Lately, I’ve been exploring the liturgy that was used in the Catholic Church in the early 60s, before the changes that came in the wake of Vatican II. I was struck by the antiphons for the psalms and canticles of Lauds today (from Divinum Officium), which is the 4th Sunday of Advent. They stirred up my spirit as I anticipated the celebration of Christmas.
Blow ye the trumpet * in Zion, for the day of the Lord is nigh at hand: behold, He cometh to save us! Alleluia, Alleluia.
Behold, the desire * of all nations shall come; and the house of the Lord shall be filled with glory. Alleluia.
The crooked * shall be made straight, and the rough places plain; O Lord, come, and make no tarrying. Alleluia.
The Lord cometh! * Go ye out to meet Him, and say: How great is His dominion, and of His kingdom there shall be no end! He is the mighty God, the Ruler, the Prince of Peace. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Thine Almighty Word, * O Lord, shall leap down out of thy royal throne. Alleluia.
Behold, all things are fulfilled * which were spoken by the Angel concerning the Virgin Mary.
Now here are the antiphons for the new Morning Prayer (from iBreviary).
Sound the trumpet in Zion; the day of the Lord is near; he comes to save us, alleluia.
The Lord is here; go out to meet him, saying: Great his birth, eternal his kingdom: Strong God, Ruler of all, Prince of Peace, alleluia.
Your all-powerful Word, O Lord, will come to earth from his throne of glory, alleluia.
All that God promised to the virgin through the message of the angel has been accomplished.
First of all, you will see that they are fewer antiphons. That is because the liturgy was shortened to make it easier. I won’t get into whether that was good or bad. I want to point out how there is so much life in the old version, but the new is bland in in comparison.
Why would the liturgists and/or translators suck the life out of these beautiful texts? I can only guess, but I often hear those who want to radically reform the Church complain about the “triumphalism” of traditionalists. I had to look that word up to see why it might be a problem, and this is what Wikipedia says:
Triumphalism is the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. Triumphalism is not an articulated doctrine but rather a term that is used to characterize certain attitudes or belief systems by parties such as political commentators and historians.
I guess I am guilty of triumphalism because I believe that the Christian gospel is superior and should triumph over all other beliefs. That is because it comes from God, the author of all Truth, and it is the way we are saved from destruction and brought into everlasting happiness. Why shouldn’t it be proclaimed strongly and proudly?