sacrilege

 

 

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Gloria in excelsis Deo
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

 

Glory to God in the highest.
and peace to his people on earth.

 

 

— “Gloria,” Beethoven, Mass in C Major; translation, Carnegie Hall program notes; performance by Orchestra of St. Luke’s, March 5, 2010

 

 

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NO — “to his people on earth” is deliberately wrong.

How can one — why would one — mistranslate unambiguous words from the Latin mass? It is

 

Glory to God in the highest.
and peace on earth to MEN OF GOOD WILL.

 

Men of good will is not a “generic” phrase. It means something. To men (yes, men) of good will.

Words have a literal meaning and a connotation. Here it is the literal meaning that is in question. In my mind, these beautiful words always have evoked the thought of a community of well-meaning people, of benevolent spirits. But the anonymous translator here (read, verbal axe-wielder) has substituted the anodyne “his people on earth,” e.g., earthlings. Presumably for the sake of political correctness. This strips the phrase of its meaning.

I am offended, deeply so, that someone would change the text of a beautiful mass by Beethoven, the text of the Latin mass which has existed for over four centuries.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   March 6, 2020

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