Page 2, 23rd September 1960

23rd September 1960
Page 2
Page 2, 23rd September 1960 — VERNACULAR AT THE CONGRESS

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Organisations: CONGRESS
Locations: Station Town, London, Rome, Durham


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SIR,-At eight o'clock in the evening of Wednesday, August 3, the 37th International Eucharistic Congress was solemnly inaugurated in the presence of the Papal Legate from Rome.

It was only natural, of course, that the service should begin with a hymn of welcome to the participants from far and wide in the language of their hosts. Nor was it surprising that this should be followed by a congregational hymn in the same language. But when Lauds followed it was with a slight start that we heard not the familiar Christe, audi 110S but Erhiire Christus, not Ora pro nohis but Bitte bei Gott fur uns.

This was assuredly a litany of the world or the greater part of it. We invoked the saints in Greek, I.atin, Freneh, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian. and several other languages (but not, if I remember rightly, in the Pope's native tongue). The responses were in German only. An epoch, surely, in vernacularism.

The following evening at the same time in the same place there was a congregational Mass a Deutsche Betsingmesse. This was not unexpected by me. At Lourdes, in the centenary year, some Germans had given me my first experience of a dialogue Mass. But they had spoken it, I am almost sure, in the universal Latin.

Tonight it was different. The Introit was taken from the 80th Psalm. But no Contrite struck the air. Instead. we heard Frohlocket nun und jubelt laut.

The Kyrie was Greek to all of us. The collect was familiar to all who go to Benediction: Deus. qui sub sacramrnIQ ... There was nothing unusual to us in a lector reading the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular. The Credo, for reasons of brevity, maybe, was the Apostles maybe you do not know it as well in the Latin as you do the Nicene. It did not matter. What you had to say if you wanted to join in was: lch glaube an Gott den allmdchtigen Vater...

This was followed by the supplications of the Congress a kind of litany. Before it was ended we had become word-perfect in the congregational response not Te rogamus audi nos but Wir bitten Dich, erhare UM. And so on.

A. J. Frain 25 East View, Station Town, Wingate, Co. Durham.

We think that most supporters of some vernacular in liturgical ceremonies would strongly contend that in all international congress pilgrimage centres, and the like the Latin language should be maintained. EDITOR, "C.H."

Language--Living and Dead'

SIR. The anti-Latinists all, or nearly all, suggest that rites in the vernacular would be better understood. I doubt it. For instance, Mr. Drane in his recent letter, in the vernacular, has a reference to "the principle of comprehensiveness"; and, a line or two below that. to "that principle of comprehension"; and he suggests that the principle may be extended. To me all that is unintelligible.

I ask how one "extends" a "principle"? Whether "comprehensiveness" and "comprehension" are the same "principle"? Whether these two or is it one? are, or is, also to be "extended"? And much more.

That random specimen of vernacular may really be as clear as the sun at noonday. And anyone may reply that "intelligible" depends on "intelligence". But that is something very different from what the anti-Latin people originally propose.

Worse things can happen to an idea, than to be expressed in a language not understood by all who hear it.

G. Cudworth 165 Holland Park Avenue, W.11.

"Succiplat Dominus Sacrificium de manibus tuis ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui. ad utilitatem quoque nustram, toitusque Ecclesiae suet(' sruictae", is as clear as the sun at noonday to anyone who has a General Certificate in Latin and kept up his knowledge. What does it Mean to two-thirds of the faithful without a missal:-Editor, "Cit." sIR,-In worship we have to lift our heart and mind to God, and the use of a language, which to the large majority of us may sound as familiar as the running of a tap but which does not speak to the heart and which has to be learned like a part in a play does not assist concentration on the main purpose but makes it rather more difficult.

This fact remains in whatever part of the world one may be. (Recently the Japanese Bishops have petitioned the Holy Father for greater use of the vernacular.) As Mr. Purgold points out, 90

per cent of us spend by far the ercater part of our lives-and worship-in our own country, and it is therefore to be hoped that in the near future. also with an eye to converts and the rising generation, the vernacular wilt replace Latin wherever possible so as to facilitate full participation in the liturgy.

(Miss) H. Langerak 39 Lakeside Road, London, W.14.

SIR,May I. an ex-AngloCatholic, add one more voice to those who in great sincerity advocate the use of the vernacular? So many were among those whom I have left behind would be encouraged, I feel sure, to return to the true fold were they not met with the obscurity of a language they cannot understand.

So many of the less educated Catholics seem to lazily content themselves with fixing their eyes on the altar and priest or saying their rosary. It is surely difficult enough to captivate one's wandering mind when following in the Missal, but to leave all the work of offering prayers to the Almighty to the priest alone is surely a sad lack of corporate worship.

I am well aware that there is a strong argument for a universal language, but the Bible tells ut that the apostles spoke in divers tongues so that all could understand. May God hasten the day when we may all be allowed to understand.

Constance Gillespie-Taylor 10 Lammas Park Road, Ealing, W.5.

Mass in Germany

QIR, It is a little difficult to understand why your correspondent should have felt uncomfortable owing to the congregation of an Austrian church singing and praying in German throughout the Mass.

To me it is inspiring to bear people praying and praising God in a language which they really understand, instead of remaining mute and inert in a semi-coma, as too often happens when they hear only the muttering of Latin. Would your correspondent have understood Latin if she had been able to hear it, any better than Cierman ?

Admittedly, the Mass in Latin is the same in all countries, but, as the overwhelming majority of any congregation knows. probably no more than a few words of it, what advantage can it have over German, French, Chinese, or whatever language it may be, that has a real meaning to its hearers ?

Surely the practice mentioned is worthy of our appreciation rather than criticism.

F. P. Holmes.

34 Vicarage Road, East Sheen, S.W.14.

SiR.-Would it be possible for the Church to authorise for Sundays and Holy Days one Mass in Latin, and the others in the vernacular?

It would be interesting to learn the views of your readers, both clerical. and laY, on the above suggestion.

Birmingham Layman

SIR.-Is the upshot of the pro paganda in favour of English that the Reformers were right after all? And may it not turn out that they were right in other respects also?

(Miss) Sylvia Salisbury Harrow, Middlesex.

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