California Catholic Daily - Not to be used in Catholic worship

California Catholic Daily - Not to be used in Catholic worship: "Not to be used in Catholic worship

Holy See lays down law on use of ‘Yaweh’ and ‘Jehovah’

The Holy See has ruled that the tetragrammaton, the Old Testament’s name for God and rendered “Yahweh” or “Jehovah,” may not be used in Catholic worship.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued the ruling earlier this summer, and Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, informed the U.S. bishops of it last month.

Though the ruling does not affect in any way the official liturgy of the Mass, it will require the editing of some general intercessions used in the Mass and the celebration of other sacraments. Also affected will be some popular songs used in the Church in the United States, such as “I Will Bless Yahweh,” “Rise, O Yahweh,” and “You Are Near,” which opens with “Yahweh, I know you are near.”

“You Are Near” is among the more popular songs used in Catholic worship in the U.S., said John Limb of Oregon Catholic Press, according a Catholic News Service article in the Sept. 8 Catholic Voice, the newspaper of the Oakland diocese. The article said the Oregon Catholic Press web site lists about 12 songs that feature the tetragrammaton.

Oregon Catholic Press has already printed its throwaway songbooks for 2009, so the changes will not be apparent until 2010 at the earliest. Another major publisher, GIA Publications in Chicago, has long had a policy against using the tetragrammaton. For instance, in GIA songbooks, the song “Thanks Be to Yahweh” appears as “Thanks Be to God.”

The tetragrammaton is so called because the holy name of God in the Old Testament appears only as the four Hebrew consonant equivalents of YHWH. “As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: ‘Adonai,’ which means ‘Lord,’” said the Holy See’s letter. Greek translations of the Bible use the word Kyrios, translated into Latin as Dominus and in English as Lord.

“Since the text of the Septuagint constituted the Bible of the first generation of Greek speaking Christians, in which language all the books of the New Testament were also written, these Christians, too, from the beginning never pronounced the divine tetragrammaton,” the letter continued.

The New Testament’s calling the “risen Christ” Lord corresponds exactly to the proclamation of his divinity, said the Holy See. 'The title in fact becomes interchangeable between the God of Israel and the Messiah of the Christian faith, even though it is not in fact one of the titles used for the Messiah of Israel.'

The Holy See concluded, 'avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds. 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.'"

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