Subtle alterations of traditional Catholic prayers

Have a question. During CCD in my youth, I was taught to say traditional Catholic prayers a certain way. I was away from the church for some time due to a protestant marriage and returned to the church over 7 years ago.

It may have been present the entire time I have been back, but I am just noticing it now and although I’m sure small and inconsequential to most, it bugs me a little. I’m talking about the minor alterations in some prayers, such as the ‘amongst’ in Hail Mary, now said as ‘among’ by many. There are other changes as well, this being one example. To me the new way just sounds too generic or more like a protestant version. (Not knocking Protestantism, it’s a Catholic prayer that’s all)

Was this to make it more ‘user friendly’ for modern converts? Was this a conscious/announced change at some point that I missed?

I have to admit, I like the old versions better, they have a certain beauty that just seems to sound better to me. But I find myself in the minority in continuing to say them the former way (when reciting out loud in a group).

You are right in my opinion. the older prayers are better the way they were and they should not have “fixed” something that was not “broken”. Being in the minority is not a bad thing if you are in the :right" minority!

Actually it was to bring the prayers into modern English. You will notice that the “thee, thy and thou” are often changed to “you and your”.

I too like the ‘older’ versions but then again I am almost 50 years old and this was the way I was taught them. I taught them this way to my chidlren and to my CCD students as well.

We could even say that the Latin versions are even better! I never learned our basic prayers in Latin though. We have all heard I am pretty certain the Hail Mary sung in Latin - it is a beautiful song but so are the English sung versions I have heard.

We are never told to not say the prayers the way we learned them and honestly I am sure I am not the only one in the congregation saying or singing them in old English!

Now unless someone comes up to you and tells you you are saying the prayer wrong then don’t worry about it and continue to pray the way you learned them :D.

Brenda V.

Some people make subtle alterations to prayers

Like
Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee

some say instead to thee, they say you.

I still recite as I am taught!

I personally practice at a tridentine mass. So I can avoid such subtle changes.

I prefer more archaic forms of English, not because of a nostalgia for older language, but because in many respects this type of language better suits whom you are addressing: God.

I use modern English when praying, too, but this is usually when I’m praying silently and am dialoguing with God, laying on him the things going on in my life.

I think you really need a balance. If you stick exclusively to Latin prayers and archaic forms of praying to God and never pray to God in the language you use in every day life, God may no longer be seen as a personal, loving God who is approachable in prayer.

On the other hand, if you ignore the more traditional forms of prayer, you may end up conceiving God as a best-friend, a homey, but certaintly not the Lord of the Universe who is to be approached as King.

Some words in English can be pronounced and spelled differently and yet have the same meanings. “Toward” and “towards” is but one example.

Thank you rciadan; I appreciate the response…

And it’s times like these when I can’t help but wonder who ‘they’ actually are, and whether they actually sat around a table somewhere in time, discussed the matter and actually decided these things! :slight_smile:

From the responses I’ve received so far, it’s good to know I’m not the only one who still says and prefers the prayers as they were… Thank you so much :slight_smile:

Bless you,
M

I was confirmed last Easter, at age 62. As a Lutheran, I learned the Nicene Creed with the words, “He descended into Hell”. Some Catholic versions retain the word “hell”, but others re-write it as, “He descended to the dead”. I wonder how widespread this re-wrire is?:confused:

I think most of us pray informally when alone with God. In private/personal prayer, speaking naturally and from the heart just makes more sense. This is way God knows us to be inside and it would be artificial to pray any other way.

I prefer more archaic forms of English, not because of a nostalgia for older language, but because in many respects this type of language better suits whom you are addressing: God.

… if you ignore the more traditional forms of prayer, you may end up conceiving God as a best-friend, a homey, but certaintly not the Lord of the Universe who is to be approached as King.

Good point. too much informality can lead one to lose a certain reverence for whom we are addressing.

When praying a formal/traditional prayer, it just seems to me that the beauty of the old language makes it more special in action and in feeling.

I guess I was just wondering if I’d ‘missed the meeting’ so to speak when this had been declared or decided… or if it was just something that started slowly happening along the way that is becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Thank you Brenda for your response. Now if someone did do that, I’d probably tell them they were saying it wrong and continue praying the way I always have!

I’m pretty sure we still say hell in our Church… and our parish is (unfortunately) not very traditional at all.

