Thursday, 14 August 2008

Pope drops Yahweh from the Team

As the rest of life goes to hell in a handcart, the Catholic News Service reports that the Vatican is fighting back:
In the not-too-distant future, songs such as "You Are Near," "I Will Bless Yahweh" and "Rise, O Yahweh" will no longer be part of the Catholic worship experience in the United States.
At the very least, the songs will be edited to remove the word "Yahweh" -- a name of God that the Vatican has ruled must not "be used or pronounced" in songs and prayers during Catholic Masses.
Back in Hebrew class, alongside rabbis-to-be, I imbibed traditions of reverence surrounding the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Scriptures. In an old git moment I have to admit this gave me an abiding and instinctive personal dislike of 80’s songs with jingle tunes and words like “Yahweh, we love you.”

The ban will, however, have to be properly policed:
video

18 comments:

Huw said...

Funny thing is that it was the Jerusalem Bible (RC, through and through) that taught me to say Yahweh in scripture.

I'm still not clear on the why, though. The insipid "praise songs" should all be consigned to the dustbin of history but it seems rather silly to ban the Name from worship altogether.

Steve said...

As we say here in blighty, "only in America...."

James said...

Deckchairs. Titanic.

For heaven's sake, Your Holiness (Pope rhetorical, not a promotion Alan - sorry), what a mess !

Checking the link, it seems that this is important enough to insist on, but not important enough to interfere with the economics of hymn book production.

Yet I can't discover why this decision was made - is it "sensitivity to observant Jews" or some other reason? If the former it would be better to use it as a vehicle for education as to Jewish Tradition.

And the kicker. What happens to the "Yahweh"s used in the Psalms in RC Bibles since about 1966 (Jerusalem Translation). Presumably they qualify as documents "used in a liturgical setting". Since "Yahweh" has to be expunged from hymnbooks, not just pronounced differently - the Psalms must be the same, surely?

Perhaps there are some important matters they could fit in as well.

Final Vatican-o-Sceptical thought: any chance of them pandering to Anglican sensitivities when it comes to using "null" and "void" around Bishops?

FranIAm said...

I am an American Catholic reader of your blog - which I am getting so much out of, thank you.

As for this - Nero fiddles, Rome burns and well...

Like commenter Huw, I too learned my Yahweh's in my Jerusalem bible.

Are there not more important things to be working on???

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Straining at gnat whilst swallowing various (feel exclusivist the the rest of us) camels? I wonder why this one at this time. I have to say I haven't heard many songs in the UK that do actually use the name Yahweh — not for a while anyway. I see what you mean about the Jerusalem Bible, too. Someone told me years ago that in their (RC) Church, the instruction was to read “The Lord” whenever Yahweh occurred in the Jerusalem Bible; indeed I think some lectionaries which print out texts do this — a great example (for us Hebraists) of the disciplines of Q'tibh and Qere. Sure you're right, FranIAm, there are probably hotter potatoes need dealing with in the Christian community...

Kathy said...

Just want to say I'm delighted by this pronouncement. In fact I jumped up and down and punched the air when I read this post! (Oh dear?)

My Hebrew teacher managed to get the holiness of the tetragrammaton deep enough inside me that I really shudder everytime....I can't even type it...... is used in worship. I am an Anglican and I worship in a Roman Catholic community. The community has taught me bucket loads about sanctity and sacrament so I find this messing with the divine name particularly jolting. Can't wait until it is gone! And it doesn't feel like straining a gnat to me at all, but another move towards understanding the incomprehensible holiness of God- good stuff.

Thanks for all the blogging.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Brings me back to where I started, Kathy. For me personally it's the Hebrew wot swings it...

Actually we don't get many YHWH songs over here in the UK. But in 1980 I remember finding the following words in a Charismatic song book
"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
followed by a Copyright notice (1978, I think)!

Wonders never cease...

Anonymous said...

Do it not strike anyone odd that the pslamist said at Psalms 83:18 "that people may know that you whose name is YHWH or Yahweh or Jehovah that you are the Most High..Additional Jesus prayed his last pray at John 17:6 "i have made your name known"...Why would the Pope do exactly opposite of what Jesus came to do and not allow Gods personal name to be known??? It leaves a thinking person really puzzeled.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Thanks for the John reference — of course I knew it, but, incredibly, I've never preached a sermon about the way this verse relates to the OT concepts. We often talk about revelaton in the ways gnostics did — having secret knowledge — when it's got a far deeper personal connotation in its Hebrew context. I used to think of names as being rather like PIN's in OT cutures. I'd want to cut the Pope a bit of slack, though; like about the Scripture the one about bishops being husbands of one wife... I'm sure he's not intending to frustrate jesus' purpose, but it's a fun thought...

Anonymous said...

I have an additional question. The removal of THE NAME (YHWH,YAHWEH,JEHOVAH) from the hyms would that not also include halleluJAH, the Jah being a shorted form of THE NAME? And as we all know Hallelujah means praise Jah (yhwh,Yahweh,Jehovah).

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I see what you mean. Rabbinic old grinches like me just have to accept that YHWH will re-enter through the back door, e.g. (old choirboy, so I remember these things) whenever we say or sing Psalm 68 in the 1662 Prayer Book...

Anonymous said...

