Monday, September 15, 2014

US Bishops to Catholics: "We Wear the Mitres, You Wear the Dunce Caps"

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, in my opinion the most beautiful of Marian feasts.

In today's Mass, there is an optional sequence to be sung or prayed.  It is the Stabat Mater, a 13th century hymn, whose stanzas are made up of rhyming couplets followed by a third line that rhymes with the next stanza's third line: AAB, CCB - like so ...

At the Cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed.

This is from the 19th century translation by Edward Caswall of the original Latin hymn.

But in the official version of Caswall's translation, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops have placed on their website some very odd changes, such as this ...

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

What the hell???  The official version on the website (and I assume in the Missals) includes only 16 of the 20 stanzas, which is strange - but far stranger are stanzas like this in which nothing rhymes with anything and which throws the whole hymn off.

... until you realize that this is done for our benefit because we're just so flipping stupid.  Because Caswall's translation of the above stanza rhymes, and it runs like this ...

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.

Oh!  That's it!  Since we're too ignorant and moronic to know that Thee means You, the bishops take care of that for us by destroying the rhyme and pretty much ruining the hymn.

Of course we don't know that Thine means Yours either, so they take care of that for us, too ...

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Our Lady of Sorrows?  More like Our Lady of Annoyance.


Zach said...

I thought it was supposed to be the age of the BEST! EDUCATED! LAITY! EVER!!!

Tom Leith said...

Caswall's poetic translations are works of art in themselves -- if we simply must have an English translation sung (to the traditional melodies) they can't be beat. I think the original original was "close to Jesus to the last". That fits the melody better too.

Here's a web page that has literal and poetic translations, including (of course) Caswall's.