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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Case for retiring "Christ has died..."

On any given day during the week (Sundays included), parishes in my little corner of the South Texas hinterland will either chant or recite option A for the Memorial Acclamation.  Option A is the often over-used "Christ has died.  Christ has risen.  Christ will come again."  Most composers use this option in their Mass settings.

However, in about one year and 23 days, all of this will change with the coming of the revised translation of the Roman Missal.  "Christ has died..." will no longer be an option, as it has been stricken from the Ordinary of the Mass. 

Why the change, some may ask?  We've been singing/reciting this for nearly four decades.  The fact is that "Christ has died..." is an anamoly in the Sacramentary as it was an innovation inserted by the initial group of translators.  Furthermore, "Christ has died..." does not appear in the official Latin version of the Roman Missal, nor does it show up in any other language group such as Spanish, Italian, French and German.  All though, oddly enough, well-meaning composers have taken it upon themselves to translate "Christ has died" into Spanish and use this for their Mass settings.  One from WLP comes to mind.  Sadly, this translation of the Memorial Acclamation is ilicit becasue no such option exists in the Spanish language.  It becomes a case of our inserting and imbedding something into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on our own authority, something that both Sacrosanctum Concilium and Redemptionis Sacramentum are strongly against.

Aside from the fact that "Christ has died.." appears nowhere in the Latin original nor in any other language group, this particular acclamation uses the third person while the other three address Christ in the second person.  "Christ has died" is a proclamation, rather than an acclamation.  A proclamation is an official announcement, a declaration, addressed in the third person.   An acclamation, on the other hand, is a word of praise and approval addressed directly to an individual.  "Christ has died..." then, becomes a statement of faith about something.  In contrast, by using any of the other three Memorial Acclamations, we are acclaiming something directly to Jesus. 

Perhaps it is time, then, that we re-think using "Christ has died..." in the Mass.   

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