Friday, 3 October 2008

Missals and Minds.

A nice Church in Stamford, the name of which I forget.

Because I am the only person in my Church who understands Latin and because I do not wish to cause alarums within the Diocese, a full useage of Latin in the liturgy is unlikely to come to Saint Hilda's Prestwich. However, this does not mean that we have no liturgical decisions to make. We currently use a 'sandwich' rite of ASB (now CW) confiteor, the standard ICEL Gloria, Roman collect, Roman readings (usually), ASB (now CW) Pax, Roman preface and Roman Eucharistic Prayer. We have the 'we are one body' dialogue and often give the BCP blessing. We used to be straight ASB for daily Mass, until the missal collapsed in a freak accident and we were given a Roman Missal for the Lady Chapel. But the donated missal is the later interim rite, fully vernacular but with the prefaces still beginning 'it is indeed right and proper, it is our duty and it leads to our salvation...' rather than the newer 'we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks and praise...' (do we?).

Coming from this is the debate over the 'new' Roman Missal. We have been following the drafts carefully and with the presence of one of the senior figures of the English liturgy commission temporarily residing in Manchester and picking up on numerous clues such as the slight modifications to the rite used in the Church he has been residing, we have been well informed. It is from this standpoint that I, at least, am heartily disappointed by the new translation which seems to be the final draft. Eucharistic Prayer 4 has not uncovered it's orthodox roots in the Liturgy of St James, as I had hoped, but become almost unusable. Prayer one is beautified, generally, but I prefer 'sacred hands' to 'holy and venerable hands' as indeed would the president of the Mass is there were the will to sing the Canon. The peace has been retained in it's usual place, much against the will of the commission but under the influence of the American Bishops Conference. It seems to me and I leave myself very open here to criticism I know, to be a clear compromise document. One (maybe the only) of the good things about Bugnini's commission which forced through the Novus Ordo as we know it is that it was a fait accompli, so there was very little in wrangling over the translation, indeed the English translation was rushed through hence the clear need for a new, updated, better translation.

Of course, people are fickle and a new translation, with the associated need to learn new musical settings and words to familiar prayers like the gloria will always raise hackles, whether the finished work is beautiful or not and I wonder, only half jokingly, if there will be a rival to the Latin Mass Society in the shape of a 'Novus Ordo Society' or an SSPVI, to promote the use of the current translation and to train the Priests in the lost arts of crepe paper, polyester chasuble weaving and heavy drinking. There will be no choice, of course, for RC parishes but I wonder, for us who make slight to heavy use of the Roman Rite in our Parishes, if we will change as well? I know to some there will be no question of whether, just the assumption that it is necessary and there will be some who, blindly ignoring the fact that the conservative Evangelical Churches are about as familiar with Common Worship and the BCP as the average cat is, will choose to attack us for disobedience. But what of it?