Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Eternal God. I wrote recently about the problems with the old, 1970s, translation of the Mass. Indeed, the problems with that translation were widely recognised very soon after it came into use. I will quote the words (2002) of a man who cannot be accused of any sympathy with Traditionalism: Archbishop Rembert Weakland, a "Spirit of Vatican II" prelate whose antipathy to Joseph Ratzinger's views on Liturgy were public and were very vigorously expressed. (His Wikipedia entry gives information about his financial, sexual, and architectural misdemeanours). "This restorationist movement [i.e. the views of Joseph Ratzinger, Aidan Nichols, and others] should be distinguished from the ongoing search for liturgical renewal according to the norms already established. Liturgists who were involved in the first liturgical reforms after the council consider that the renewal was halted in midstream and agree that many valid criticisms of the present state of affairs are in order. For example, in citing the low quality of some translations, they call for a more elevated and poetic style ...".
Accordingly, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) set to work in the 1980s and, in 1992, submitted a new translation of the Missal. It was generally agreed that it represented a considerable improvement upon its predecessor. But there was now a new kid now on the linguistic block. In just one decade, a new -ism had become dominant among fashionable liturgists: Feminism. Under this novel intellectual tyranny, gender-specific nouns became very unpopular; which was bad news for words like Lord. And it was also bad news for pronouns, which, notorously, "take the place of nouns", but can, in the English language and in the third person singular (he/she/him/her) be disgustingly gender-specific.
So, in the 1992 draft, the Preface did become closer to the Latin ... for a while. Here is that draft:
It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation
always and everywhere to give you thanks ... well, goodish so far ... but here comes line 4:
God of majesty and loving kindness.
You see what has happened. I explained last time how Lord represents the old Hebrew 'tetragrammton', YHWH, the august Name under which Moses and our spiritual ancestors, God's First People, addressed their God; I reminded you that Holy Father was the phrase characterising the Great High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in S John Chapter 17. But Lord and Father are, to some, unacceptably gender-specific. So the translators again applied the principle of 'Dynamic Equivalence' (go for the meaning and forget the words). Deus (God) was allowed to stay; Domine ... Omnipotens Aeterne ... (Lord ... Almighty Everlasting ...) were expressed by the word majesty; and the cuddliness assumed to be implicit in Pater (Father) was rendered by loving kindness. The same process can be seen at work in the translation, in 1992, of the Orate Fratres: ... will be pleasing to God for the Glory of God's name .... Pronouns exist to save you from continually repeating nouns ("Matilda needed to go shopping, so Matilda set out for Tescoes with Matilda's shopping list" becomes, for us unreformed and unneutered native English speakers, "Matilda needed to go shopping, so she set out for Tescoes with her shopping list"). But, for feminist liturgists, pronouns are a minefield.
When Rome considered this 1992 translation, all sorts of things hit all sorts of fans. For a while, there was some toying with the idea that it could be corrected. But it became clear that the new virus of feminist linguistics was too deeply embedded. In the end, Rome threw the whole lot out, hook, line, and sinker, and declared that Comme le prevoit, the document which prescribed the "Dynamic Equivalence" mode of translation, was no longer in force. The order went out that ICEL should be reformed and cleaned out. And a new Instruction about vernacular translations was, to the incandescent fury of Rome's critics, put in the place of Comme le prevoit. The new Instruction is a very fine and scholarly document indeed, and I will write a few words about it next time.