Fr. Jay Toborowsky, the Young Fogey himself, has a very interesting piece on an instruction sent out by Cardinal Arinze of the Congregation for Divine Worship prohibiting the literal Hebrew pronunciation of the name of God to be used in songs or prayers.
What is Rome talking about? The “Tetragrammaton”. Confused? We’re talking about the four Hebrew letters yod, heh, vav, and heh (יהוה) transliterated in English as “YHWH”, and found in some translations of the Old Testament as well as the occasional hymn as “Yahweh”. “Tetragrammaton” is a Greek word meaning “four letters”, as in the 4 letters used to name God.
In books of Scripture written in Hebrew, the name is certainly written, but never pronounced phonetically. Instead, the word “Adonai” (“God”) is substituted, or even the words “Ha Shem” (literally, “The Name”) are used. For Jews, even to say the proper name of God would be a violation of the third commandment (or second commandment to Christians), taking God’s name in vain. The only time it was used in Judaism was once per year by the High Priest during Yom Kippur, when he alone had the privilege of pronouncing God’s authentic name while offering prayers of atonement on behalf of the people.
So what does this mean? First of all, directive one says that the word “YHWH” is not to be used in liturgical celebrations … The second directive says that in future translations of Scripture into vernacular languages, the word YHWH be translated as “God”. It’s hard to say what this will affect in the future, but looking to the past, I believe it is the New Jerusalem Bible that used “Yahweh” in translations of the Psalms. In short, words like “God” or “Lord” should be used, rather than God’s proper name.
The best part of this this instruction? A piece of Schutte gets the boot. Dan Schutte’s “Sing A New Song” which has the line “Yahweh’s people dance for joy,” should no longer be used in the liturgy. Buh-bye.
Now if we can only get the CDW to ban singing in the first person as if we were Yah… Um… God.