Wednesday, September 07, 2005

It pays to ask people who know

It recently dawned on me out divergent the latin original and english translations of the Gloria of the Mass are; I memorized the latin version a few years ago, and of course in so doing I noticed some differences. But some things escaped me. Before elaborating, let me present the latin, a literal translation thereof, and finally the approved english translation:

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te.
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris,
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus.
Tu solus Dominus.
To solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.
Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise You. We bless You. We worship You. We glorify You.
We give you thanks for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty.
Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
You who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
You who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
You who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For You alone are holy.
You alone are Lord.
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the Glory of God the Father. Amen.

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father.
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father.
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Now, there are obviously some substantial changes from the latin to the approved english translation. "We praise You. We bless You. We worship You. We glorify You.
We give you thanks for your great glory" becomes "We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory."And other examples are apparent.

But what most struck me was this: in the latin, "We praise You. We bless You. We worship You. We glorify You. We give you thanks for your great glory" comes after "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will," but in the approved english version, the translated (and truncated) equivalent comes after "Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father" instead. So the praise, blessing, worship, glorification, and thanksgiving is no longer addressed to God (in the highest), but is now addressed to the Father (in particular).

So it seemed to me that where the official latin directs the praise, blessing, worship, etc. to all three persons of the Most Holy Trinity (because the referent is simple "God"), the approved english translation directs that praise, etc. to the Father in particular. And that seems to be a pretty significant change.

However...

I mentioned this to a number of people and they all agreed with me. But then I met someone who is an expert in these things, and he was able to explain it for me (and remind me of something I knew once, but had forgotten).

In Catholic liturgical prayer, Deus is used to refer to the Father. Even though it is literally translated as God, and even though one might presume (as I did recently) that God always means all Three Persons, that is not the case in liturgical prayer. Instead, the implication is that the Father in particular is being addressed.

This is seen in a number of places; for instance, many of the introductory prayers of the Mass read Deus in latin but are translated Father in english, and rightly so, based on the fact that our prayer is made to God (the Father) through the Son and in the Spirit. I knew this once, but had forgotten it.

So while there many be other problems with the approved english translation, this is an instance in which ICEL got it right.

Like the title of the post says, it pays to ask people who know.