An hour ago I had the
luck presence of mind nudge from my guardian angel to turn on EWTN and see how the bishops were doing with their meeting in Baltimore. Within minutes of tuning in, I gasped as Archishop Aymond, chairman of the committee on Divine Worship, took the podium to discuss (insert drum roll here) the proposed revision of the American breviary! Apparently enthusiasm for the new missal has emboldened Catholics to ask that the Liturgy of the Hours be similarly renewed and reinvigorated with a more faithful translation, and our bishops are actually responding.
I’d heard a rumor in September that this subject would be brought up, but feared it would be shelved in favor of giving time to more pressing matters related to the healthcare mandate or the proposed document on employment. But thanks be to God, not so. I leaped for the laptop, when I saw what was about to happen. Today’s session was a presentation of the worship committee’s preliminary decisions. The other bishops were then given the chance to ask clarifying questions. Actual debate on the proposals will take place tomorrow. What follows is from my hastily typed notes with my own reactions in bold. Here we go:
Archbishop Aymond opened by saying that ever since the new missal translation was implemented last year, there were frequent inquiries and requests for a revised translation of the breviary. As a result, the committee requested Rome for permission to pursue a “more up to date” edition of the breviary,and one that would be more in harmony with the Latin edition (editio typica). [Yay! We did it! Kudos to everyone who ever wrote the USCCB or their own bishops about this. I had heard earlier that a new breviary was on the back burner, behind new translations of rituals for sacraments. Now it’s on the front burner!]
Next, Archbishop Aymond mentioned several proposed modifications that were in mind. And the bishops who asked questions based on the handout’s they’d received indicated that there were several more:
1. The Revised Grail Psalms would be the new psalter.[We already knew this but now it’s official.]
2. The translation for the Benedictus and the Magnificat would remain the same because of long familiarity.[this makes some sense because people have them memorized.]
3.The Te Deum would be re-translated.
4.The Holy See said not to attempt re-translating the Office of Readings second readings, in the interest of not making the project drag on for years. [Amen!]
5.Hymns will be English translations of the official Latin breviary hymns! [Yay! Morning Has Broken shall decrease, Conditor Alme Siderum will increase!!!]
6. Psalm prayers will be eliminated to make the text match the Latin edition.[look for lively discussion of this one tomorrow. Bishop Fiorenza expressed dismay in the question period.]
7.The doxology (Glory Be) is still under discussion as to whether it should be the traditional (world without end.Amen) version, or something else. Archbishop Aymond acknowledged that discussion in the committee on this point was lively. In the clarification questions that followed from the floor, Cardinal O’Malley said he was pleased that the Glory Be was being reconsidered. He pleaded for the traditional version, saying that the only uniform prayers catholics had left at the moment were the Our Father and the Sign of the Cross–that even the Hail Mary had it’s “thee vs. you” versions. [Right on, Cardinal Sean!]
Other clarifiying questions included a worthwhile request from Bishop Trautman that antiphons be changed to match the Grail Psalms. [A very sensible idea–to take the antiphons away from ICEL and give them to Conception Abbey to harmonize them with the psalms.]
When asked by Bishop Sheehan for a timeline on the whole process from new translations to approval from Rome to publication, Archbishop Aymond said three to five years. [Given how long it took to get the mass re-translated and implemented, I think 5 years is lovely, and if it were 3 I’d be delirious with joy]
Remember, gentle fan of the Divine Office, none of the above is in concrete. The actual debate on it all will take place tomorrow. I have no idea where on the schedule this is, but keep tuning into EWTN and maybe you will catch it.
This is progress. Te Deums are in order.