Monday, November 12, 2012

Flash! New Breviary Discussion at Bishops Meeting!

Earlier today I had the
luck   presence of mind nudge from my guardian angel to turn on EWTN and see how the bishops were doing with their meeting in Baltimore. Within minutes of tuning in, I gasped as Archishop Aymond, chairman of the committee on Divine Worship, took the podium to discuss (insert drum roll here) the proposed revision of the American breviary!!!

I'd heard a rumor last month that this subject would be brought up, but feared it would be shelved in favor of giving time to more pressing matters related to the healthcare mandate or the proposed document on employment. So I leaped for the laptop when I saw what was about to happen. Today's session was a presentation of the worship committee's initial recommendations regarding a new translation. The bishops were then given the chance to ask clarifying question today, but  actual debate will take place tomorrow. What follows are from  my hastily typed notes with my own reactions in bold.  Here we go:

Archbishop Aymond opened by saying that ever since the new missal translation was implemented last year, there were frequent inquiries and requests for a revised translation of the breviary. As a result, the committee requested Rome to give permission for work to go forward on pursuing a "more up to date" edition of the breviary,and one that would be more in harmony with the Latin edition(editio typica).  [Yay! We did it! Kudos to everyone who ever wrote the USCCB or their own bishops about this. I had heard earlier that a new breviary was on the back burner, behind new translations of rituals for sacraments. Now it's on the front burner!]

Next, Archbishop Aymond mentioned several proposed  modifications. And the bishops who asked questions based on the handouts they'd received indicated that there were several more:

1. The Revised Grail Psalms would be the new psalter.[We already knew this but now it's official.]
2. The translation for the Benedictus and the Magnificat would remain the same because of long familiarity.[this makes some sense because we have them memorized]
3.The Te Deum would be re-translated.
4.The Holy See said not to attempt re-translating the Office of Readings second readings, in the interest of not making the project drag on for years. [Amen!]
5.Hymns will be English translations of the official Latin breviary hymns! [Yay!  Morning Has Broken shall decrease, Conditor Alme Siderum will increase!!!]
6. Psalm prayers will be eliminated to make the text match the Latin edition.[look for lively discussion of this one tomorrow. Bishop Fiorenza expressed dismay during the question period.]
7.The doxology (Glory  Be) is still under discussion as to whether it should be the traditional (world without end.Amen) version, or something else. Archbishop Aymond acknowledged that discussion in the committee on this point was lively. In the clarification questions that followed from the floor, Cardinal O'Malley said he was pleased that the Glory Be was being reconsidered. He pleaded for the traditional version, saying that the only uniform prayers catholics had left at the moment  were the Our Father and the Sign of the Cross--that even the Hail Mary had it's "thee vs. you" versions. [Right on, Cardinal Sean!]

Other clarifiying questions  included a worthwhile request from Bishop Trautman that antiphons be changed to match the Grail Psalms. [A very sensible idea--to take the antiphons away from ICEL and give them to Conception Abby (authors of the Revised Grail Psalms) to harmonize them with the psalms.]

When asked by Bishop Sheehan for a timeline on the whole process from new translations to approval from Rome to publication, Archbishop Aymond said three to five years. [Given how long it took to get the mass re-translated and implemented, I think 5 years is lovely, and if it were 3 I'd be delirious with joy]

Remember, gentle fan of the Divine Office, none of the above is in concrete. The actual debate on it all will take place tomorrow. I have no idea where on the schedule this is, but keep tuning into EWTN and maybe you will catch it.

This is progress. Te Deums are in order.

Stay tuned for more posts on this topic this week.


  1. I understand the reasoning, but I do wish they'd retranslate the Benedictus and Magnificat. Especially the Magnificat, which drives me up the wall crazy for the lack of magnify.

  2. #6: YAY!! Those "psalm prayers" are distracting as some seem to have been written by a person with an axe to grind.

  3. Hooray!

    I kind of agree with Geek Lady about the Benedictus and Magnificat, though I do think learning new versions would be a pain after all this time.

    1. Don't forget, you can always learn to say or chant the gospel canticles in Latin, thus bypassing your quibbles with the translation! Praying part or all of the office in Latin is urged in the church documents.

    2. Oh that is different. I would have to hear it to learn by heart.

  4. I. am. so. excited. about this! I can't wait. I do agree about the missing "magnify" in the Magnificat, but on the other hand, I do know it by heart in it's current form. And... I must confess I've been re-translating the Te Deum ever since the Sanctus was changed. Hosts and "power and might" are not the same thing.

  5. Is there a Latin LOTH online?

    1. If you use ibreviary, there is a "More"tab where you can go to select different languages, and Latin is among them.

      There is also this:
      but it seems kind of complicated to me.

    2. All this time and I didn't know! Thanks.

  6. I was discussing this with some excitement yesterday with my liturgist friend over Google chat, and he strongly disagrees with the decision not to retranslate the Benedictus and Magnificat. He says having something memorized doesn't mean the translation is liturgically appropriate, and he's astounded they would exempt anything from proper translation on those grounds.

    We discussed using Latin briefly, but he agrees with me on the basic problem Latin represents. We both love the use of Latin, and support its adoption in general... But in specific, anything even as long as the Pater Noster will be an ineffective struggle (for me, I believe his Latin is better than mine, although not by much). And that's kinda the raw deal - some people are inherently terrible at learning other languages. So while the Latin is there, and a good idea in theory, it never even occurs to me to use it. Possibly it would be counter productive, increasing my resentment over the bad English translation.