Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Comparing Psalm Translations- Grail vs. Revised Grail

There will be a new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours some time in the future, which will include a revision of the Grail Psalms that we currently have in place. (You can read about the proposed changes to the breviary here if you missed my post last November.) I already use the Revised Grail psalms when I pray, thanks to a breviary from  Kenya  purchased last year. I've written before about some of the positive features to this  new version of the psalms.

Often, I'll come upon a verse in the Revised Grail, and be taken aback, because it seems like something I'd never read before. I stop and compare the two translations. Occasionally this new version strikes me as odd, since, after all, I've been using the other one for decades. But most of the time the change seems so much better. It tells me much more about God than the current  version of the psalter.

Take, for example, Psalm 42, which we had at Lauds this morning. Verse 9 of the current version says,
by night I will sing to him, praise the God of my life.
in contrast, the Revised Grail version is:
by night his song is with me, prayer to the God of my life.

His song. A tiny change that says a lot. It jumped out at me because those two little words reminded me of what the Liturgy of the Hours is: the eternal praise of Jesus Christ to His Father. As the Church puts it:
 "Christ Jesus, High Priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile the hymn of praise that is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven." [quoting  Vatican II Decree on the Liturgy] From then on in Christ's heart the praise of God assumes a human sound in words of adoration, expiation, and intercession, presented to the Father by the Head of the new humanity, the Mediator between God and his people, in the name of all and for the good of all. (from the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours)

So three cheer for the Revised Grail Psalms, and here's hoping that the Holy Spirit will guide the US Bishops' worship committee to complete their work quickly and well!

If you are curious about the Revised Grail Psalms, you can view them on this website for free. Or you can purchase them in book form.

39 comments:

  1. Check out the King James Version!

    "and in the night his song shall be with me,
    and my prayer unto the God of my life."

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    1. Ha! The Revised Grail is pretty close. The Revised Standard is similar.

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  2. Daria,

    Regarding the Kenyan breviary does it include the extended vigils for Sundays, Solemnities and Feasts? Am curious as my current set is pretty much on its last legs---after 30+ years of handling and traveling. Been using the IBreviary but it just is not the same--call me old fashion. I could replace the set with new volumes but if the Kenyan has the Revised Grail I would prefer purchasing that edition. Thank you in advance for your response.

    Lenny

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    1. I just checked--since I usually do Office of Readings on Sunday mornings, and on the rare occasions that I've done vigils I used ibreviary. The answer is yes, everything for vigils is there. Also--and this is something I love--Kenya has year A B and C antiphons for the Sunday gospel canticles (as per Roman breviary), so they all match the gospel every Sunday, rather than just one of them matching. Here is the link for Pauline media of Kenya:
      http://paulinespublicationsafrica.blogspot.com/p/liturgy-of-hours.html

      They list it for $120 for the set, but I had to pay something like $145 because of shipping costs. I had to send the check to the Pauline sisters in Boston and they arranged the transaction. It took a month or so from start to finish. Good luck.

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    2. Addendum: send an email to distribution@paulinesafrica.org explaining what you want to do. They will let you know the current price and shipping/handling.

      Pauline Africa also has the best one-volume around.It has all the daytime hours rather than the paltry selections that are in Christian Prayer. So the whole LOTH except for Office of Readings is in their one volume edition.

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    3. What size are these books approximately?
      I see the one-volume goes for $25.

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  3. They're about the same size as the american ones. I talk a bit more about them in the next post.

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  4. Or the NABRE for Psalm 42:9 "and by night may his righteousness be with me! I will pray* to the God of my life"

    "his" "righteousness" an even bigger difference, not really even in the same theological ball park, is it? And, I think I prefer it.

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    1. Wow! Not sure which I prefer. I guess I"d prefer whichever is the most accurate. Alas that I don't know ancient Hebrew.

