Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Okay, time to admit something.

I miss my old office. Yes, even though I've said the new office every day of my life without using any other publication for about four years now, except when my breviary was stolen, I miss my old office. Because, I'll admit it, the new breviary in English is nothing like the new breviary in Latin. It's not. The Latin breviary, it's stately. Yes, it's Paul VI's new office, but it has this air of being ancient even though it is not

I think it's because, in the end, with all it's novelties, Paul VI latin office is a summation, or a collection of ancient offices. The best of many different rites and uses was taken and put together in the new office, hence, we have the Office of the Blessed Virgin from French usage, the common of Virgins from Pre-Pius V Roman usage, the common of martyrs from ancient Roman usage, the common of Holy Men taken from various commons for monks and abbots, as well as the Roman usage. Throughout the year, we have antiphons from Dominican and Sarum uses, hymns from the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites, all held together with the stately and poetic prose of the reformed Vulgate psalter and scripture.

And yes, the new psalter is poetic. There's so much more poetry and beauty in 'Ut liberentur dilecti tui, salvum fac dextera tua et exaudi me' than in 'Come and deliver your friends,help with your right hand and reply'. Besides being inaccurate, look at the concepts which are eliminated: Each of us is God's 'beloved', we are saved by God, not helped, He hears us. There is so much more beauty in 'Confitebor tibi,quia mirabiliter plasmatus sum; mirabiliter opera tua, et anima mea cognoscit nimis' than in 'I thank you for the winders of my being, for the wonders of all your creation.'

Entire parts are lost in the English translation as well. In the tranlsation, there's nothing about 'Throni,dominationes, principatus, potestatus'- Thrones, dominions, principalities, powers- The whole theology of the choirs of angels is cut out of the canticle for Wednesdays. There's also familiarity. I'm no scholar, no saint, no person of special talents. But the liturgy has been impressed on my mind after years of praying it, and I'm familiar with 'Dominus regnavit, decorum indutus est', but I could'nt tell you what that same psalm is in the current translation. I know 'Ego dixi: Domine, miserere mei, sana animam meam, quia peccavi tibi', but I could'nt tell you that responsory. There's an arsenal of psalms and psalm verses that through repetition have just gotten memorised- Deus misereatur nostri et benedicat nobis, Miserere mei Deus, Dixit Dominus, Qui pascis Israel intende- now all that's gone. And what's worse is that, because so many concepts don't exist in the current translation, all those beautiful concepts and affections and prayers which used to be able to draw from the psalms are now all gone.

The hymns are gone too. No longer will there be passiontides singing the royal triumph of the cross of Christ our king, no more recounting his 'Thirty years among us dwelling', No more praising the 'Trinity of Blessed light, the Unity of princely might.' Gone is 'Glorious Lady, throned in rest' of the office of the blessed virgin, and no more of the new eve of 'Quod Eva Tristis Abstulit'. I figured it would not be a big change, but it is. I find the current translation of the office to be flat- It's less of a translation than a faulty paraphrase. I say 'faulty', because entire concepts are gone, things are moved about or deleted, seemingly at random. So much so that S.Augustine's commentary on the psalms so often looses it's sense, because what he says is not what the breviary says at all.

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