Interesting, James, reading the Latin and English translation
of the Gregorian chant, Pie Jesu, in which the chanters beseech
the Lord for mercy when He comes as Judge .
Before reading this, I had heard a singer present
Pie Jesu at the Washington D. C. Memorial Day
presentation at the Capitol, where members of all
armed services, past and present, were assembled.
It occurred to me how brief and passing are the things
of this world. This language, Latin, in which Pie Jesu
is written, is no longer a living language. For it to be
a living language, the people of Rome would have to
learn all over again to speak it. True, a few priests
speak it even now, but it is essentially a dead language,
so every time we sing something in Latin, or say a Latin
phrase, we are speaking a language which is not only
foreign but no longer used. Isn't this strange?
And yet we continue to use these Latin words and phrases
as if they embodied something sacred and special. Most
of those who heard Pie Jesu sung at the Capitol last night
probably did not know what it meant. They just knew that
it was strange and beautiful.
Soon the culture which produced the English language may
also be dead. In the next world, we will undoubtedly speak
a new language which everyone understands, and we will
know it without learning it, as if it always were the real language
of our hearts. The cultures which produced the French language,
the German, the Greek, all will be gone, and in their place will
be the Kingdom of our God with its own tongue.