Friday, January 1, 2016

Merciless Translations

Our vernacular translations of the liturgy often eliminate the mercy verb and change the term altogether to "kindness" or "compassion", etc., but seldom mercy!

For example, today's first reading Numbers 6:22-27
The text says

24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee.
25 The Lord shew his face to thee, and have mercy on thee.
26 The Lord turn his countenance to thee, and give thee peace.

24 benedicat tibi Dominus et custodiat te
25 ostendat Dominus faciem suam tibi et misereatur tui
26 convertat Dominus vultum suum ad te et det tibi pacem

The text for the Mass (in both Spanish and English) eliminates the word mercy.

The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!

The same problem is ubiquitous throughout the Psalm translations in all of the liturgical texts, and otherwise, e.g. in the Benedictus translation viscera misericordiae becomes "the tender compassion"!

Just a thought on our liturgical use of the word "mercy" and all of it's forms, as we begin the Jubilee Year of Mercy 2016 Anno Domini! (N.B. Pope Francis' motto itself includes the term, granted impossible to translate into English with one term: it would have to say "mercying").

Happy New Year of Our Lord MMXVI! and Circumcision/Naming of Jesus Day, Octave Day of Christmas, Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God.

P.S. Our Most Reverend Bishops are well aware of the problem for years and do by all means want to improve the translations which are surely to come in the not so distant future. Deo gratias.
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