French liturgies available on Web

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the French-language liturgies would be published in January; in fact, no publishing date has yet been set.

Seven years after getting the green light from General Synod to develop indigenous French-language liturgies, the committee which created the translations has toasted its efforts: the liturgies should soon reach a wider audience after they are printed next year by the Anglican Book Centre.

Until recently, francophone Anglicans had to make do with a U.S. translation of the Book of Common Prayer, le Livre de la PriËre Commune. The Episcopal Church in the United States has long had a French prayer book for its French-speaking members in Europe and francophone countries like Haiti. The language, however, is continental, European French – not Canadian or QuÈbecois French.

An earlier attempt at a Canadian translation did not make the grade. That translation, circulated to seven dioceses in 1997, was rejected on the grounds that it was too literal and did not take into account the needs of already existing francophone communities in the dioceses of Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec.

A diverse group was then drawn from francophone and bilingual clergy and laity to come up with a true, Canadian translation. A liturgical consultant also worked with the committee, dubbed CLEF (ComitÈ liturgique Èpiscopal francophone).

The committee finished the liturgies more than a year ago, but their release in print will make them more widely available to Anglicans in dioceses with francophone representation.

Approved for use by the 2001 General Synod, the liturgies have so far only been available on the Web, at the diocese of Montreal Web site, or via they will remain until March 31, 2003.

CLEF translated four liturgies from the Book of Alternative Services: services for the Eucharist, baptism, wedding and funeral. The liturgies chosen are those which might have a mix of francophone and anglophone people worshipping together; the choices were recommended by the committee members, said Eileen Scully, the national church’s consultant for worship and ministry

“It was up to them,” said Ms. Scully.

Anglican Book Centre will likely publish each of the four liturgies separately, with both the French and English together, on mirror pages.

Though no statistics exist for how many francophone Anglicans are in Canada (the diocese of Montreal, for instance, estimates it has 600-700 francophone Anglicans in its parishes), they are concentrated in just a few dioceses: Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Fredericton and Moosonee.

The language of the new liturgies is not only in the vernacular, it is more inclusive and it intentionally “captures the spirit of the BAS language, its poetry” said Ms. Scully. She cites the Gloria as an example:

Livre de la PriËre Commune

Gloire ‡ Dieu au plus haut des cieux/
Et paix sur la terre aux hommes qu’il aime

New translation

Gloire ‡ Dieu au plus haut des cieux,/
Et paix sur la terre aux personnes de bonne volonté

(The exclusive “hommes qu’il aime” with references to men (hommes) who He loves (qu’il aime) has been replaced by the inclusive “personnes de bonne volontè” – people of good will.)

CLEF has now been disbanded but could be reconstituted for future translation projects, said Ms. Scully, citing supplemental eucharistic prayers and the Night Prayer as possible examples.

“Faith, worship and ministry will (speak with) members of CLEF and listen to what they see their needs as being and what they’d like to tackle next,” said Ms. Scully. “It is for them to tell us what their needs are and it is up to us to mandate that work.”

The French-language liturgies have also been approved for use by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, with whom the Anglican Church of Canada has full communion. Additionally, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, archbishop of Montreal and bishop ordinary to the Canadian Forces, has expressed interest in making the liturgies available to military chaplains.


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