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  5. Yes, "wow" is what I thought too. Not what I expected when I looked it up. I'm a former Protestant minister of two decades and a convert to the Church of eight years plus and a daily LotH (4v) pray-er...but I am no scholar of ancient anything so I cannot speak to the accuracy. The NABRE, as far as I can tell stands alone in its use of "righteousness" there. The NRSV (which we have here in Canada for liturgy) is consistent with the RGP "and at night his song is with me / a prayer to the God of my life." and that translation has been around for some time now.

    Interesting the NABRE, whose revised Psalms are improved from its predecessor but still takes hits for particular word choices certainly makes an interesting one in 42:9. :-)

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    1. I envy Canadians for the NRSV lectionary, which I enjoy hearing whenever I visit my daughter in St. Catharines, ONT. And at her parish they use a lovely old hymnal as well.

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    2. Interesting. I rather like the NRSV and wish that the lectionary version were in print as an actual Bible (never going to happen).

      If you are willing to answer I am interested know what in particular in the NRSV-lectionary you enjoy hearing or what say strikes you as favourable (if that's the case) over your USA NABRE-based lectionary.

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    3. Can't recall specific readings right now, but in general the NRSV, like it's RSV predecessor--uses word choices that are little more....hmm....noble? less clunky than NAB? That's about the best I can do.

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    4. I appreciate that. Thanks.

      We Canadian Catholics are greatly impacted here in Canada by the States in terms of publishing and media even though our lectionary with its NRSV base is more in keeping with our cousins across the Pond.

      I do hope in the coming weeks you get to hear "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." and not the ugly, clunky, daft sounding if not precisely inaccurate NABRE "Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,d
      Father-Forever, Prince of Peace" - ugh. I think even Baby Jesus would run and hide from that acclimation ;-)

      - - -
      Returning to the RGP: based on your article and a number of others I have been reading today, especially relating to the RGP's eventual inclusion by the LoTH, and from reading a number of my favourite passages from http://www.giamusic.com/sacred_music/RGP/psalmDisplay.cfm I have purchased a nice edition for my wife and I each (for Christmas) of the RGP from an oh so wonderful discount seller.

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    5. Oh yeah! That stupid "god-hero" just sets my teeth on edge. Luckily I'm in a local Messiah concert, so I've already had the chance to sing out " the mighty God" lots of times.

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  6. I have a love-hate relationship with the LOTH. The concept is great, having priests, religious, and laity reading/praying from different books of the Bible at set times throughout the day. However, I can't stand the translation of the 1974 LOTH and I fear the new translation will not be better. I'm not complaining about style. I'm concerned about accurately reflecting the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The 1974 LOTH greatly failed in this regard and likewise the NRSV& NAB. I am a Jewish convert to Catholicism and although I'm no Hebrew scholar, I know enough to get by. I'm also in the process of learning some Latin. Knowing Hebrew has become a curse for me. Sometimes I have to stay away from LOTH. I can't comprehend why Rome allowed the American and the Canadian Bishops to use these translations during Mass and in the LOTH. I would love to have access to the LOTH with the Douay-Rheims Bible or KJ and to have the same used during Mass.

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    1. Alan, I'm sure if you're learning Latin you must be familiar with the usus antiquor aka extraordinary form of the mass. Maybe you dont know that the pre-Vatican II Divine Office is also available in both printed, onine, and ebook versions. You might be a lot happier with one of these.

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  7. Alan, I enjoy the quite accurate, often beautiful and always literal but much misunderstood and improperly maligned NRSV. But I'll pass on engaging in another fruitless translation combox battle. :)

    You may be interested in the English/Latin pre Vatican ii Monastic Diurnal (daily) available in the USA and from the UK. It is a single volume Monastic version of the Divine Office. It is acceptable for use by the laity. The blog "saintswillarise" offers detailed instruction on its use. I enjoyed for a time but greatly missed the wealth of wisdom and spiritual blessing that is found in the Office of Readings in the LoTH only. The Monastic Diurnal is usually available under 100. USD. Another weakness, from my point of view but a boon in the mind of others, is that it does not adhere to the current approved Liturgical Calendar of saints/feast/memorial/etc days.

