Monday, November 3, 2014
The pursuit of vernacular. . .
"Liturgical Latin, as constituted towards the end of Christian Antiquity and preserved unchanged - in its main lines at least - is a deliberately sacral stylisation of Early Christian Latin as it gradually developed in the Christian communities of the West. The Latin Christians were comparatively late in creating a liturgical language. When they did so, the Christian idiom had already reached full maturity and circumstances rendered it possible to draw, for purposes of style, on the ancient sacral heritage of [pagan] Rome ... As regards the plea which we hear so often for vernacular versions of the prayer texts, I think ... that we are justified in asking whether, at the present time, the the introduction of the vernacular would be suitable for the composition of sacral prayer style. As I have pointed out, the early Christian West waited a long time before adopting the use of Latin. It waited until the Christian language possessed the resources necessary to create an official ecclesiastical prayer language. ... the modern, so-called Western languages ... are less suitable for sacred stylisation. And yet we must realise that sacral stylisation forms an essential element of every official prayer language and that this sacral, hieratic character cannot, and should never, be relinquished. From the point of view of the general development of the Western languages - to say nothing of the problems raised by other languages - the present time is certainly not propitious for the abandonment of Latin".
The Dutch Classicist Christine Mohrmann, in a long series of articles and books in all the main European languages, she demonstrated that Liturgical Latin (and, indeed, Liturgical Greek) were never intended to be be vernaculars. Indeed, they were intentionally formal, archaic, and hieratic. So, for example, King James English was not the common speech of the day but a particularized speech intended for use in the faith, where thees and thous were not mere formalisms but the direction of a whole liturgical language. It was this stylized language that became the liturgical idiom of the Book of Common Prayer under the leadership of Archbishop Cranmer, whose ability to let the language soar remains unparalleled in the history of liturgical English.
I wish I could tell you more about this author and her thesis but this is all I have for now and this, through the Rev. Fr. Hunwicke (HT to him) but it sounds intriguing to me... what about you???