another option.

    Using a byzantine rite catholic translation of the Magnificat is another possibility I thought of, were this to be allowed.
    They have a translation which is excellent for singing as well.

    Is there any advice anyone can offer me ?

    Keep in mind that the intention I have is to keep the divine office conforming to the official "modern" standards of the Church to make it count as public worship.
    This is the only way that it will be able to advertised in parish or campus ministry church bulletins and attract significant attendance.


    Antiphonale Monasticum, Part I, “De Tempore” (2005), is a replacement for the “Ordinary Time” part of the 1934 edition (see above), which harmonises the Benedictine office with the new calendar introduced after the Second Vatican Council. In the new non-monastic Roman office Liturgia Horarum, there is a three-year cycle of gospel canticle antiphons, whose texts are drawn from, and designed to accompany, the new three-year eucharistic lectionary.

    Psalterium Monasticum (1981) was produced to supplement the provisions of the Antiphonale Monasticum (1934), and to take account of changes to the church calendar introduced after the second Vatican Council. It includes antiphons for all of the 150 psalms for use on ordinary days (i.e. not Holy Days, Saints Days or special seasons), and some other material.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    For what it's worth, the BCP Magnificat was adopted in the Church-approved Anglican-use "Book of Divine Worship", with the exception that the BDW has "showed" instead of "shewed".