    Alternately you may like the Baronius Press three volume Latin/English Breviary that has recently come back into print. It sells faster than a black mantilla among those attending the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It is approved for use among the laity as it meets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's 2007 Apostolic Letter "Summorum Pontificum" [which you can readily find online]. It meets your preferred list of specs.

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    1. P.S. Alan.
      Meant to add, from one convert to another, Welcome Home and may God bless your continued journey of faith in the one, holy, catholic an apostolic Church which subsists in-Christ in unity with the local ordinary (bishop) who is in unity with the Bishop of Rome - presently our dearly loved Pope Francis.

      Cheers / lechayim!

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  8. Yes, I have used the 1960 office a few times divinumofficium.com . I really like it since it uses the Douay-Rheims Bible. Also, the wording of the prayers is so much better. My problem with this one is that it's way too long and I don't have the time. I don't understand why they stopped short when revising the English Mass two years ago. All they did was revise the wording of some of the prayers and creeds. If I were the Pope, I would have brought in a standard translation of the Bible for use in the Mass (and LOTH) for all English speaking countries. It would be a literal translation and not based on the dynamic equivalent model prevalent in modern bibles. But then, I’ll never be the Pope.

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    1. Alan, sounds like either of the D-R & EF-mass based breviaries will suit both your need and your translation notions but especially the Monastic Diurnal as it is very brief and single volume; also much less expensive. / Best regards.

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  9. Owen, thanks for doing the hard work of listing the various older versions of the Divine Office for Alan. I'll add that there are monthly ebooks of the 1955 breviary, with everything in English and in order. Just look "Roman Breviary in English, in Order" to find it
    Alan, I second Owen's gladness at finding one of our elder brothers in faith no longer separated from the Messiah or His body, the Church.
    You mentioned frustration that the New Roman Missal stopped short by revising the mass but not the lectionary. I agree that the New American bible, revised or otherwise, leaves much to be desired, and I don't even know Hebrew! I think some of our bishops feel the same, but probably not enough to start a movement. As to the LOTH, you might want to look up the Revised Grail Psalms, which will appear in the next iteration of the Engish language LOTH. You can see them online: http://www.giamusic.com/sacred_music/RGP/psalmDisplay.cfm
    I guess the issue with translating the psalms is not just the meaning, but also phrasing them in a way that makes them sound good when chanted--meter, rhythmn, syllable stress, etc.--all the things that those of us who merely recite don't appreciate as much. When I come to a verse of a psalm or other scripture that doesn't compare favorably with the older translations I have in my , I either substitute the old one for the new, or else "offer it up" in thanksgiving for the privillege of being able to pray the hours.
    Also--I know people who use EF breviaries for lauds and vespers but switch to OF for the Office of Readings, because of the reasons Owen gives.
    Best wishes to both of you and thanks for this interesting discussion.

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    1. Darla,
      easy work...I love the sacred scriptures and I love the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours...Thank you for this blog and the service you offer. I recommend your book - though I haven't used it myself as I have long since cut-my-teeth on the LoTH on my own ;-)

      Just to clarify...it's Alan you are addressing when you write, "You mentioned frustration that the New Roman Missal stopped . . ." because that's his issue not mine :-) Even so, I was happy to read the comment through and fully concur with you on the suggestion you give when you say,


      This is a beautiful Christian attitude "When I come to a verse of a psalm or other scripture that doesn't compare favorably with the older translations I have in my , I either substitute the old one for the new, or else "offer it up" in thanksgiving for the privillege of being able to pray the hours."

