Sunday, December 4, 2011

And with... uh.... you.. uh... your... uh.... spirit....

Perhaps the biggest change in the Roman Mass translation begun on November 27 was the response to the words "The Lord be with you..."  It changed from "you, too, padre" uh... I mean it changed from "and also with you" to "And with your spirit."  We Lutherans might take note here because if it catches on we might change, too.  It was already under discussion before LSB was published in 2006 (the Roman Catholic Church took nearly a decade to finish this new translation and our Lutheran folks had a clue to this change).

What I thought was funny was the media coverage of how dramatic these changes were/are and how the whole future of Rome rested on four short words.  Well, it might interest you to know that the old mass translation was out of step with all the other languages into which the Latin was translated.  Yes, the Latin came first in the Roman Church and still does -- all other languages are translations of the uniform Latin text.

The Latin always had "et cum spiritu tuo" -- the question was how best to translate this phrase. The other languages were always more literal than the English translation that followed Vatican II.  So the French (et avec votre esprit), Polish (i z duchem twoim), Italian (e con il tuo spirito), Spanish (y con tu espíritu), German (und mit deinem Geiste), Slovak (s duchom tvojim), Danish (Og med din ånd), and doubtless all other national translalions ALWAYS had it this way -- and with your spirit.

Now I have no horse in this race.  LSB has chosen 'and also with you' and this is what will stand until or if the next book changes things.  But I am amazed at how radical this "new" translation has become for folks on both sides of the Vatican II divide.  You want radical?  Take a look at the shift from the Common Service of 1888 (in TLH and SBH variations) and the form of LBW or LW.  Now that was a shift.  And, we survived.  Now to be sure, there are still cranky voices complaining about LBW/LW and insisting this was the demise of the church as we knew it.  But there are some fruits born of this liturgical change...

  1. The removal of page 5 -- the Order of Morning Worship without Communion -- has led to more frequent Eucharists across the Lutheran board and no longer is the dry mass the norm for Lutherans on Sunday morning.  It was not the only cause for this change, but it did help big time...
  2. The awakening to a whole new body of hymnody and some pretty darn good hymn writers that has dramatically enhanced the connection between what we sing in the liturgy and what we hear in the lectionary.  We lost a few I wish we had not  but we gained a whole lot more.  To be sure, some of the new will not last but LSB has the strongest hymn section of any Lutheran hymnal today (including TLH).
  3. The vast majority of parishes have the new book.  No longer are we fractured between TLH and LW (with a few LBWs thrown in).  What could not have been done in 1982 was accomplished in 2006 and LW was one of the things that paved the way for a book that nearly all LCMS parishes call their hymnal (even if some of them don't use it all that often).
It took me six months to introduce LW to my first parish.  We learned not only the words but the music.  It became the church's book there, encouraged the shift to a weekly Eucharist, solidified the chanting of the liturgy by both Pastor and people, and we learned a ton of new hymns.  We moved from TLH through a period of a gospel hymnal (before my time) to the restored TLH and then LW.  It was a lot of change.  But that congregation rediscovered their Lutheran identity -- in good measure through that liturgical change.

It took one Sunday for the people to learn "and with your spirit" in the Roman Catholic corner of Christendom (perhaps because they said it 4-5 times in one mass).  Come on, you media types.  Where were you when real change hit the pews!  Why we Lutherans could have gotten this down pat by second inning of the Divine Service.  And it wasn't even new!  (But then, some of those changes introduced by LW were not so new, either.)  So Advent II is coming and you have another shot at the changes.  I expect there may be some fruits of this "new" more like the "old" mass in Rome... if you wait long enough, give it time, and use it as a teaching moment!  In this aspect of liturgical change, we are all in it together.


Kari said...

I remember saying "and with your spirit". Isn't that what we sang before LW? In TLH? Why was it changed? To follow Rome?

Terry Maher said...

You got it, Kari. Right along with all the other neo-Roman stuff. "And with thy spirit" is in TLH.

Nonetheless -- everybody take a deep breath now -- pastor's point is well taken.

The media hype over all this is, as Shakespeare called a sneeze, much achoo about nothing.

For all its faults -- passing over without mention the Vatican II wannabeism included in it -- LSB stands head and shoulders over any other recent service book out there. It has a wonderful collection of hymns, a body that does not stand static with the classic hymnists, and an even more wonderful version of the Common Service in DS III.

Both of which are changes that aren't changes, but living tradition, not a new product with a traditional look or a pastiche of this and that from here and there.

Even the wannabe stuff is better than the original! Look at how DSI and II get right the greeking up of the Kyrie by actually presenting a short version of the First Litany of the Eastern Rite from which it came, rather than mangle it into a penitential prayer as the novus ordo does, for example!

Watching LSB come about from the WELS sidelines is one of the big reasons why I switched synods.

Stepping back from our wannabe "And also with you" would not at all be following Rome -- both because as pastor pointed out it was only the English translation of the new order that departed from it, and our doing that too was the following Rome, and because "and with thy (OK, your, fine, since we don't use the second person familiar all that much in English now) spirit" is the usage of the ceremonies previously in use which our Confession say we RETAIN, and which we did until lately.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I agree completely with both pastor and Terry. This would indeed be a first for me. Well said Terry!

Anonymous said...

Wow, my church has always done "and with your spirit." LSB is just wrong on this one...

-Peter Sovitzky

Pastor Peters said...

In the beginning I did not think the change to "And also with you" was such a big concern. What we have done with it has made it so. It has become the liturgical "back at you" which has both diminished and distorted the holy greeting of the servant of God (Pastor) and the people of God (those in the pews). I liked the restoration of the greeting of peace (although we do it right after the absolution so that it flows from the forgiveness we just received from God) but, again, this too has become casual talk time in which the weather, a forgotten recipe, the state of the kids or the job or the ill family member have replaced the holy "peace be with you."

Yes, I know it is a lack of teaching but it is also swimming upstream in a casual society in which the old distinctions between sacred and profane are gone.

We could switch back to "And with thy (your) spirit," but that would not in and of itself answer the problem at hand. So the wording change ended up being a bit more costly than it returned to us and yet the landscape of society and church have made "and also with you" the perfect mood for what the people are thinking.

Anonymous said...

"We Lutherans might take note here because if it catches on we might change, too."


When I was growing up Lutherans always used the response "and with thy spirit." So did Catholics. For them, it's really a restoration, not a "new" text.

What's really funny is that the ELCA is now out of step with both the LCMS and the Catholic church.

Birkholz said...

"And with thy Spirit" is still in LSB DS III. While I prefer this response, the least the editors of LSB could have done is settled on a common response accross the different settings.

I can understand the reasoning for leaving the wording of LSB DS III as close to TLH p. 15 as possible, so that the TLH parishes that never made the transition to LW (or LBW) would be more likely to adopt LSB, but I would like to see a uniform text for the DS, with a variety of music settings.