GIRM 392: Languages

A bit more on translations, and perhaps a more generous role for conferences of bishops than currently exists:

392. It shall also be for Conferences of Bishops to prepare with care a translation of the other texts, so that, even though the character of each language is respected, the meaning of the original Latin text is fully and faithfully rendered. In accomplishing this task, it is desirable that the different literary genres used at Mass be taken into account, such as the presidential prayers, the antiphons, the acclamations, the responses, the litanies of supplication, and so on.It should be borne in mind that the primary purpose of the translation of the texts is not for meditation, but rather for their proclamation or singing during an actual celebration.

Language should be used that is accommodated to the faithful of the region, but is noble and marked by literary quality, even though there will always be a necessity for some catechesis on the biblical and Christian meaning of certain words and expressions.

Moreover, it is preferable that in regions that share the same language, the same translation be used in so far as possible for liturgical texts, especially for biblical texts and for the Order of Mass.[Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 36:3]

Nobility is a quality usually yoked with simplicity. In addition, much depends on the bearing of the presider, and his abilities to communicate the important texts. I think we have yet to achieve a true literary quality. By definition, “literariness” is more than vocabulary–it’s also grammar, and the use of the words given. The English MR3 is gravely lacking in this aspect. The best metaphor that comes to mind is fine stones, rough pebbles, and a random assemblage that gives little evidence of beauty or even organization and structure.

GIRM 392 doesn’t even mention the need for a lyrical quality of the liturgy’s translation. How well do texts sing, whether they are literally sung or not? We’re not even in the ballpark on that question, and we pretty much hanve’t been for decades, if not centuries. And so? We soldier on in exile.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to GIRM 392: Languages

  1. Liam says:


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