Monday, August 29, 2016

Poor word choice in Opening Prayer in today's Mass

Below is the Opening Prayer/Collect at Mass today.

One would imagine, on the day that is in it, the translator would have avoided the word 'ahead' in the Opening Prayer.

Every schoolboy/girl knows about the 'beheading' of John the Baptist.

O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice, we, too, may fight hard for the confession of what you teach. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

1 comment:

Fergus said...

The idea in the prayer is John Baptist is the precursor of Christ and the original text (in Latin) uses exactly that term. However, the well known (to clergy and religious at least) Benedictus canticle (Gospel according to Luke, chapter 1, verses 68-79), much of which is addressed by John the Baptist's father to his son, uses the expression "to go ahead of the Lord", another way of putting the original idea of the Lord's precursor. I imagine the translator(s) thought employing an expression already familiar to those who sing the Benedictus canticle each morning at Lauds would be preferable to employing the technical term "precursor" in today's prayer. Perhaps this is an example of "literal translation" not being favoured for a change.

For those unfamiliar with the Benedictus, the relevant section addressed to John the Baptist says:
As for you little child, you shall be called a prophet of God the most high, you shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his way before him, to make known to his people their salvation through forgiveness of all their sins, the loving kindness of the heart of our God who visits us like the dawn from on high. He will give light to those in darkness...
[This translation is by The Grail]