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Revised Grail Psalms 2

Since the Vatican’s approval (recognitio) of a significantly different text of the English Roman Catholic Missal than that which left the desks of the English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences, there has been substantial astonishment by many, including the bishops, at the poor quality of so much of the Vatican’s “Received Text” (the term used for the now-approved English-language RC Missal). In many, many examples the Vatican’s alterations actually go directly against Liturgiam authenticam, the very teaching that this new translation is supposed to be the result of!

The publication of the Revised Grail Psalter at least now provides the explanation of where some of these astonishing “translations” are originating. The “translations” are not translations of the Latin originals at all. There is, in fact we now realise, an unexpressed practice of using the Revised Grail Psalter translation instead of translating the Latin.

Examples will clarify my point. The text that left the bishops’ desks is called the “Grey Book”.

The Entrance Antiphon for Tuesday of Holy Week is Psalm 27: 12
The text is: Ne tradideris me, Domine, in animas persequentium me: quoniam insurrexerunt in me testes iniqui, et mentita est iniquitas sibi.

This is correctly translated from this Latin in the Grey Book as:

Do not hand me over, Lord, to the will of those who pursue me, for unjust witnesses have risen against me and wickedness has lied to itself

One can immediately see why this is the entrance antiphon in Holy Week. It matches the Communion antiphon at the same Mass from Romans 8:32, “God did not spare his own Son, but handed Him over for the sake of us all.”

But the Vatican altered this Entrance antiphon, without explanation, to:

Do not leave me to the will of my foes, O Lord, for false witnesses rise up against me, and they breathe out violence.

This is not a translation of the Latin text, as required. It loses the connection with the Communion antiphon. It makes far less sense for choosing this verse for this Mass.

One more example should suffice.

The Entrance Antiphon, on Saturday, First Week of Lent is Psalm 19:8

Lex Domini irreprehensibilis, convertens animas; testimonium Domini fidele, sapientiam praestans parvulis.

This is correctly translated from this Latin in the Grey Book as:

The Law of the lord is perfect, converting the soul; the decree of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.

The choice of this verse is clearly connected to conversion – an important thread in Lent.

But the Vatican altered this Entrance antiphon, without explanation, to:

The law of the Lord is perfect; it revives the soul. The decrees of the Lord are steadfast; they give wisdom to the simple.

This is not a translation of the Latin text, as required. It makes far less sense for choosing this verse for this Mass.

More examples could be added. The site where one can explore further is the Pray Tell Blog. The psalm verses the Vatican uses are not translations of the Latin texts as the Vatican requires and the bishops produced and presented to the Vatican for authorisation, but are consistently merely the relevant verse from the Revised Grail Psalter.

On many occasions, not only is the Hebrew psalter significantly different from its Latin version, but the very reason that the (Latin) psalm text was chosen in the first place in the liturgical celebration is lost in using, not the translation of this Latin, but the Hebrew original. The obvious difference between the Latin psalms and the Hebrew original is that the Latin texts regularly follow a “Christianisation” of the psalter, and the more messianic interpretation of the Hebrew original – including in choice of vowel pointing.

In the Southern Hemisphere, and certainly in Aotearoa-New Zealand, this is our go-slow time… So – sometimes your comments may take longer than usual to get through moderation…

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6 thoughts on “Revised Grail Psalms 2”

  1. I appreciate, Bosco, and am fascinated by the detail here! (Apparently the devil lies in the detail, making mischief 🙂 ) Thank you.

  2. Should not the purpose be faithfulness to the original — which is the Hebrew Scriptures, not a Latin Christianising of them? And the finest English (French, Spanish, etc.) possible.

    1. There is much to explore in your point, Brian, including the fact that the early church, including the New Testament, did not use the Hebrew original, but rather the (more messianic in some places) Septuagint, treating that as inspired. Furthermore, even in agreeing that we should be faithful to the original Hebrew (and acknowledging issues with translation), the whole reason that a new translation of the RC Missal was undertaken was the teaching of Liturgiam authenticam, which requires accurate translation of the Roman Missal from Latin (and not as has now been done by the Vatican, replacing it with texts translated from the Hebrew and resulting in significantly different, and liturgically less relevant texts). As I have pointed out, the now-revealed-to-be from the Hebrew translation of a verse no longer connects to the particular liturgical celebration for which the verse was chosen in the Latin. Thanks again for your contribution.

  3. Charles R. Williams

    Let’s look at V9. There is parallelism in the Grail/Alter but there is a different parallelism in the Revised Grail. Look at Revelations 2:27 and you will see why the LXX should be considered. For that matter the Nova Vulgata approaches the verb the same way as the RGP. This is an important Messianic psalm. New Testament references to the LXX should be given considerable weight.

    Re: V10, the word “so” does not really change the meaning. It makes more explicit the connection to the prior verses. I think it gives a nice rhythm to the line.

    1. Thanks, Charles. I suspect you are responding to the post Revised Grail Psalms 3 where I look at Psalm 2, but your submission of the comment to this thread will serve well enough.

      I am well aware of the New Testament regularly quoting the LXX rather than the Hebrew text. I have no issue with using LXX, including translations into English of that. There is an issue in stating this is a translation from the Hebrew and then altering to fit NT (ie LXX) differences.

      In this post I underscore the issue. The Mass texts chosen from the psalms are essentially LXX. The psalm translation does not follow the LXX but the Hebrew, losing the point of choosing that particular text, and not following the requirements of translating the Mass text accurately from the Latin.

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