      In regard to the misconception regarding the primacy literalness of the D-R over "modern translations" particularly the NRSV -- I resist, yes, yes I resist well, except to say one of the great things about it what some people find jarring, namely, it is very accurate/literal in that it approaches the Hebrew scriptures particularly in a Hebrew context and minus the Christocentric layer of interpretation -- all be it worthy from a Christian point of view given by the Vulgate-- in key passages throughout what we Christians call the Old Testament. This means a little more work for the Christian reading the O.T. but it means there is in fact a greater faithfulness to the original. This is why I love the Catholic Church, especially as a convert and former Protestant minister; Protestantism [ostensibly] is scripture *or* tradition, sola scriptura, whereas the Church is all about sacred Scripture *and* sacred Tradition. Thus we have not only the Bible and our own lights but the Bible and the living Magesterium that we can plumb for fuller and correct understanding.

      P.S. I have an as-new Monastic Diurnal I am unlikely to use and would be happy to see it in the hands of someone who would benefit from it.

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    2. Maybe Alan would like your Monastic Diurnal. Oh, and Alan, you mentioned the length of the older breviary being an obstacle. You might go on ebay and look for an old Short Breviary by LIturgical Press from the 1950s. This is a lovely little book which made it possible for the layman to fit the hours into a layman's busy life. Each of the hours is somewhat abbreviated, but the prayers, psalms, and readings that are there are the correct ones for each day. So that book would solve both the length problem and the traditional vs modern translation problem.

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    3. Thanks for understanding and for all the responses. I looked up the new grail psalms to be used in the upcoming LOTH, and the translation is much better than the current one. I also looked up some of the psalms that I have issues with, and those problems are fixed in the new psalter. I hope they are planning to re-translate the other biblical passages, not included in the psalms. I have no problem with older more traditional hymns, and deleting the psalm prayers doesn’t bother me at all. Anyhow, it’s something to look forward to. There is light at the end of the tunnel for the LOTH.

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  10. Owen, hang on to your MD for now. There may come a time when you will use it. But thanks for the offer. Next time, I’m at Pauline Books, I will ask if they sell them. I will probably go there before the holidays. Even though I sometimes put the LOTH down for a while, I always come back to it, in spite of my dislike of the translation. When I go a few days without praying the LOTH, I feel out of synch and disorientated. Plus, I like being on the same cycle for psalms, readings, memorials, feasts, etc. as the rest of the church. When the new LOTH comes out, I hope it’s available online.

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    1. Alan, you may purchase online from St. Michael's Abbey [Press] where the Benedictine monks will more directly benefit from your order of the single volume MD; ISBN 9780907077657 theabbeyshopDOTcom

      When the new instance of the LoTH is released my best guess for free access [they have apps for all OS - for a fee as is fitting] @ divineofficeDOT org

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  11. Daria,

    I would like to offer one more [perhaps a little long] thought on this thread relating to the LoTH and my reason for returning to it.

    Even though -- and I agree with Alan and you -- that the existing Grail translation as well as the old NAB base for other scripture passages beyond the Psalms is sometimes banal and that some of the psalm prayers and even the wording of the intercessions can be tepid and much of the hymnody is like “ack!” -- in spite of all that I returned to it from time spent with the Monastic Diurnal and in, what was then, eager anticipation of the reissue of the three volume breviary set published by Baronius Press.

    There is the reason already noted about the richness of the Office of Readings in the LoTH found in no other instance of the Divine Office. All those scripture readings plus a plethora of letters from popes, saints, Church councils. Wow. But the real reason for my return is more personal.

    It is simply this, I no longer pray the Divine Office alone. That and those with whom I am praying with are not of the D-R / E.F. mode not even close and they are good people, and faithful Catholics open to Christ. It was a hard and somewhat sad time when, as a convert, I practiced the D.O. on my own. It was like being a “universal” Christian operating in a “sola” mode - a false compartmentalism of life. In that mode where I had only self to serve I leaned toward older language, and more formal ways and fought my way along with the resulting disconnect both with the liturgical calendar and with flesh and blood people.

