Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Parallels to Dynamic Equivalence - Circa 1903

[The following was sent into us by Jeff Ostrowski, the president of Corpus Christi Watershed.]

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An Astounding Latin Mass Document from 1903

by Jeff Ostrowski
President, Corpus Christi Watershed

Thanks in large part to the efforts of the Adoremus Bulletin during the 1990's, many NLM readers are probably familiar with the theory of "dynamic equivalence" (as found in Comme le prévoit, 25 January 1969) that was superseded when Liturgiam Authenticam (28 March 2001) called for "formal equivalence" in liturgical translations. In light of this, I was astonished to discover the following document: 1903 Mass Ordinary Translation by Solesmes Abbey

As you can see, it almost seems like a "dynamic equivalent" approach to the Extraordinary Form!

Needless to say, the monks of Solesmes never claimed that this was a literal translation of the Mass. I suspect they thought of it more as a spiritual reflection, to help people enter more fully into the sacred prayers of the Mass. For instance:

LATIN: Oramus te, Domine, per merita Sanctorum tuorum, quorum reliquiae hic sunt, et omnium Sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Amen.

LITERAL ENGLISH: We beseech Thee, O Lord, by the merits of Thy Saints, whose relics are here, and of all the Saints, that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to forgive me all my sins. Amen.

1903 SOLESMES: Generous soldiers of Jesus Christ, who have mingled your own blood with his, interceded for us that our sins may be forgiven: that so we may, like you, approach unto God.

As alluded to above, the theory of "dynamic equivalence" for the Mass texts was eventually abandoned for two main reasons:

1. The early translators of the Mass "went too far" with the theory and increasingly became the object of criticism. For instance, it does not take a Latin scholar to realize that the former translation of the Exsultet was severely lacking, even omitting entire paragraphs.

2. More importantly, the Church is now stressing that to change the original phrases of the ancient prayers cannot help but strip away a tremendous amount of richness and beauty.

For this reason, I feel that the 1903 Solesmes Mass Ordinary, while certainly interesting and beautiful, can not compare to a literal rendering of the Latin.

Very soon, I will have the pleasure of introducing NLM readers to the brand new St. Edmund Campion Missal & Hymnal for the Traditional Latin Mass. For this project, we found it absolutely essential to give a "formal equivalence" rendering to all prayers, and have therefore scrupulously adhered to the hieratic, superb, literal translations of Father F. X. Lasance. More on this coming soon!

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