…here’s one prayer in the “new mass” that fails dismally:
O God, who in each pilgrim Church throughout the world
make visible the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,
that your faithful may be so united to their shepherd
and gathered together in the Holy Spirit
through the Gospel and the Eucharist,
as to worthily embody the universality of your people
and become a sign and instrument in the world of the presence of Christ.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
And ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, as Mr Handel would have sung.
A friend of mine aptly described this prayer as “Gaudium et Spes with ‘O God’ put in front of it”. It is clearly not an “ancient” collect, but an invention of the post-Council consilium that gave us the whole Novus Ordo. It has none of the brevity and poetry of the classical collects, and seems designed more as a short course in ecclesiology than a prayer of petition to God. There is no way that any amount of accurate translation could make a beautiful prayer out this text.
I’m not dissing the new translation in this, btw. It’s not the translation’s fault that this is such an unwieldy prayer. Fortunately, one would not expect it to be used very often, as it comes from one of the “Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions” in the back of the missal, and is designated “For the Particular Church”. I cannot find the current translation of the prayer in my current missal or the original.
Speaking of Mr Handel, I wonder if the prayer might not be improved perhaps if it were to be given a choral setting akin to some part of “The Messiah”? Any suggestions?