YOU GOT IT!! It's a real corner the Pope has seem to paint himself in. So when these things present themselves it would be wiser to follow the lead of Jesus (John17:6) just go ahead and make it KNOWN. Jesus did say follow him and his example. (regardless to how others may feel) of course without total disrespect but with resolute conviction we should stand for truth. Even many bibical names have the shorted form of THE Name in it etc; Eli-JAH, and many bibical names has directed reference to THE NAME such as Jesus = YHWH's salvation or salvation of YHWH. In my humble opinion its seems to be an unneccessary postion he has put himself in.

StinkyKitty said...

Well, this changes everything. Think of ALL the hymns that have "Hallelujah" in it.

Think of one of the most holiest songs Catholics have, the Hallelujah Chorus ...

They all have to be stricken.

Hallelujah, Halleluyah, or Alleluia, is a transliteration of the Hebrew word הַלְלוּיָהּ (Standard Halləluya, Tiberian Halləlûyāh) meaning "[Let us] praise (הַלְּלוּ) Yah (יָהּ)." It is found mainly in the book of Psalms and has a similar pronunciation in many, but not all, languages. The word is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayers, and in Christian praise. It has been accepted into the English language, but its Latin form Alleluia is used by many English-speaking Christians in preference to Hallelujah.

[edit] In the Bible

The term is used 24 times in the Hebrew Bible (mainly in the book of Psalms, e.g. 111-117, 145-150, where it starts and concludes a number of Psalms) and four times in Greek transliteration in the Christian Book of Revelation.

The word "hallelujah" mentioned in Psalms is the Hebrew word for requesting a congregation to join in praise. The best translation of hallelujah is "Praise Yah, you people", usually worded in English versions as "Praise ye the LORD" or "Praise the LORD".[1]

In the Hebrew Bible "hallelujah" is actually a two-word phrase, not one word. The first part, hallelu, is the second person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hallal.[2] However, "hallelujah" means more than simply "praise YHWH", as the word hallel in Hebrew means a joyous praise, to boast in God, or to act madly or foolishly.[3]

The second part, Yah, is a shortened form of the name of God YHWH, sometimes rendered in English as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah". In Psalm 150:6 the Hebrew reads kol han'shamah t'hallel yah;[4] the final word "yah" is translated as "the LORD", or "YHWH". It appears in the Hebrew Bible as הללו~יה and הללו יה. In Psalm 148:1 the Hebrew says "הללו יה hallelu yah". It then says "hallelu eth-YHWH" as if using "yah" and "YHWH" interchangeably. The word "yah" appears by itself as a divine name about 49 times in the Hebrew Bible (including hallelu yah), such as in Psalm 68:4-5 "who rides upon the heavens by his name Yah" and Exodus 15:2 "Yah is my strength and song". It also often appears at the end of Israelite theophoric names such as Isaiah "yeshayah(u), Yahweh is salvation" and Jeremiah "yirmeyah(u), Yahweh is exalted".

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I've just noticed an interesting observation in Thomas Merton's diary [October 5 1957, after seeing some birds which weren't in the birdwatchers' book, which he therefore could not name, as Adam named the animals]:
"No name and no word to identify the beauty of those birds is the gift of God to me in letting me see them. (And that name — God — is no name! It is like a letter. X or Y. Yahweh is a better name — it finally means "Nameless One.")

PinBender said...

One must not overlook the first commandment in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. In the hebrew it is clear that Yahweh is introducing himself and pointing out that we should have NO GODs AT ALL. God, lord, etc is the functional equivelent of demon or baal according to most any mediocre or better bible dictionary.

Incidently, the Name Yahweh is used nearly 7,000 times in the hebrew. It is generally translated LORD in the KJV and most other translations. Look up LORD in a concordance.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

The first commandment is pivital, Im sure, and Exodus 6:3 has been taken another significant key to understanding the content and nature of "revelation" in the OT. The very full and rich traditions about the tetragrammaton (reflected among Christians in KJV and its successors) are, I'm sure, inspired by a desire to follow the first commandment.

nick said...

To All Who Love God's Name:

The new directive from the Vatican to stop using the Divine name YHWH (Yahweh) in songs and prayers has no authorization from Scripture.

The truth is, no one knows the exact pronunciation of even the Hebrew name "Jesus" which was most likely "Yeshua." This doesn't keep us from expressing the name of God's Son does it?

It goes without saying we must have deep reverence for God but where in Scripture are we authorized to pluck out God's name? We can't point to the traditions of the Jews because Jesus said they made the word of God "invalid" because of their man-made traditions. (Matthew 15:1-6)

Jesus, on the other hand, came to make God's name known. (John 17:26) He knew the third commandment tells us not to use God's name "disrespectfully," but not to stop using it.

Beyond that, there are many Bible examples in the Bible of God's servants of old, like Abraham and David, using and saying God's name frequently in song and prayer. Apparantly the angels felt it was fine to praise God using his name. Hallelujah actually means "praise Jah," Jah being an abbreviated form of Jehovah. (Revelation 19:1)

The LXX had God's name, YHWH, all over it before it was eventually removed. This can easily be seen by comparing LXX early manuscripts with later ones.

The big question is. Where were scribes given permission to do this? They weren't but did anyway. The Vatican should reexamine their decision to hide this most wonderful name that reigns supreme.

Sincerely,

Nick Batchelor
nickhawaii@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

doing this just proves that pope Benedict, stand as the false prophet spoken of Revelation 20:10 because you are the chosen leader of that church, chosen by people not by YAHWEH. A man name Yisrayl told us you were going to do this,he must be the witness chosen

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