26 September 2015

Originally posted on April 24 this year. 

That charismatic writer and teacher of the 1950s and 1960s, the distinguished liturgist Fr Louis Bouyer, in his Memoires [published 2014; a kind friend sent me these extracts in French before the English translation was published], tells of his own involvement with the composition of Eucharistic Prayer II.

He was summoned to join the sub-commission charged with inventing the new 'Missal'; after seeing the drafting work aleady done, his instinct was to leave the group instantly ... but Dom Bernard Botte persuaded him to stay, even if only to obtain a less dreadful result. He agreed. I give you my own probably inaccurate translation [corrections welcomed with a sigh of relief] of Bouyer's vivid account of the gumming together of what has, so very sadly, become by far the most commonly used Eucharistic Prayer during this past half-century in the Western Church: Eucharistic Prayer II; the older parts of which, in the 1960s, were thought to be connected with an early Roman writer called Hippolytus.

"You'll have an idea of the deplorable conditions in which this indecently speedy reform (reforme a la sauvette) was pushed forward, when I have told you how the Second Eucharistic Prayer was tied up (ficelee). Between the fanatics who were archaeologising wildly and at random, who would have wanted to ban the Sanctus and the Intercessions from the EP, adopting the Eucharist of Hippolytus just as it was, and the others who didn't give a damn about (qui se fichaient pas mal de) his pretended Apostolic Tradition but only wanted a botched (baclee) Mass, Dom Botte and I were charged with patching up the text so as to introduce these elements, which are certainly very ancient ... in time for the very next morning! By chance, I discovered, in a writing perhaps by Hippolytus himself but certainly in his style, a happy formula on the Holy Spirit which could make a transition, of the Vere Sanctus type, leading into the brief epiclesis. Botte, for his part, fabricated an intercession more worthy of Paul Reboux [a belle epoque humourist and producer of witty pastiches] and his In the Style of ... than of his own areas of academic competence. But I can never reread this weird (invraisemblable) composition without recalling the terrace of the bistro in the Trastevere where we had to work carefully at our allotted drudgery (pensum), so as to be in a position to present ourselves, with it in our hands, at the Bronze Gate at the time fixed by our bosses." [Botte recalls in his own memoires that the Pensionato in which he stayed was too full of red, purple, and cassocks; "my only break was to eat my meals in the little public restaurants on the nearby streets ..."]

I am very thankful, and I know you are as well, that the Trastevere was so much more respectable by the 1960s than it is said to been a generation before Bouyer's time; otherwise this somewhat racy narrator might have been tempted to describe Eucharistic Prayer II as "misbegotten among the filles de joie of the Trastevere". Yes, I knew that would make your mind bogle. It is a shame Bouyer gives no account of which bistro was graced by this historic moment of liturgical history; if he had done so, enthusiasts could even now be planning to gather there for a Solemn Pontifical Liturgical Commemoration of the genesis of this unworthy little Prayer; poor Guido Marini acting as MC with an expression like curdled milk. And Clio should have considered it her duty to preserve the name of the barman who so liberally supplied the crucial drinks ... little did he know how crucial a role he was playing in the corruption of the worship of the Latin Church for the next (quot?) generations. And if only Bouyer had transcribed the menu; that would have given you something agreeable with which to distract yourselves next time you have no choice but to attend an O-God-but-at-least-it's-certainly-valid-and-so-it-fulfills-my-Sunday-Obligation celebration of the Great Sacrifice. (Instead, devise the words in which you will politely remind the celebrant on your way out that Prayer II, according to the GIRM, is not intended for Sunday use ... as Michael Caine used to say, "Not many people know that".)

The next paragraph begins with Bouyer informing us that the Novus Ordo Calendar was the "oeuvre d'un trio de maniaques". He also describes Archbishop Bugnini as meprisable and aussi depourvu de culture que de simple honnetete, all of which really does totally defeat either my schoolboy French or my plain old-style Anglo-Saxon sense of decency de mortuis; I'm not sure which. It's such a terrible burden being an Englishman.

37 comments:

ChrisB said...

I love Fr. Bouyer's "The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism." It showed how profound was his hope for Christian re-unification.

It would be a great service to have some trusted Catholic people translate his memoirs into English and publish them, so that we poor "proles" can understand exactly who the Bugnini gang were, and the abuse the did to our Holy Liturgy.

Edward Ahlsen-Girard said...

Meprisable I do not know, but I would render "aussi depourvu de culture que de simple honnetete" as "as much lacking culture as simple honesty."

William Tighe said...

Two little points: (1) I think that the phrase "reforme a la sauvette" carries implications of furtiveness as well as of "indecent haste;" (2) and also that "baclee" (in "une Messe baclee") has connotations of haste in preparation as well as of slovenliness or botching in result.

Stephen said...

Whence the newest innovation to EPII:
"like the dewfall"?

S Thorfinn said...

Rorate touched lightly on this topic last November, though not including the extended translation above. I was shocked, but not surprised -- is there a neat term that captures this typical reaction to the assult of modernity?

