Saturday, August 21, 2010
The Power of Well Written Words
Let me illustrate what I mean (the first three are borrowed from Ft. Z at What Does The Prayer Really Say?).
Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis,
da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis,
id desiderare quod promittis,
ut, inter mundanas varietates,
ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.
Current Translation Used:
help us to seek the values
that will bring us lasting joy
in this changing world.
In our desire for what you promise
make us one in mind and heart.
O God, You who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will,
grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command,
to desire that which You promise,
so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world,
our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.
Now, since most readers are Lutheran, let me put the collects from LSB and ELW in place to compare how language is treated.
O God, form the minds of your faithful people into your one will.
Make us love what you command and desire what you promise,
that, amid all the changes of this world,
our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will.
Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise,
that among the many changes of this world
our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found;
through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Lutherans went through the same troubled time and first proposed this version of the collect in the ILCW Lectionary way back in 1973:
form the minds of your faithful people into a single will.
Make us love what you command and
desire the gifts that you promise,
the source of true joy;
through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
And in the interest of accuracy, the first English version of this prayer (1549) says:
whiche doest make the myndes of all faythfull men to be of one wil;
graunt unto thy people, that they maye love the thyng, whiche thou commaundest,
and desyre, that whiche thou doest promes [promise];
that emong the sondery [sundry] and manifold chaunges of the worlde,
oure heartes maye surely there bee fixed,
whereas true joyes are to be founde;
through Christe our Lorde.
Now my point is this -- language either communicates by lifting the words to their noble purpose or it descends to the barest form, the minimum of communication, that the plainest form of expression say what is said. In preaching we need a bit of both -- eloquence that calls the heart and mind to ascend and plain expression that allows the hearer to know and take home the application of the Word to daily life through the lens of Law and Gospel. But in the liturgy, the language must ascend, capturing the eloquence of our noblest expression while at the same time communicating to us the heavenly gift and grace that God has brought to us in the ordinary of human words, rushing water, simple bread, and taste of wine.
Today I do not want to argue so much or to foment discussion as to allow you to read through the various versions of the collect and see which both communicates well and nobly the prayer of this day. I am personally thankful that the eloquent language of the collects was preserved with the desire to make them current and modern -- in a timeless way -- in Lutheran Service Book. You pray them and think upon them, pondering the gift and power of language and how God would have us use His gift best...