English Is a Perfectly Fine Catholic Liturgical Language

The question was obliquely posed in a recent post by Deborah Gyapong.  English had been denounced to her as a "Protestant language."  While I wish Dr. Cranmer would have translated all of the Roman Missal's collects, those that he did simply translate, rather than compose anew, elaborate upon, or borrow from some other source, are absolutely perfect, faithful, and sonorous renditions of the originals.  Take today's Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Easter, for an example.

The Latin:

Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt; et, te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum nostrum, &c.

Cranmer's English:

O LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Who would disdain the latter or claim that the composition is not fit for our humble worship of the Triune God?

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organized the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He is also the CEO of Three Fish Consulting, LLC, an Information Technology consultancy based in Orlando, FL. He can be reached via email at ccampbell at threefish dot co.

10 thoughts on “English Is a Perfectly Fine Catholic Liturgical Language”

  1. Neither is fit for our humble worship of God; that is the whole point of us striving to worship in our human tongues. The more we strive, the more we elevate our worship and the surer we are of never attaining it whether it be in Latin, English or Chinese. It is that constant realization of our inability to express something that is, in the end, impossible to ever perfectly express that causes us to wait on His coming. When we begin to realize that, we are merely at the border of eternity….

  2. As a Roman Catholic, I hesitate to say anything that will ruin any sort of happy state that keeps English Catholics in communion with Rome or the view of the larger Roman Catholic Church. That's why I'm hesitant to say anything about Cranmer. But let's not avoid a large issue. The man was disobedient and really untrustworthy. Did he work to bring the Church together, or to divide it from itself? If it is the Pope who is accused of doing so, then he denies the primacy of Peter. Indeed, it is what Cranmer has done: "…as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ's enemy, and Antichrist with all his false doctrine." Let's not treat Cranmer as if he were one of the gospel writers or even as one of the Church Fathers. Or even as the English Cyril or Methodius. The language is a detail. Muslims revere Jesus and Mary, and John the Baptist, but that is a detail. It does not matter if the detail is beautiful, so long as the source is in error.

      1. I haven't been reading The Anglo-Catholic long enough, no. I only started reading once I heard the news of Anglicanorum Coetibus. I understand some of the history regarding the English Reformation, but nothing overly in-depth. The bottom line, from my point of view, is that any work towards genuine Christian unity is an act done by dutiful Christians.

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