Tuesday, 13 June 2006

New Translations

There is an air of barely supressed excitement on the blogs and in the Catholic Press...

...well, ok, I'm exaggerating a little. Fine... I'm exaggerating a lot. But even I have noticed that rather a lot of people have made references to a new English translation of the Mass. And the upshot of it all seems to be that we shall soon be learning new versions of the prayers said at Mass. Or rather, we shall be learning the correct versions of the prayers said at Mass. About time too...

...Some time ago I managed to get my paws on an old Missal, and being the sort of person who reads instruction booklets, I settled down to have a good look at it. It has the Latin in one column, and the English in the next. Now, I don't actually know any Latin, but from attending the odd Mass at Westminster Cathedral, and from singing, I have gradually come to recognise the main prayers of the Mass: Confiteor, Gloria, Sanctus, etc. etc. So you can imagine my surprise when, finding the "familiar" Latin prayers, I noticed that the English translations were so very different from the phrases I was used to trotting out at church.

Take the Confiteor: the bit which I know simply as
"I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do"

is actually translated in my old missal as:

"I have sinned exceedingly
in thought, word and deed,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault"

Although this isn't a particularly good example, it still demonstrates that the translations we have been expected to use up until now have a real paucity of expression. Even allowing for the fact that the English language has changed over the past 50 years, I get the distinct impression that somewhere along the line we've been short-changed...

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