Gender specific pronouns

I was visiting a parish in Michigan for Mass and the pastor(with congregation in tow) changed the Nicene Creed at the part where we recite…“For us MEN and for our salvation” to “For US and our salvation” Every gender specific pronoun was changed or removed…

God our creator…
God our saviour…
God our giver of graces…

This is how the Holy Trinity was refered to.

As a woman, I find it insulting that feminist should think we are all as thin skinned as they are. I have no issues with male pronouns…

:rolleyes:I still say…


I agree with you. My point was that cantors usually don’t have any choice in the matter, as I often hear/read people blaming the cantor for song choices and, what it appeared in the post, being blamed for using inappropriate materials when they have no choice. I used to work at a parish where we actually did use the correct text for the psalms, but the pastor wanted us to use a different book which employed text that was different, so the music director will sometimes have his/her hands tied as well. Then sometimes, the parish will not provide the funds to pay for new books which would have the correct wording, so we’re stuck with the old books. In addition, there are many books which will usually have the correct text, but every once in a while the text will be wrong and not match what is in the lectionary and the parish may not have the funds or may not want to provide the funds to get new music to replace. There are a lot of factors that goes into this.

I don’t dispute that there may be people out there who purposely change the text even though I have never experienced it and I agree that it should stop. The other problem is that there are too many publications which use incorrect text and are often promoted. Some sort of standard in all Catholic music publishing should be used, but I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

As a cantor I cringe when a song has been ‘neutered.’ Some of the psalms I sing have been, as well, but I usually have the original versions and proclaim from those so I don’t have to worry about using the adulterated editions. Fortunately, almost all of the psalms I sing on Sundays are faithful chanted compositions from the lectionary.

I’d venture that it could be either depending on the parish and the situation. Some music books change things around. And some cantors do.

More than the gender neutralization of traditional hymns, what really bothers me is when any music books changes the words of the responsorial Psalm. There are certain translations of Scripture that are approved for use in the liturgy. If you want to present a new translation for use, then go through the channels and do it. Don’t just reword Scripture so it fits with the melody.

Okeydokey…one more time: “Gender” is an artifact of indo-european languages. That is, it is a linguistic term. Because of a poor understanding of language it has recently come to be synonymous with “sex.” Sex, however, is a biological matter. In French, “le livre” means the “book” and has masculine gender. A book is NOT male and does not have sex or any sexual attributes. Interestingly, the Russian word for book is “kniga” and is NOT female but has feminine gender - again without sex or sexual attributes.

Where people have gotten confused is that with biological creature (like human beings) which have sexual attributes gender typically follows the sex of the creature. Thus a male takes masculine gender and a female takes feminine gender.

Of course, English widely uses the neuter for non-sexual things. Many languages, like French and Russian above, do not widely use the neuter.

A word with masculine gender will take a pronoun of the same gender. An interesting translation issue is how to translate the pronoun used in, say French, - “il” for “book” - "he or “it.” A literal translation would be “he.” A better translation, IMHO, since “book” is neuter in English is “it.” Many people scream for literal translations around these here parts, but just wait for someone to translate the pronoun for “Hagia” (wisdom of God) - and they scream murder because it comes out “she.”

Now, Jesus certainly was a male human being with sexual attributes. “He” is totally appropriate. God the Father is a bit more iffy. “Father” certainly implies sexual attributes
of maleness. That would call for “he.” But, the attributes are non-sexual since God the Father is non-biological, i.e., the attributes are metaphorical. Do we then use the neuter? Historic usage is clear - use the masculine, but that, too, is hardly dispositive. God the Holy Spirit is even more unclear since the Holy Spirit is pure spirit - images of a dove notwithstanding. Then what of the God-head? Does Jesus’ nature overrule the others? What of the father metaphor? And, heck a dove could be either - and the Gospel does say the HS is like a dove! There really is nothing magic about the pronouns - and no special meaning should be attached if you ask me.

Lastly, if people are made to feel excluded by the use of pronouns should we care? If so, which way do we care? Are we too rigid to demand the historic usage even to the point of offending? Are those who are offended too thin skinned? Not being a female, I don’t want to wander into that thicket. By the same token, I see the arguments - both ways.

I will end with saying, it’s easiest to read the black and do the red - and don’t get too wound up about such things. But, again, I’m not the one offended.

Who does this, I wonder? Liturgical committees?

You know what I also think might be going on for some, is that many people still own and use older editions of psalm books which do not have the latest text approval. The changes may not be deliberate and there may be musicians out there who weren’t aware of the changes and did not get updated editions.

Edit: That still doesn’t answer why some versions are gender neutral.

You may notice that the Church, formerly referred to in English as “it”, particularly in the Eucharistic Prayers of the Ordinary Form, is now referred to as “she”, since the new translations were promulgated in Advent 2011. This is a visible result of the reforms of Liturgiam Authenticam started in 2001, and I suggest reading it, because it has a lot to say about grammatical gender. This question of the pervasion of inclusive language is something which the document seeks to answer.

The GIRM (in English anyway) is kind of vague about what collections/translations/arrangements of the psalms are acceptable for use. As a result I think parishes use that as a reason to pull out older psalm arrangements.

You’re probably right on that. But you as a musician know that it’s much harder to bring the revised text into existing music; in fact, in most cases it simply doesn’t work. And then there are the copyright and royalty issues.

But even the Latin Masses (OF) may be affected, since I understand the official version of the Bible is now the Nova Vulgata. However, I doubt if gender specificity will be an issue in the Latin.

Yes, that is true. Text setting to current music is a pain. There are new editions of psalm books, though, with the revised psalms. I noticed a problem when the Michel Guimont Lectionary Psalms came out with the revised psalms and some people were still using the former edition. The words AND the music for some of them were different.

I find this annoying because it assumes that we women are all militant feminists and would be offended by calling God “he”. Jesus was a man. He called God his Father. If it is good enough for HIM it is good enough for this woman (me).

In Oak Park IL and elsewhere in the Chicago archdiocese and the Midwest, it’s common that the priest at the altar performs this “neutering” – a good term I will have to remember. And the people respond in kind. Viva Cristo Re, yes, but also down with masculine references whenever possible. Other changes are also routine, as in asking God at the end of the offertory to accept this sacrifice “from our hands,” which not only expunges the masculine but changes the meaning. Viva indeed.

The very reason people want to sub God for “Him” is going against thousands of years of revelation and tradition for the sake of some superficial inclusivity (and I’ve generally found the people who hound for things like inclusiveness and the like eventually just leave the Church because of its “backwardness”).

What about the word “brethren?” I hear that at almost every mass. Is that gender exclusive?

A few months ago, I attended a Mass in another town.

The Gospel for that day was the calling of Peter, James and John.

The Deacon who read the Gospel took it upon himself to change “fishers of men’ to 'catchers of people” :eek:

“Brethren” = brothers, I don’t hear it so much. I do hear “sisters and brothers,” haven’t checked to see if it’s for “brethren.” Probably is.

Another, not a gender-specific issue, is to change “disciples” to “friends,” apparently lest we elevate Jesus too much.

While “brethren” strictly defined means “brothers” it is no more gender-exclusive than “mankind”. It is a word previously known to everyone to be inclusive, it is just modern know-nothings who have forced an unfavorable interpretation of these words. But the fact of language is that it changes, and the old inclusive terms have lost the battle, and newer, seemingly more-inclusive terms are winning out.

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