So it’s not too widespread yet (Thank God) :slight_smile:

It almost seems as if being ‘politically correct’ is seeping into our prayers too if things are going that far… That’s one change I would’ve noticed!

I should like to add that one change I tend to prefer: Holy Ghost to Holy Spirit. I’ve heard some traditionalists react against this, saying that they do not pray to some spirit, and that Ghost better captures who the third person of the Trinity is, but I don’t really see much into this argument. Pope Pius XII in Divino afflante Spiritu in translation reads that the sacred writers were inspired by the Divine Spirit, and not the Divine Ghost.

How did Holy Ghost become the standard name for the third person of the Trinity in the Latin Rite? It seems an odd name to me, given that the Latin version of the Nicene-Constantinople Creed recited at the TLM reads “Spiritu Santo” and seems more naturally to be translated at “Holy Spirit.” Of course, I suppose you could object to the translation of santo as holy as well.

Originally Posted by Margaret33:

I guess I was just wondering if I’d ‘missed the meeting’ so to speak when this had been declared or decided… or if it was just something that started slowly happening along the way that is becoming the norm rather than the exception.

I think that it’s happened slowly over the decades and reflects that change of the English language. Many older rules of English are being dropped. For example, in more archaic forms of English the subjunctive tense is far more frequently used than it is today. Distinctions that would lend to a wider use of formal addresses also have eliminated aspects of more archaic language. Language has been democratized.

I was taught as a child ‘Holy Spirit’ and seem to hear more ‘Holy Ghost’ now, so I guess I assumed that the latter was the newer teaching instead of the reverse… I do prefer Holy Spirit myself, it seems to embody the concept more readily for me, rather than conjuring an image which only serves as a distraction :slight_smile:

In the Nicene Creed our clergy have changed the line"for us Men and for our salvation" to “for us and for our salvation”.In case the girls feel excluded.
I can remember in the 1960’s a now deceased priest suggesting something some of us disagreed with.I think it was during the Holy Week Services when English was being used for the first time.He thought it sounded better to say "whence"rather than
"where…from"
In my opinion,he was forgetting that not all of the congregation are educated and some are children.I think they would understand better the use of “where…from”.

In German “Spirit’” is “Gheist”. So we took our English translation through that language.

One irony in the development is that many who object to using “you” instead of “thy/thou” fail to recognize that the latter is not the more formal address (as they usually suppose) but the familliar.

I think much of the response to this original question may be considered close to placing form over substance.

Considering “thee” and “thou” as more reverential or more formal or respectful belies the original usage of those words… when they were used, THOSE words were the “familiar” usages - like Dad instead of Father. They were not the formal uses; the more formal usage in English WOULD have been “you” and “yours” rather than “thee” and “thine.” So were making a construct in our mind here, and, although there is nothing wrong with using that kind of language, we should take care not to make the language a sort of idol. If one feels more “respectful” or reverent or whatever using archaic language, then fine - pray that way. But also remember that archaic - they way they used to do it - is not a guarantee of reverence or holiness. That only is found in the heart of the one praying.

It’s basically the singular and it may work as in French with tu/toi and vous. Such measures of respect as using the plural to address a single person of importance have never been deemed necessary with God who “outranks” all the mortals put together. Notice that we use “lords” with God, but we don’t use “sirs” or “misters” or any “highnesses” which are distinctly human addresses. “Lord” is what God is to us all, whereas any human address or title would be infinitely diminutive. Same with pluralis maiestatis - note that God would never refer to Himself as “We” like mortal kings do, either.

As for alterations, I think they are unnecessary meddling. I use the Old Polish that I learnt those hymns and prayers and I don’t care if most people seem to be going by the new versions. As for English, “amongst” is not the most archaic word I use and it’s not like there aren’t many people who use it casually.

In “conversational” prayer, I use my typical language. There are certain words or phrases I avoid, but that’s because I’m talking to God, not to a beer buddy. I could speak Latin or some archaic vernacular, but I see no reason (okay, once, some time ago, I did use Latin but it didn’t feel wrong at the time). Similarly, I don’t talk to God in foreign languages and even prefer to translate a prayer I have written down in a foreign language I know… It doesn’t really matter, since God understands all of it, He knows which languages I speak and which I don’t and it would be faster not to translate (and I’d be using a more canonical wording too), but I somehow prefer to translate anyway. Just if it were archaic or poetic or otherwise requiring much thought to translate, I would leave it as it were.

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