SINGAPORE – For Catholics who are so used to the words said and heard at Mass, the change should be “a refreshing welcome” because changes and renewal shows that the Mass and the liturgy “is not a dead thing of the past but it is dynamic and alive”, assured Father Ignatius Yeo.
The liturgy professor at St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary explained that most parts of the Mass are English translations of texts composed in Latin. These prayers were “crafted to be artistically beautiful... to reflect the beauty and glory of God”, he said.
Just as church buildings are crafted with beautiful stained glass and other works of artistic beauty to “captivate the eye and so draw the hearts of men to God... so too the words of worship were crafted with beauty in poetry of vocabulary, rhythm, structure and sentiment, so that the language we use will proclaim the beauty of the Lord,” Father Ignatius said.
He noted that one does not have to understand the Latin language to appreciate its beauty in English, just as one does not have to understand French to appreciate the elegance of Victor Hugo’s French novels, Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which have been well translated into English, and appreciated by the English-speaking world.
Father Ignatius explained that the new English translation strives to make an improvement possible only through a reassessment of the original text, and after a generation of usage. The translators “now have a better sense of how to achieve the desired results” of helping worshippers grasp the meaning of the original text, he said.
Father Ignatius hopes that “with time, as people hear and say the new words, with new hearts and new spirit, they will appreciate even more the value and beauty of faith so ancient yet so new”.