Inquiry Regarding a Capital Idea

I noticed in the lovely Introit hymn Kathy Pluth provided for the new memorial of Pope St. John Paul, one line would be completely indecipherable…
And made His gifts in him increase
… and the whole rather confusing, were it not for her utilization of the venerable custom of capitalizing personal pronouns referring to the Godhead, members of the Trinity, the Church as Bride of Christ, etc.

Quick poll, do you use this method to render a bit of extra reverence to the Lord?
If so, in conversational writing, (bloggage, memos to your pastor,)  and/or more formal matters, (essays for publication, poetry, hymns.)
I had a third grade child once tell me how happy he was that I had gone through all copies of a psalm we were singing from The Dread Gather and “corrected” the psalm verses, because “it makes God important.”

I’m curious, does anyone know when and why this stopped being the general custom of the Church, at least in English?
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on the Vatican website observes the tradition. Paul VI, or the Vatican on his behalf, does in Humanae Vitae, but not in at least one motu proprio, St John Paul not at all, I think, (please correct me if that’s wrong.)

I was going to check a few hymnals, and then I remembered that GIA tried to excise all male pronouns anyway….

5 Replies to “Inquiry Regarding a Capital Idea”

  1. I still capitalize as you describe, especially in my latest project on my 'blog (a year long "lectio divina" based on the Propers). Since I am using the 1989 Gregorian Missal, I have noticed the English translation used by the good monks at Solesmes does not make use of that practice.

    "Dignum et justum est."

  2. Actually, Scelata, I think that the choice of capitalization in this instance is perfect. Allow me to explicate it for you. Let's first start with your quote from another posting:

    'The Lord chose him to be high priest.
    And made His gifts in him increase.
    He opened up His treasure store,
    And made him rich forevermore.'

    From the context, it is obvious that two persons are referred to here: our Lord God, and His Blessed Holiness, John Paul the Great. Both are deserving of the capitalization which is the proper veneration to be given to God, or to the truly godly. But, when the two are in apposition, as they are in this poem, deference must be given to the Source of all Holiness: Our Lord God.

    So as to make this more present, and not to lose the scansion, I will reduce His Blessed Holiness' name to John, and remove the capital, to make this all the more present:

    'The Lord chose john to be high priest.
    And made His gifts in john increase.
    He opened up His treasure store,
    And made john rich forevermore.'

    And how are YOU doing, Scelata? It's been long since I've heard from you…

  3. That was kind of my point, that without the traditional use of capitals for pronouns referring to God, we'd have to intuit rather than read that it is GOD'S gifts in JOHN PAUL.

    Do Eastern liturgical books retain this commendable practice?

    Any way, I am well, but "anxious about many things."

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  4. The problem with that is that the original Greek manuscripts also didn't use spaces between words or punctuation. Somehow I don't think many of the don't-capitalize-pronouns are going to advocate that.

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