Seldom has there been a more mistaken aphorism than the saying that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains. Creating the beautiful is not pain but delight
says Mary Lynch.
CATHOLICS attending Mass have a claim to a faithful, accurate version of the text, one that they can understand, not necessarily on first hearing, but after explanation and reflection.
This should be in the central, Standard form of their language. It should not be distorted by a tendency to the precious, the mannered or the quaint, nor by a style peculiar to any region or social class.
Observance of this golden mean would have spared us the grammatical errors and ugly colloquialisms of the English Jerusalem Bible, which is written in debased English, with palpable errors on most pages: e.g. to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in my flesh, I was, indeed. Language should be emotionally appropriate at every stage. One would have thought that obvious statement unnecessary but for the Jerusalem Bible, which, aiming at popular appeal, represents Our Saviour, when gasping, "Thirst!" as his life ebbed away, remarking casually, "I am thirsty". The themes of scripture call for simple dignity.
English has rich resources, because it is a combination of two languages, Anglo-Saxon and Norman-French. This accounts for the many pairs of words which are nearly
synonymous but not quite, and so permit sensitive expression of fine shades of meaning.
Neither of these streams should be arbitrarily suppressed in favour of the other. The art of good composition depends not on a theory that one or other is more genuinely English, but on the free creative intuition of rightness in a given context.
When people complimented Cardinal Newman on his prose style, he replied that he had never sought to write in any particular style, but only to express his meaning as clearly as possible. Self-effacing service to the truth formed his writing.
Much discussed at present is the need of a scripture text suitable for reading aloud. Scripture has been read aloud in churches throughout the Christian era, and long before that in synagogues. Yet never before have worshippers thought of making a translation explicitly for oral use.
For this fact there are several reasons. First, written language is derived from spoken language and not vice versa; second much of the new Testament reports spoken words, such as the discourses of Our Lord and his Apostles, and their dialogues with their opponents; third, there are advantages in using one authoritative text on all occasions.