Friday, 22 August 2008

A Peter and Paul Song

Here is another one that I haven't posted yet. I wrote it for the Festival of St Peter and Paul with which the Pauline Year began. The tune (click here for the midi file) is a modified version of "Faith of our Fathers" - the ENGLISH not the American version. Also, it has been modified so that the music for the first couplet is repeated (note that the midi file begins with an introduction).
1. Eternal God we give thanks to you
today for Peter and for Paul.
In grace you chose them for yourself
and consecrated them for all.
You made Paul blind so he could see;
and gave to Peter heaven's keys.
Their faithful service brought the faith to us,
so may their prayers bring us to you. (Repeat)

2. You called the fisherman from mending nets
and taught him how to fish for men.
You turned the persecutor's heart around
to preach your name in every land.
You made Peter to be "the Rock",
and Paul the preacher of the Cross.
Their faithful witness won the martyrs' crown,
so may their prayers bring us to you (Repeat)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

A hymn in honour of St Peter (for 21st Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year A)

I had forgotten that I had written this, and only found it today as I was preparing for leading singing at Mass this Sunday. It is very suitable for the Gospel for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) and for any festival of St Peter. Tune: Any tune will do, try "Ode to Joy".

1. When the Lord asked his disciples,
“Who do people say I am?”,
they replied, “Some say Elijah,
some a prophet—just a man.”
“But,” he told them, “more important
is the answer you would give.
I now ask you: what do you say?
Speak the faith by which you’d live.”

2. When Saint Peter said to Jesus,
“You’re the Christ, the Son of God!”
he confessed the truth from heaven,
not revealed by flesh and blood.
Then the Lord Christ said to Peter,
“On this Rock I’ll build my church.
God will bind and loose in heaven
what you bind and loose on earth.”

3. For our priests and for our bishops,
and for Benedict, our pope,
let us pray to God the Father,
firm in faith and strong in hope.
Let us take hold of the promise
made by Jesus Christ our Lord:
“Never shall the gates of Hades
overcome the Church of God.”

Friday, 15 August 2008

Revising songs that use the "name" Yahweh?

There have been some who have asked whether it would be possible to give a list of songs that use the pseudo-name Yahweh for God, and to suggest possible alternatives.

For instance, the popular (with a certain set) Frank Anderson song "Strong and Constant" has the line "I will be Yahweh who walks with you". You could sing this as "I the Lord will always walk with you" (which also actually makes better sense).

But my question is: Name one song that uses "Yahweh" which might actually be worth singing or might be worth perpetuating with alterations?

I think this is a good opportunity just to completely scrap the whole sorry lot. There is a saying that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but if it is completely stuffed, one could say, don't bother stuffing around with it.

[Actually, I can name ONE song that uses "Jehovah" and is worth singing, but most hymnals have already altered it: "Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah" is now universally sung as "Guide me O thou Great Redeemer". It is worth singing, but then it comes from a different time and a different school of hymnody than the modern "Yahweh is my buddy" stuff.]

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Letter to the Bishops Conferences on the Name of God

I have not yet had a rant about a subject that has infuriated me for years: the use of the "name" of God "Yahweh" in so many popular Catholic liturgical songs. Now, thanks to the Congregation for Divine Worship, it looks as if I don't have to, as they have done a good job for me.

Of course, the story is all over the blogosphere by now (most citing this CNS news story that has interesting statements from the big publishers OCP and GIA), but you may be interested to read the source document in this regard (when dealing with the Vatican, always, ALWAYS find the actual document in question rather than rely on news reports).

And here it is folks, for you to cut and paste and refer to:
Congregatio de Cultu Divino
et Disciplina Sacramentorum
Prot. N.213/08/L

Letter To The Bishops Conferences On "The Name Of God"

Your Eminence\Your Excellency:

By directive of the Holy Father, in accord with the congregation for the Doctrine Of The Faith, this Congregation For Divine Worship And The Discipline Of The Sacraments deems it convenient to communicate to the Bishops Conferences the following as regards the translation and the pronunciation, in a liturgical setting, of the Divine Name signified in the sacred tetragrammaton, along with a number of directives.

I. Expose

1. The words of Sacred Scripture contained in the Old and New Testament express truth which transcends the limits imposed by time and place. They are the Word of God expressed in human words, and, by means of these words of life, the Holy Spirit introduces the faithful to knowledge of the truth whole and entire and thus the Word of Christ comes to dwell in the faithful in all its richness (cf. John 14:26; 16:12-15). In order that the word of God, written in the sacred texts, may be conserved and transmitted in an integral and faithful manner, every modern translation of the books of the Bible aims at being a faithful and accurate transposition of the original texts. Such a literary effort requires that the original text be translated with the maximum integrity and accuracy, without omissions or additions with regard to the contents, and without introducing explanatory glosses or paraphrases which do not belong to the sacred text itself.

