Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Translation: Awkward wording in the doxology

While I am for the most part pleased with the new English translation of the Roman Missal — what I've read and heard of it — there are a few awkwardly worded sections.

In this post, I'd like to examine one example: the concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer.  In the old translation, the priest said:
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
almighty Father,
forever and ever.
This is a decent (although not exact) translation of the Latin, which reads:
Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso,
est tibi Deo Patri omnipoténti,
in unitáte Spíritus Sancti,
omnis honor, et glória,
per ómnia sæcula sæculórum.
If you haven't noticed, I'm putting the prepositions in bold. Here is a strict word-for-word translation:
By him, and with him, and in him,
is to you God Father almighty,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honor and glory,
during all ages of ages.
And here's how it is rendered in the new translation:
Through him, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
forever and ever.
As you can see, the individual lines of the prayer have been re-arranged to match their order in the Latin, but I think it ends up being a little anti-climactic. The order of the Latin phrases is not, in this case, necessary to the form of the prayer; this is not a collect, for example, where the prayer takes the form of "O God, who did X, we ask you, grant us Y."

There is another problem which exists in both the old and the new translation: a missing preposition. This may not seem like a big deal, but the Latin does not simply say that all glory and honor is the Father's; it specifically says that all glory and honor is (that is, it goes) to the Father by (through), in, and with the Son, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit. This small detail is not captured by either translation, and can be tricky to convey in natural-sounding English.

1 comment:

Dan Z. said...

In the EF, "per ómnia sæcula sæculórum" is (unofficially) translated in Latin-English missals as "world without end". I think they should have used that instead of "forever and ever", which actually sounds a little childish.