Wednesday 25 January 2012

The settling-in process of the revised English Mass translation

I thought it might be useful to record the things I have noticed at Mass, now that the revised translation has been up and running in England and Wales for some months.

First of all, our parish priest. He has been very good, very committed to making a decent job of the revised Mass. All credit to him.

Most of the congregation seem to have got the hang of “And with your spirit”. The only instance of it that frequently trips me up is the one after Holy Communion, when I haven’t changed gear from saying my post-Communion prayers, and haven’t picked up my Mass book again. I find myself saying “And also … your spirit”. I’ll get used to it soon enough, I hope.

The Confiteor is, in one respect, a work in progress. Hardly any of the people strike their breast at the “through my fault”, except where I happen to be. Usually by the third strike, my neighbours on each side have joined in, which is interesting. This may be happening elsewhere among the congregation – little clusters of “strikers” – but I don’t look round to see what’s happening. In my peripheral vision, I don’t notice any movement.

During the Creed, and again this is only within my peripheral range of sight, very few heads are bowed at the Incarnation; but then, that was the case before the revision. However, I think the incidence of it has increased a little. There is one heroine who genuflects at this point, in the old style, which sets a wonderful example.

At the Offertory prayers, nearly everyone says “for our good and the good of all his Church”, except for me and a few others thinly scattered around the nave, who remember to insert the “holy”. Our “Church” then goes out into the silence. I feel a bit like Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army, standing to attention a couple of seconds behind the rest of the platoon. But perseverance is the thing; perhaps my neighbours who miss it this time will remember to say it next time. Slowly, slowly, it will spread.

The response to “Behold the Lamb of God” is definitely rather ragged. I think quite a lot of people still say “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you”; but at this point they seem to become conscious of the sound of confusion as the two translations diverge; and I think quite a few of them are back on track with “my soul shall be healed” by the end.

I wonder if these observations are fairly similar to those of my English-speaking readers. I suppose it depends on whether the priest decides to tackle what builders would call the "snagging" list, or relies on time to iron everything out.


Ttony said...

Your experience is similar to mine, though my PP has already discovered ways of improving the prayers in the Missal by adding his own bits.

I am worried by having to use a weekly leaflet whose compilers seem to have banished Eucharistic Prayers 1 and 4 into oblivion.

Though I try to avoid it, somewhere hovering around is the beginning of the inkling of an idea that a proper translation might be illuminating the fact that the sense of vacuity I used to feel from time to time may not be just the fault of the earlier translators ...

Dorothy B said...

You make interesting points, Ttony. I can’t recall ever hearing EP4. Our parish priest used EP1 on one occasion that I can remember, but naturally I don’t know what he has used at the other Masses.

At a Mass I attended at a certain church in this diocese (it was not St Mary-on-the-Quay, which featured in my previous post) the priest said “cup” every time the text read “chalice”. I have attended his Masses before, and in certain liturgical details he has form; but he always preaches an excellent homily, erudite and orthodox, which really makes people think. I live in hope.

As to the vacuity you mention: I have a suspicion that I know what you mean. I have been present at the simplest of Low Masses in the Extraordinary Form, and have emerged from the church with a sense of repletion; of having participated in the great Work. On the other hand, I have attended two papal Masses in recent years, in St Peter’s Basilica. Novus Ordo, of course, and a mixture of Italian and Latin. I know that on each occasion I was at a true Mass, and they were splendidly presented; but there was a lack of the atmosphere of substance. I’d be hard put to it to define precisely what I mean; I find it hard to pinpoint the right expression. It’s distressing, isn’t it, to think in terms of vacuity in relation to the Holy Sacrifice; and yet I think you chose the word well. I hope that the revised English Mass is an early step on the road to the recovery of that wonderful something that was lost.