The new Roman missal: angels make a comeback

November saw the introduction of the much announced new English translation of the Roman Catholic missal (the liturgical book containing the order of Mass). This new translation is much more faithful to the latin, and the changes are significant. In the early centuries AD when the Christian Church became established in Rome, latin was not just the language of Rome, but the lingua franca of the known world, and hence became the language of the Church. However, as others have pointed out, this was not true either in the time of Jesus, when the lingua franca was Greek – hence, all the canonical gospels except Matthew were written in Greek – nor today, when it is English. These facts rather undermine the case for the primacy of latin, but there you go.

There is a lot not to like about the new missal, particularly the quite literal return to the breast-beating mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, now rendered in English Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grevious fault. Got that? We’re Catholics: it’s our fault.

In it’s favour, angels feature much more prominently. This is especially to be welcomed since the trend of suppressing mention of the angels goes back to the Jews, the Protestants of their day – but that’s a topic for another time. In the new missal, Yahweh Sabbaoth in the Sanctus (Holy, Holy) is correctly translated Lord God of Hosts, rather than the impoverished Lord God of Power and Might. As mentioned in the previous post, the words Power and Might refer to two of the nine heirarchies of angels, but you have no way of knowing this from the text.

Moreover, in the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, immediately preceeding the Sanctus, we get this:

And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Wow! Five of the nine ranks of the heavenly hosts are mentioned: not just the Angels and Archangels, but also Thrones, Dominions and Powers.

Amen

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~ by scalambra on December 9, 2011.

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