3 April 2017

The Ordinariate Missal throughout all ages world without end.

In the Byzantine Rite, prayers often end eis tous aionas ton aionon (unto the ages of ages); and in the Roman Rite, per omnia saecula saeculorum (through all the ages of ages), although in saecula is not unknown. The Ordinariate Missal, basing itself on the the Anglican Prayer Book dialect, renders this by World without end.

I imagine the Hebrew le'olam 'lamim lies behind this. The English phrase goes back in Middle English well behind Cranmer ... I wonder if it occurs in the Primers? I have found it in the translation of the Canon made for polemic purposes by the appalling Miles Coverdale, chaplain to the largely mercenary foreign army which slaughtered the Catholic peasantry of Cornwall in 1549.

In one particular place ... at the end of the Canon of the Mass ... the Ordinariate Missal, following the Anglo-Catholic liturgical books, translates it more amply as Throughout all ages world without end. This is because world without end doesn't have enough syllables to sustain the chant (in the Latin Missals) of per omnia saecula saeculorum. The Authorised Version thus translated eis pasas tas geneas tou aionos ton aionon; amen at Ephesians 3:21. Thomas Winger's admirable and immensely rich new Lutheran Commentary on Ephesians comments "This particular combination of words is unique among biblical doxologies, but combines features found elsewhere". He describes ages of ages as, first a semitic qualitative genitive and secondly a superlative genitive; in which he sees eschatological references (vide Ephesians 1:21 and 2:2).

Winger goes on to discuss the English phrases, pointing out that world  held the archaic meaning of age. "As world lost this meaning, it was feared that the phrase might be misunderstood as implying the eternality of the earth, of fallen creation. Modern hymnals adopted the insipid translation forever and ever, which, unfortunately, lost the reference to the Messianic age", the new Age inauguated by Christ.

Nice to know that the best of the more traditional Lutheran Bibilical scholarship (which is what Winger gives us) can affirm the importance of avoiding the insipidities of modern translators, and emphasise the rich depths and layers of meaning in 'archaic' renderings! This is a point affirmed by the profound and important Roman document Liturgiam authenticam.

Which, according to current rumours, the seedy little men who try to achieve their ends by influencing our Holy Father hope to be able to dismantle.


Little Black Sambo said...

Does the Ordinariate Missal use "appalling" Coverdale's translation of the Canon?

Tom Broughton said...

In Spanish they say "por los siglos de los siglos." (Through centuries of the centuries.)

Pastor in Monte said...

The closest I've come to is a versified one from the York Hours of the Cross:

…þu þat liues, þu þat reynnes, god with-owten ende
in werld of werles with ioy þat euer sal lende.

published in The Lay Folks' Mass Book, Early English Text Society no 71, 1879

But I'm sure I've come across 'world without end' in a pre-Reformation setting before. I just can't remember where. If I find it, I'll add it.

Anonymous said...

Could it not be Father that The Age of the Messiah ended at Pentecost when the Holy Ghost the Divine Eternal Spirit of Supernatural Love and Sanctifying Grace signed a Covenant with the New Sacrifice with tongues of Fire, a new and eternal covenant?

William Tighe said...

I once knew an Episcopalian clergyman who, in the 1970s, ended such prayers "in a world without end, Amen."

E sapelion said...

The Worcester Antiphoner has "per infinita secula seculorum"(sic) and "per immortalia secula seculorum" in the Laudes Regiae (as I read it, the transcription in Paleographie Musicale XII p.75 does not note the "immortalia" but leaves out that whole line) All three directly refer to Christ's reign. "Christus vincit Christus regnat Christus imperat, Ipsi soli ... "

Maureen Lash said...

I think, when considering the Ordinariate's use of Myles 'Patrimony' Coverdale's translations of the Psalter and Roman Canon, one has to take the view that, "appalling" though he might have been, he nevertheless, like Balaam, for all his striving to do otherwise, could not help but do the Lord's work.

Grupo editorial said...

Tom Broughton:

In Spanish, "siglo" not only means "century", but also "age" and "world". Granted, those meanings are archaic, but they are there.


Vincent Uher said...

If I had not lost my library to a hurricane, I would be able to point to a fine pamphlet by a Nun of Wantage upon the subject. But, alas, I only have my senescent recollections from which to draw.

'World' arising from a variety of ancient forms (weorold, worold, wereld, wouruld) has only recently come to be interpreted as 'globe' or 'planet'. World could express an age or ages (plural), or the created order round about us, or humanity as a social order, mankind as a divine order of society...

I have always viewed the liturigcal use of "world without end" as holding all of these meanings in view within the light of Christ. An expression such as "throughout all ages world without end" is especially wonderful to me as it includes both the strict Latin saecula together with this broader vision of the divine order of ages beyond number which shall have no end.

Anonymous said...

Father, thank you very much for quoting a phrase of the traditional doxology as an example for traditional liturgical language. In the German Lutheran tradition, the doxology reads

Ehre sei dem Vater und dem Sohne und dem Heiligen Geiste.
Wie es war im Anfang, jetzt und immerdar,
und von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit. Amen

This beautiful traditional liturgical gem was removed from the Lutheran liturgical books in the early 90th of the last century, after almost 500 years of use. It was replaced instead by a boring phrase, which has the great advantage, however, that it is "ecumenic", e.g. it was decided by a joint conference of delegations from different Christian denominations, as what everyone could agree, but nobody likes. It would have been much better, if the Catholic church when introducing the vernacular in the 70th would have applied the existing, century-old liturgical language of the Lutherans. The same can be said about the German Translations of the Magnificat, several psalms and other important liturgical texts, sanctified by century-long use, which all have been thrown away in the recent years and are not in the liturgical use anymore. I am belonging to the poor generation which had to face all this liturgical rupture. Now, however, I found liturgical peace in the traditional latin mass in which, fortunately, no "surprises" are to be expected every Sunday morning, depending on the whims of the pastors. I still would prefer, however, a Catholic service in traditional Lutheran liturgical German with the old, beautiful hymns, but fully in accordance with the Catholic faith and approved by the Catholic authorities, like it seems you have it in the English speaking world in form of your Ordinariate Missal and book of hymns.