    However, now, my wife of 30 years joins me every evening for Night Prayer and on her own, before work, does Morning Prayer (our schedules differ). On her own yet not on her own because in this household at a slightly different time I am praying that same LoTH office. I sometimes get to our parish chapel where M.P. is said in community. And, my wife and I along with 8 others are now Basilian Lay Associates who, as a part of this wonderful community, pray the D.O. in the accepted form, namely, the LoTH in our homes and once a month (or more) in community. Our eldest daughter is making her come-and-see year with the B.L.A. in another city where her parish is also Basilian lead; another connecting point.

    So, for it’s arguable flaws and with great expectation for the new instance of it, the current LoTH is one of the greatest blessings I've experience in the past eight years since coming into the fullness of the faith. I regret my former ultra Catholic piety and my ignorance, even arrogance (a not uncommon pharisaic-liturgical snobbery held among Catholic converts and re-verts) regarding both the LoTH and sacred Scripture and even the liturgy of the Mass. But that was then and thanks be to God, this is now.

    If I were to add just one more plus for the LoTH it is the fact that the vast majority of the English speaking world, priests, religious and laity, it must be imagined is using the existing LoTH. As the D.O. is the universal prayer of the universal Church this former Protestant desires to be as much in union as much as is possible.

    Thus endeth my lesson {wink}

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    1. Thanks again, Owen, your thoughts match mine on so many points! You know, I have long been looking for someone to write occasional or frequent guest posts on this blog. Lately other projects have been calling me and I don't write here nearly as often as I used to. Also, I've more or less used up my store of insights about the LOTH and could use a fresh voice. I urge you to review the archives here, and if you think you might like to make some contributions, email me and let me know.

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  12. Alan, I'm glad you are happy with the Revised Grail. Realize that the new English breviary won't be complete for probably 4 or five years. However, if you have $150 to spare, and want something that is halfway there, you might want to take the trouble of ordering the Pauline breviary now in use in Africa. Don't know whether you've looked through this blog's archives, but I've written about it several times, and here is a detailed guest post from one of my readers:
    http://dariasockey.blogspot.com/2013/09/guest-post-single-volume-pauline.html
    The African breviary has the Revised Grail Psalms and also additional Sunday gospel canticle antiphons that we don't have in the American breviary. So I am pretty happy with it.

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    1. Daria, do you have the four volume set from Africa and with the revised psalms?

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    2. Yes, Alan, I do. If you are wondering about the scripture readings, they are unfortunately, the NABRE. .The psalm prayers are eliminated, the Revised Grail Psalms are used. I'd be happy to answer anything else.

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    3. Daria, how is the print, is it small or nice easy to read size?

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    4. Daria, allow me . . .

      Alan, here's an excellent article with photos that will probably answer most of your questions including the ones already posed :) http://absnospin.blogspot.ca/2011/02/guest-review-kenyan-liturgy-of-hours.html

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    5. Owen, thanks for the link. The info and the pictures are great. Looks like something I could pray with. I will probably be going to our local Pauline Book Store before the holidays. I will ask them about pricing and their ability to order me a set. Although, I’m not sure I want to spend more money. I just purchased the 4 volume set of LOTH 18 months ago for just under $300. But it is tempting, looks like a big improvement and it gives me hope that the forthcoming one will be even better. It’s encouraging to know that the English speaking bishops (Amercian, Canadian, African, etc) are on the right track.

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    6. Daria, I don’t mind NABRE, even though it’s not my first choice. I do admit it is an improvement from NAB. In your country, is the new Mass using NAB or NABRE?

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  13. Today I prayed Vespers and Compline from the Divinum Officium website. I really do live the wording, even though it’s longer.

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  14. Psalm 43 9 In God shall we glory all the day long: and in thy name we will give praise for ever. Douay-Rheims
    Psalm 41 9 In the day time the Lord hath commanded his mercy; and a canticle to him in the night.With me is prayer to the God of my life,
    Douay-Rheims .
    Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.
    Please stick to this an you will be safe,Joseph.


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  15. Where has it been stated we can substitute psalm translations when praying the hours?

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