Gerry Davila said...

Oh my! One more reason to use the Roman Canon.

Woody said...

Thank you for this translation. However, the more I discover about the "invention" of the Novus Ordo, the more it angers me that it is still allowed to remain. Father, what were they trying to do? Do you think their intentions were really good? I have such doubts about "good" intentions on behalf of those priests who allowed the Novus Ordo to go forward, even up to some popes. And I do mean some recent popes, too.

Rose Marie said...

Oh, Father, where else would we get these jewels? You provide the same relief I experienced on reading Card. Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy. He explained why I was so uncomfortable with the Novus Ordo. So do you, but with P. Bouyer's help, it's so much more fun! Must get his Memoires.

Adrian Furse said...

Like the dewfall = sicut rore

poly carped said...

"Paul VI, discussing with Bouyer afterwards about these reforms “that the Pope found himself approving, not being satisfied about them any more than I was,” asked him. “Why did you all get mired in this reform?” And Bouyer [replied], “Because Bugnini kept assuring us that you absolutely wanted it.” To which Paul VI [responded]: “But how is this possible? He told me that you were all unanimous in approving it…”

I find this quote from Bouyer's memoirs (as given in the Rorate article mentioned by S Thorfinn) very disturbing; although it seems Bouyer probably made mention of this in order to defend PPVI and to highlight Bugnini's character and agenda, it actually clearly demonstrates the complete lack of control and oversight that Pope Paul VI had over a process which ought to have been of the utmost importance to him (or rather which shouldn't have happened in the first place - but you get my drift). So very sad.

Raider Fan said...

I am always hoping that someday we will be told that, late in life, A. Bugnini sounded like this man:

https://youtu.be/tRHVMi3LxZE

William Tighe said...


Towards the end of his Memoires Fr. Bouyer reflects about how his experience of the Council and its ensuing "refrom," as well as his involvement in "ecumenical dialogues" (especially with Anglicans - and he had a lot of English Anglican friends, such as Eric Mascall and Michael Ramsey, to name but two - he seems less critical of that with the Orthodox, with which he was also involved) disabused him of his previous strong belief in "conciliarity;" and so removed the last remaining influence of theologians such as Johann Adam Möhler (1796-1838) and Alexei Khomiakov (1804-1860) upon his ecclesiological views.

Raider Fan said...

...is there a neat term that captures this typical reaction to the assult of modernity?

I self identify as existing amongst the Flummoxed Faithful

Stephen said...

So all this is the work of the Magisterium, correct? Is there no counterbalance in western ecclesiology to clericalism run amok? Where does the sense if the faithful cone into play?

TantamErgo said...

If EPII was just created on the spot..and I heard it today at daily Mass, then how does that make it valid? Does it invalidate the Mass of it was just concocted up

Victoria said...

Poly Carped, would you please supply a link to the source of the conversation between Pope Paul VI and Bouyer.

Matthew said...

In a recent Tablet the unfortunate "dewfall" was alleged to be an Americanism, which was denied. I think it was introduced to the Anglophone liturgical vocabulary by the agnostic Mrs Maxtone Graham ("Jan Struther") in one of her better-known doctrine-free contributions to "Songs of Praise", "Morning has broken". Well done, Percy Dearmer!

Banshee said...

"Dewfall" dates back to 1622. Hardy used it in his poem "Afterwards." It means "the formation of dew, or the time when dew begins to form."

One may suspect that the obscure modern song referenced in the comments was copying the word off Eleanor Farjeon's "Morning Is Broken."

Stephen said...

And hear I thought it was all Cat Stevens 'ere his conversion.

But I truly was asking why it was added only just recently to the forced epiclesis in EPII, and what source was used to come up with it.

"Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray,
by sending down your spirit upon them like the dewfall"

http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Missal/Text/EP2-A4.pdf

The Moderate Jacobite said...

Stephen, it hasn't only been added recently.

The text of the prayer in Latin at this point is:

"Haec ergo dona, quaesumus, Spiritus tui rore sanctifica."

As you note, the new(ish) translation of the Mass renders this:

"Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall."

Formerly this was rendered:

"Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy."

The reference to 'dewfall' comes from the Latin 'rore' which was entirely ignored in the earlier translation. It was always there in the Latin.

William Tighe said...

What do you mean by "only just recently?" It has been there in the Latin text all along, although obscured by the quondam official translation.

Matthew said...

'Morning has broken' -- of course it was Eleanor Farjeon and not 'Jan Struther', who gave us 'Lord of all hopefulness'; both, however, came to popularity through their inclusion in Percy Dearmer's S of P. The word 'dewfall' did indeed already exist, but I would be very surprised if it had made an earlier appearance in liturgical or para-liturgical texts.

Stephen said...

Yes, dewfall was nonexistent in earlier translations, but whence its origin to begin with? Not that I'm a scholar, but I do try to pay attention and show up with some regularity, and yet I've never heard or read any reference in eastern liturgics comparing the Holy Spirit to the dewfall. Did these blokes just make it up in their cozy Roman tavernas?

