Monday, August 18, 2008

Goodbye Yahweh, Hello Lord!

Newly updated liturgical norms will effectively give the songs “You Are Near,” “I Will Bless Yahweh,” and “Rise, O Yahweh” the boot! Well at any rate they have to at least omit the use of the word “Yahweh” from the songs… You see, the use of the word “Yahweh” is not allowed in the Mass. It’s all part of a new directive from the Vatican.

Bishop Serratelli, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship just announced the change saying the new directive would have "some impact on the use of particular pieces of liturgical music in our country as well as in the composition of variable texts such as the general intercessions for the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments." So basically, “Yahweh” better not be used in songs or in the intercessions.

But what’s the big deal with “Yahweh” anyway?

The technical name for this word is the sacred Tetragrammaton. It’s the four consonants of the Hebrew name for God, the name which God himself gave to Moses at the burning bush. Jews, when reading it aloud from scripture, would instead say the word “Adonai” – meaning Lord – out of respect for God’s name. Christians, until recently, and Jews take the second commandment (Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain) quite seriously. How many Christians do you know who take God’s name in vain?

What’s more, in the Church’s 2,000-year history, “Yahweh” has never been used in a liturgical sense. From the first century, the Church has used “Kyrios” and “Dominus” in replace of “Yahweh” – and you guessed it, both of those words are either Greek or Latin equivalents of Lord.

Cardinal Arinze, the Prefect for the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, said “Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred Tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.”

Okay so it took some help from the Vatican, but American Catholics are finally starting to get in touch with their 2,000-year old roots.

And I’m sure Jews will appreciate it, too!

Read the whole story here.

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