Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What's Wrong? Weekly Q&A- Glory Be edition

"Did I do something wrong?" asked my friend Judy after we prayed Morning Prayer at church today. "There was something I was saying that you weren't saying, but I forget what it was."

I knew. It was another case of the Mismatched Glory Be.
People who are used to praying the Glory Be after each decade of the rosary (and in other places) use the traditional translation of the last half of this prayer: as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  

When the Liturgy of the Hours was revised by Rome in 1970, the English translation made of the Glory Be was different: as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.  It's basically the same as the traditional form, but the "world without end" bit was hacked off.   It's not wrong to use the older form--it's the same prayer. The problem comes when you are praying the Liturgy of the Hours with a group, and different people have a preferred Glory Be. Out of sheer habit (rosary, etc.) and a touch of modified traditionalism (defined as not changing traditional Catholic customs until there's a darned good reason) I use the old Glory Be when I'm praying the office by myself or with my husband. When praying with a group I use the newer one to avoid confusing the people around me. But sometimes I forget. Hence poor Judy's confusion when I lapsed into traditional mode this morning.

There are some slow-moving plans afoot to re-translate the English Liturgy of the Hours, as was recently done with the mass. It is possible the Glory Be will be put back to the older form, OR it might be re-translated in yet another new version. And there might be a good reason for this.  If you look at the Latin ending, et in principio et nunc et semper, et in  omnia saecula saeculorum, it literally says something like,as it was in the beginning, and now and always, and in all, a century of centuries. I know that in the French and Spanish versions of the Glory Be, that saecula saeculorum  is indeed translated "for centuries of centuries".  But in English, we don't use this phrase. Instead we might say "forever and ever". In the collect at mass we translate the ending saecula saeculorum this way. (who lives and reigns with  you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.)   So, when the English breviary eventually gets it facelift, we might end up with the traditional "world without end.Amen" for the sake of preserving long standing custom (not a bad reason.) OR we might get new Glory Be translation of "forever and ever.Amen" in the interest of greater fidelity to the Latin. I doubt we'd get a hyper-literal "century of centuries", since the art of translation encompasses more that sheer literalness.

If any of you found the above a fascinating discussion rather than a nitpicking exercise in tedium, you may want to read more about it on Wikipedia., which discusses the Latin and Greek roots of this phrase as found in the Bible.

Which Glory Be do you use? And if you have any Divine Office Difficulties this week, bring them on, cuz' its weekly Q&A time.

P.S. Welcome new follower, Theresa.