Figulus said...

Perhaps it was intended to refer in an oblique way to "rorate caeli desuper...", bedew, o heavens, from above..., from Isaiah 45:8.

KaeseEs said...

Fr. Hunwicke,

Sorry to dig up an old comment thread, but Bouyer mentions "archaeologising wildly and at random" in general and the pseudo-Roman pseudo-Anaphora of pseudo-Hippolytus specifically. It strikes me that, in many late nineteenth through mid twentieth century works of the Liturgical Movement and various presumptive reformers, a lot of very confident pronouncements were made (such as the assertion that the supposed Apostolic Tradition of the supposed Hippolytus was indeed an older Roman Eucharistic Prayer) that later turned out to be wrong - Jungmann and Fortescue seem like the poster children of this sort of thing to this layman's eyes. Have any works from this era held up better? I was considering getting a copy of Gihr's "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: Liturgically, Dogmatically and Ascetically Explained" for a friend entering seminary shortly, but I'd rather not if he's going to need to cross-check every historical note in the book with something more recent.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear K

Fortescue is seriously flawed because he is fighting the battles, picking over the talking points, of a century ago. Jungmann is different; his book is a veritable treasury of facts about the Roman Rite. It is basic for anybody serious about the Roman Rite. It has not been superseded because, firstly, it is so encyclopedic; secondly, because, soon after it was published and the English translation was done, people lost interest in the Classical Roman Rite and dissipated their energies on being fearfully clever about inventing a new one.

I am sorry; I do not know Gihr.

Little Black Sambo said...

"Pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing" - Book of Common Prayer.

William Tighe said...


Don't forget Geoffrey Willis's posthumously-published (1994) little book:

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/SearchResults?an=willis&sts=t&tn=history+of+early+roman

which is as delightful in style, as it is in substance (even if inclined to give a little too much credence to Pseudo-Hippolytus).

Joshua said...

Jungmann's book (in two volumes) is marvellous; I am always dipping into it. Gihr I have consulted, and I would say it is trustworthy.

Sean said...

Father, I do read your blog daily. I've noticed, though, that some of your entries will appear (partially) in my feed reader, but are not accessible by going to your website directly. Today I can see that your two entries from yesterday as well as your entry from today (Isis Regina and Cardinal Ravasi 2) do not appear. I am certain I will benefit from reading if only I could find them.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Sorry, Sean. I am technologically challenged, and sometimes, when I've drafted a piece intending to 'bank' it for future use, I accidentally prod the wrong button so that it briefly enters the readable world before, a few seconds later, I manage to drag it back under wraps. Sorry about that!

Andreas said...

ROS roris. m. Humor, qui serena nocte in plantis colligitur

RORALIS e. Adj. Ovid. Fast. 4, 28 de lustratione in sacris, Virgaque rorales laurea misit aquas.

RORIFER era, erum. Adj. Aura rorifera Senec. Hippol. v. 11. Biga Lunae rorifera Stat. Theb. 1, 338. Umbris roriferis terram nox obruit Lucret. 6, 864.

RORIFLUUS a, um. Rorifluam sectemur carmine lunam Vetus Poëta Catalect. 2 p. 239. edit. Scalig.

RORULENTUS a, um. Adi. Plenus rore

ROSCIDUS a, um. Adj. Quod est rore conspersum; unde Nox roscida, rore humecta Plin. 18, 28. et 2, 62. it. 3, 12 [...].

ROSIDUS a, um. Idem. Columel. 5, 6, 10 Rosidum et nebulosum solum. Et 3, 1, 6 Rosida caeli qualitas. Et Virgae rosidae 4, 30, 6.

RORIDUS a, um. Idem. Propert. 2, 23, 27. Vid. ibi Brouckhus.

RORARIUS a, um. Adi. Rorarii milites dicebantur, Qui armatura levi praelium primi committebant: quod ut ante pluvias caelum rorare solet, sic illi ante gravem armaturam qui prodibant, rorarii appellabantur.

RORO are. Humorem instar roris paullatim destillare.

RORANS antis. Partic. Lucret. 3, 470

RORATUS a, um. Partic. Ovid. Fast. 3, 357

RORATIO onis. f. Morbus est vitium, quem vulgo Colaturam vocamus.

RORAMENTUM i. n. Capitolin. in Vero 10 Capiti auri roramenta respergere

RORESCO ere. Rore adspergi.

Mike Hurcum said...

I see the mention of lord of all hopefullness. Dreadful hymn do we not also sing in this horrible plantain, "I give you my will?" Absolute heresy: God gave us free will He cannot take it back. He will not take it back period

Sean said...

Father,

Not at all. Whets the appetite!

motuproprio said...

Re: Mike Hurcum
That line is from a different hymn, though often sung to the same tune, 'Lord of all power'- words by Jack Winslow.

Jhf884 said...

Bouyer is interesting indeed.

Fr PJM said...

It is an allusion to the Manna in the desert which was formed with morning dew.