fredag 4 maj 2012

New improved English Mass translation

New improved translation notwithstanding, the use of English in the Catholic liturgy remains problematical. The English language is one of the battlefields on which the English speaking world's class war, racism, and regional prejudice is fought out.

As soon as anyone opens their mouth and says a few words in English, they are pigeonholed. An Oxbridge accent is perceived as "too posh". People with some regional or colonial accents are perceived as stupid and poorly educated. This is precisely what is not wanted in the liturgy. It is at best a distraction and can be destructive.

Even stranger is the widespread use in non-English speaking countries, of English in the liturgy. The idea has grown up that English has become a universal common language, replacing Latin. Often the priest's English is heavily accented, whilst the readers have strange accents from rural areas of the USA, incomprehensible to anyone not from that locality.

A further issue relates to the music. Gregorian settings of Latin texts do not go well into English because the rhythm of the language is different. Most settings for the 1969 ICEL translation are in a 1970-s pop-music idiom and showing their age badly.

In my view the celebration of Mass in English should not be the norm, but kept for special situations, for example as an aid to catechesis. Otherwise, it would be advantageous if the Extraordinary Form of the mass were that which was normally celebrated, ie in Latin, mostly silently and with the priest facing the same way as the rest of the congregation.

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