I began this five-part series a few days ago to convey several “highlights” concerning the new English translation of the Roman Missal, third edition. The second highlight I will offer concerns the beauty of repetition.
We encounter repetitive phraseology at several points in the ordinary of the new translation. For example, in the Roman Canon, we now pray:
“This pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim”
And, in the Confiteor, we pray:
“Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”
And, in the Gloria, we sing:
“We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory”
The most obvious and basic reason for changing to these new texts is because they reflect accurately what the Latin original actually says. But there are better reasons even than that. If we look just at the Gloria text, in a general sense, each of these phrases conveys the same idea of worshipping God. But, if we look closely, these five descriptions of worship actually do hold subtle distinctions. To adore does not mean exactly the same thing as to glorify or to bless, or else these words would not all exist. Together, each of these near-synonyms combine to express the full extent to which it is our Christian duty to glorify to God.
Liturgical prayer, moreover, is enhanced by poetic repetition. This kind of repetition is not dry or banal or purposeless. Instead, it is beautiful, artistic, and poetic. Liturgy is supposed to be beautiful, and God certainly deserves the gift of our artistry & poetry. Just as the sacred liturgy has inspired a multiplicity and abundance of beauty in the various arts (music, painting, architecture, etc.), so it has inspired a wealth and diversity in our phraseology of prayer.
As the Psalmist declares: “All Your creatures shall thank You, O Lord, and Your friends shall repeat their blessing” (Psalm 145:10).