'New' English Translation
  • Nachthorn
    Posts: 6
    Please could someone inform me of how strictly we must adhere to the current translation of the Ordinary, when using choir-only settings in English?

    There are many fine examples of English Mass settings (Darke, Howells, Stanford, and the like) which we are missing out on. Is there a case to be argued that the musical quality outweighs the difference in translation?

    Apologies if this has already been covered!
  • I seem to remember that, decades ago, I encountered some rubric or statement to the effect that translations other than the official ones could be used when wedded to musical settings that had some historical pedigree. I suspect, though, that this really is not the case. One can always indulge in 'wishful thinking'. It is my understanding that none but the currently official translation may ever be used for mass, regardless of the musical setting.

    What one can do, though, is carefully to edit one's chosen setting, adapting it to the currently official text. This has been done with The Willan (which, I believe, is to be found in the St Ignatius Pew Missal), and there is no reason that it can't be done with others, though copyright rights may have an influence here.

    I'm interested to see if others here know of any more generous leeway.
  • I for one would absolutely support the use of quality music with a different translation. The old BCP text used by the composers mentioned above is demonstrably superior to the currently approved official one. I know of no rubric/statement/whatever that allows this; but I hold linguistic and musical quality in such high esteem that I just don't care.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,065
    I'm afraid this is impermissible for the Ordinary. 1 and 2 are allowed. 3 and 4 are not.

    1) Greek Kyrie + Latin everything else
    2) the currently approved vernacular translation

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    3) a previously approved vernacular translation
    4) a paraphrase of the approved vernacular translation

    EDITED
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,759
    #3 is not allowed for the Ordinary, but it is allowed in the USA for sung responsorial psalms, which is a wise and prudent concession, because it means people don't have to toss an entire repertoire of psalmody when a new translation comes out (like the New Grail), and some approved translations offer better options for setting a given text in sung form than others...
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,065
    @Liam is definitely correct here, and I have edited my comment to clarify the parts of the Mass to which I was referring.
  • supernoxic
    Posts: 15
    I recently went to mass at a well-known church with a well-regarded music program. Their choir sang a Darke setting unmodified with the BCP text intact. It was beautiful, but certainly the first time I have ever heard that at a Catholic mass.
  • ...with BCP text intact...

    Bravo for them!
    Um, it does say (somewhere!) something about 'these or similar words', doesn't it!!!??

    Considering the awful things and liberties that an awful lot of people do and take at an awful lot of masses, I should think that winking at a BCP-texted ordinary would not be anything at all at which to take umbrage.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,325
    I should think that winking at a BCP-texted ordinary would not be anything at all at which to take umbrage.

    I do (take umbrage). Approved texts are approved texts. If they don't matter, then folks could just as well use the now replaced 1969 texts.
  • Approved texts are approved texts. If they don't matter, then folks could just as well use the now replaced 1969 texts.

    Yes, they matter—but do they matter more than quality? For my money, the Coverdale Psalter is the very best and most beautiful English translation of the Psalms there is. Revised Grail pales in comparison. I vote for singing the Coverdale Psalms because the official translations are vastly inferior (and yes, I know there's no officially mandated Psalm translation, so the analogy isn't perfect—but the point re. quality is still valid).
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,325
    CorAnglais16, there's a proven way for you to use all the texts your heart desires in place of those approved for use in the Roman Cathoic Church: start your own church.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,759
    Well, the New Grail translation will be mandated exclusively for *recited* responsorial psalms in the next edition of the Lectionary. (As noted earlier, for *sung* RPs, in the USA we have the option of using other translations that previously received approval for liturgical use.)
  • I do (take umbrage)...


    Of course, I was talking tongue in cheek about the matter at which Fr Krisman took justified umbrage. He is certainly correct in his response. More chaos than we already have is something we do not need, plus, surely, none of us should want to add to it.

    Too, though I am a champion of Coverdale (I was reared on his psalter and much of the time actually think in his language) I would not want to use him at Roman rite liturgy, for reason, it is jarring and disruptive of a smooth linguistic continuum to be jumping from one grammar to another throughout the ritual text. A ritual text must be consistent throughout the rite to engage the mind in a continuum of spiritual apprehension. This is why I categorically dislike the pastiche of masses which consist of a little bit of this and a little bit of that in Latin and English. Ornaments to the ritual text, such as offertory and communion anthems or motets are, as they are non-ritual ornaments, an exception.

    This is not, of course, to disagree with the utter inferiority of the Grail psalter as a worthy ritual text, and, most certainly, as a chanted one. It is simply too abrupt and graceless to adapt to the Gregorian psalm tones, which work beautifully with Coverdale. Of course, many have gone over entirely to the Meinrad style of psalm tone. These have a certain appealing simplicity, are very clean, but leave me knowing that the Gregorian tones are far more satisfying vehicles of worship. There is no need at all to cast them aside due to one of these thoughtless 'they were made for Latin' excuses. They do work quite well with a language which, like Coverdale's, is generous in syntax and defined by literary grace. Which Grail isn't!
  • CorAnglais16, there's a proven way for you to use all the texts your heart desires in place of those approved for use in the Roman Cathoic Church: start your own church.

    Indeed—though naturally not a viable solution. However, if one were to have, say, a 100-year plan with respect to improving the quality of approved translations, it might begin with building a coalition of people who acknowledge that the currently approved translations are lacking in linguistic beauty, which attitude would over time filter upwards through the hierarchy and become represented in a majority of those in charge of such things. The most direct way of calling the attention of the people to the lack of beauty in the current translations is to expose them to better ones.

    Of course, this discussion ignores the most direct solution—since the English is so mediocre, let's just sing everything in Latin and not use the English at all. I would posit further that the Novus ordo as a whole is aesthetically superior when prayed in Latin than in English. As wonderful as the Howells Coll Reg Gloria is, I would gladly give it up if the hierarchy saw fit to ban the use of English translations of the Ordinary, as I can get my fix of excellent Ordinary settings from Mozart, Schubert, Lassus, et alia.