Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Translating the Creed...

In the run up to the revised (some would say "corrected") translation of the missal there was some controversy over the word consubstantial in the Creed. Apparently this ugly Latinism is more orthodox than "of one being with." I would argue that the word consubstantial is inferior not only on aesthetic grounds but on the principle that it is not a translation; two letters have been cut off the end! And in terms of theology, how can you argue that one language is better expressive of the high trinitarian doctrine than another? If you followed this principle we'd all be worshipping in Greek! Nobody can argue that substantia and οὐσία mean precisely the same thing in all subtleties. It's like the words visible and invisible; do not seen and unseen sound better? Or worshipped as opposed to adored. Just because a word is not of Latin derivation, does not make it inferior or suspect.

Below are the texts, and you can make your own minds up but, as always, I would argue strongly in favour of the old ICEL. In most respects, it's decidedly more English than the turgid, halting and artificial rubbish that came in 2011. That's probably the subconscious underlying reason the traditionalists hated it so much. I have seen far too often on traditionalist blogs an open contempt for the English language; one blogger, otherwise liturgically sensible at times, said that we were "condemned to a bastard Germanic language well removed from the tongues of liturgy." Another, much older, blogger has often derided English albeit in his profession that can be forgiven. But as someone devoted to the English language in purpose of heart and mind I find this attitude shameful.

International Consultation on English Texts 1975 version (that which I grew up with).

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one LORD, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us [men]* and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the LORD, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

*I pasted the text from Wikipedia but the word men was missing therefrom. I have inserted it because I remember reciting it like this as a boy.

The 2011 crap...

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one LORD Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the LORD, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Latin text.

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, Factorem cæli et terræ, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei Unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia sæcula.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de cælis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato; passus, et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in cælum, sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem: qui ex Patre procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.
Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi sæculi. Amen.

Now, if I were to translate the Creed from Latin into English myself, my translation would be far closer to the 1975 version, albeit I would use a few different words and devices. But like the traditional version (!), it would roll off the tongue as good language does. The 2011 version is just cumbrous with unEnglish forms.

10 comments:

  1. So then, have a go at it and translate the creed so we can see if it "rolls off the tongue" while maintaining theological integrity.

    Longinus

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    1. I have seen some beautiful Tudor English renderings of such liturgical texts as the Gloria in Excelsis in Manuals and Primers, mostly quoted in liturgical scholars like Duffy and Crichton. The best translation of the Creed into English I have seen is Cranmer's own but I'm not that keen on it.

      I'm actually in the process of devising a Mass rite for penitential days right now. I may post it ere long.

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  2. Have you deleted the "filioque" due to you're recent move toward Orthodoxy or was it deleted by the RC hierarchy? It's been forty years since I had any relationship with the RCC and am not familiar with their current usages and translations.

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    1. Naturally, the official texts of the RC version of the Creed include the Filioque. I omitted it on purpose.

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  3. Why reinvent the wheel? There are plenty of musical settings for the Prayer Book version:

    I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made: Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man, And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.
    And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, The giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets.
    And I believe One Holy Catholick and Apostolick Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

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    1. Byrd's Great Service is my favourite.

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  4. I disagree with what you say about seen and unseen being equivalent to visible and invisible. If I hide under a table I might be unseen but I am certainly not invisible. Visible and invisible are definitely superior in the context of the Creed.

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    1. Vlad,

      I agree, I've used your analogy to explain the difference to various modernists and other assorted heretics.

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  5. This is mere Saxonist affectation. Why not "enfleshed" for "incarnate", and so forth?

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    1. I think it's slightly more than affectation. And I would say "took flesh," rather than enfleshed which sounds cumbrous. I am rather busy on another project at the moment but I may post my own translation before long.

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