Thursday, May 11, 2006

reflection on a particular ICEL text

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.

This is ICEL’s translation of:
Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea.

...which might be more literally translated as “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”

The passage is based on Matthew 8:8:
The centurion said in reply, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed."

One of the subtle changes I have noticed from the old Mass to the new is that parts of the old Mass taken from Scripture (i.e. “Judica me, Deus”) were removed. What remains in the new is a Mass that restricts Scripture to readings. In the Latin, the passage is closer to the Gospel passage and is thus a “mistake”, an “oversight” in the process of removing Scriptural texts. So ICEL’s “translation” makes up for this by making the prayer a little less akin to the Scripture.

I *can* see a certain wisdom to keeping Scripture separate from ecclesiastical texts; at the same time, this practice would seem to stem from a refusal to acknowledge liturgical texts themselves as part of Revelation the same as Scripture. It also allows Scripture translations to be updated without making the Mass text look “old-fashioned”; nowadays, pelted as we are with new Scripture translations every few years or so (even the Vulgate!), we’re quite removed from the idea of the Latin Vulgate as being *the* Bible.

I suppose, then, putting aside the obvious issue of “duh, ICEL’s job is to *translate*, not to adapt the Mass” - what do people think? Should Scripture be mingled with the Mass text itself? (I mean, the Proper chant repertoire pretty much *is* that....)


At Friday, May 12, 2006 7:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The genius of the Roman Rite has ordinarily been to always develop its texts from the Scripture itself, rather than from the work of secondary composers. To go through the texts of the Orations of the Mass, the propers, and the anaphora it to be overwhelmed by the heavy dependence upon scripture and scriptural imagery. It is CERTAINLY appropriate, and in fact I think necessary, that the texts reflect the scriptures from which they are borrowed and upon which they are based.

At Friday, May 12, 2006 7:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It`s so hard for me to take ANYTHING seriously that comes from ICEL after the damage they`ve done in the last 35 years. As an old latin teacher, I have to say that their translations in my class would have gotten them a D+ on a good day. I just hope that none of them get a job for a pharmacist and then start translating prescriptions!!!!

At Friday, May 19, 2006 5:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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