As regards the sacred name of God himself, translators must use the greatest faithfulness and respect. In particular, as the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam (n. 41) states:

"In accordance with immemorial tradition, which indeed is already evident in the above-mentioned "Septuagint" version, the name of almighty God, expressed by the Hebrew tetragrammaton and the rendered in Latin by the word Dominus, is to be rendered into any given vernacular by a word equivalent in meaning. [Iuxta traditionem ab immemorabili receptam, immo in (…) versione "LXX virorum" iam perspicuam, nomen Dei omnipotentis, sacro tetragrammate hebaraice expressum, latine vocabulo "Dominus" in quavis lingua populari vocabulo quodam eiusdem significationis reddatur."]"

Notwithstanding such a clear norm, in recent years, the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel's proper name, known as the holy or divine tetragrammaton, written with four consonants of the Hebrew alphabet in the form hwhy, YHWH. The practice of vocalising it is met with both in the reading of biblical texts taken from the lectionary as well as in prayers and hymns, and it occurs in diverse written and spoken forms, such as, for example, "Yahweh", "Yahwè", "Jahwè", "Jave", "Yehova", etc. It is therefore our intention, with the present letter, to set out some essential facts which lie behind the above-mentioned norm and to establish some directives to be observed in this matter.

2. The venerable biblical tradition of Sacred Scripture, known as the Old Testament, displays a series of divine appellations, among which is the sacred name of God revealed in a tetragrammaton YHWH (hwhy). As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: "Adonai", which means "Lord".

The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the so called Septuagint, dating back to the last centuries prior to the Christian era, had regularly rendered the Hebrew tetragrammaton with the Greek word Kyrios, which means "Lord". Since the text of the Septuagint constituted the Bible of the first generation of Greek speaking Christians, in which language all the books of the New Testament were also written, these Christians, too, from the beginning never pronounced the divine tetragrammaton. Something similar happened likewise for Latin speaking Christians, whose literature began to emerge from the second century as first the Vetus Latina and later, the Vulgate of St Jerome, attest: in these translations, too, the tetragrammaton was regularly replaced by the Latin word "Dominus", corresponding both to the Hebrew Adonai and to the Greek Kyrios. The same holds for the recent Neo-Vulgate, which the Church employs in the liturgy.

This fact had important implications for New Testament Christology itself. When in fact, St Paul, with regard to the crucifixion, writes that "God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9), he does not mean any other name than "Lord", for he continues by saying, "and every tonne confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2:11; cf, Isaiah 42:8: "I am the Lord; that is my name"). The attribution of this title to the Risen Christ corresponds exactly to the proclamation of his divinity. The title in fact becomes interchangeable between the God of Israel and the Messiah of the Christian faith, even though it is not in fact one of the titles used for the Messiah of Israel. In the strictly theological sense, this title is found, for example, already in the first canonical Gospel (cf. Matthew 1:20: "the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream"), and one sees it as a rule in the Old Testament citations in the New Testament (cf. Acts 2:20: "the sun shall be turned to darkness ... before the day of the Lord comes (Joel 3:4); 1 Peter 1:25: "the word of the Lord abides for ever" (Isaiah 40:8)). However, in the properly Christological sense, apart from the text cited in Philippians 2:9-11, one can remember Romans 10:9 ("if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved"), 1 Corinthians 2:8 ("they would not have crucified the Lord of glory"), 1 Corinthians 12:3 ("no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit") and the frequent formula concerning the Christian who lives "in the Lord" (Romans 16:2; 1 Corinthians 7:22; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; etc).

3. Avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds. Apart from a motive of a purely philogical order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the Church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context, nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.

II. Directives.

In the light of what has been expounded, the following directives are to be observed:

1. In liturgical celebrations, in songs in prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

2. For the translation of the biblical text in modern languages, destined for the liturgical usage of the church, what is already prescribed in n. 41 of the Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: "Lord", "Signore", "Seigneur", "Herr", "Senor", etc.

3. In translating, in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated "Lord" and the form "God is" is to be used for the tetragrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, June 29, 2008.

+ Francis Card. Arinze

+ Albert Malcolm Ranjith
Archbishop Secretary