Thursday, February 9, 2017

Why "Thy"?

I have been alerted to something which I had seen via Twitter but not stopped upon: Archbishop Justin Welby's promotion and propulsion for a prayer campaign to make a difference to this sorry world of ours, 25th May to 4th June 2017.

The website for "Thy Kingdom Come" is here.

The invitation is to #PledgeToPray

Follow on Twitter:




But, why, oh, why, is this mod, social media savvy campaign using "Thy"??? It is 2017 ...

Great video with ++Justin ... worth a watch!





32 comments:

Andrei said...

This is the sort of initiative we should expect from an Archbishop - more please

"But, why, oh, why, is this mod, social media savvy campaign using "Thy"??? It is 2017 ..."

Because it is grammatically correct :) and it uses language that is both sonorous and non mundane - i.e. it doesn't sound like an advertising slogan for feminine hygiene products but is in fact a prayer in itself, referencing of course the Lord's prayer

Anonymous said...

Possibly also because media research has shown than many younger people associate the old fashioned language with the holy, and with reverence. Have you never noticed how often the churches with all the loud music etc use the old version of the Lord's prayer?

It is generally older folk who tend to think the modern language is more likely to resonate ... but that just shows they don't know the young!

Jean said...

Yes it is neat to see it running again and with a broader appeal to churches outside the UK after the response it garnered last year. As for Thy I am not sure but funnily enough I always use thy automatically when I say the Lord's Prayer, even though I know the other version!

Andrei said...

"As for Thy I am not sure but funnily enough I always use thy automatically when I say the Lord's Prayer, even though I know the other version!"

There is nothing strange about that at all Jean - the translators of the King James Bible were skilled in the use of language and the English version of Lord's Prayer they produced is unsurpassed

Other versions sound clunky and awkward in comparison

The Jacobean English of the King James Bible has a rhythm that trips off the tongue so the Lord's Prayer from the King James' bible flows

Remember the Church is eternal while the 21st century is ephemeral and attempts to make the Church relevant to the 21st Century are doomed to failure and will only succeed in making the profound seem mundane

And never forget what is contemporary today will be passé tomorrow

It is also worth noting that if you try and relate to the young on their terms you will always at least be two steps behind where they are at now and come across as a "try hard", a phoney

A skilled poet filled with the Holy Spirit may someday produce an updated version of the Lord's Prayer in English but I suspect if and when this happens "Thy" will remain because it is grammatically correct and true to the original whereas "Your" is not

liturgy said...

I think Anonymous's comment that the use of "thy" is the result of the Archbishop's publicity department's research appears correct. It gives the campaign a feel of individuals escaping from our everyday problems and issues. That appears to fit with the tenor of the video - the dynamic is not: come and join Jesus in his care and service of others and the world; the images are of a Christian alone, at Bible study, in clothes not worn by ordinary people (even when playing with the dog), in an unworldly robe, and praying with other Christians in such robes. This is: look how following Jesus, and his special group, has helped me. Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the campaign - far from it - that aspect is essential, and we need to and should promote it. This is simply looking at what is the undergirding perspective of this particular video.

As for Andrei's contention that the Lord's Prayer in the King James Bible is unsurpassed - I suspect he is confused. I don't know any church that prays that version. The version being referenced, I'm presuming, is the one in BCP and the one used by English-speaking RCs.

Furthermore, the suggestion that "thy" is the only form "grammatically correct" in Jacobean English is also confused. Good luck to anyone who addressed King James as "thy"! The "grammatically correct" way to address him, of course, would have been "you" and "your".

Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron said...

A lovely, simple portrait of the ABC at prayer.

At least, he prays - and speaks of a loving compassionate God who hears our prayers - whether we use old English or Hotentot, or simply open out hearts in silence. That's the sort of God we have. I prtay for the ABC.

Brian Kelly said...

"As for Andrei's contention that the Lord's Prayer in the King James Bible is unsurpassed - I suspect he is confused. I don't know any church that prays that version. The version being referenced, I'm presuming, is the one in BCP and the one used by English-speaking RCs."

- But he didn't say that. He didn't refer to church usage, only the KJV translation.

"Furthermore, the suggestion that "thy" is the only form "grammatically correct" in Jacobean English is also confused."

- Once more, he didn't say that - you (thou) added the word 'only' (like Luther! :) ). 'Thou' was still being used widely in the north of England as dialectic usage and continued that way till the 18th century. Shakespeare was still using 'thou', sometimes mixing it with 'you' in the same sentence (e.g. Falstaff to Prince Harry). Tyndale kept thou/you to distinguish the singular and plural usages in the Hebrew and Greek and the KJV editors retained this.


Brian Kelly said...

"Good luck to anyone who addressed King James as "thy"! The "grammatically correct" way to address him, of course, would have been "you" and "your"."

Well, not if thee was a Quaker (OK, they were still in the pipeline in 1603). And happily, our God is not and was not like James.
It's a great shame that English succumbed to the snobbery of the French and supplanted 'thou' with its plural form. The lack of a second person singular pronoun in English today is an impoverishment of the language vis-à-vis the Romance languages and German (and presumably the Slavic languages too, but I don't know them - maybe Andrei can comment).

Peter Carrell said...

Hello One and All,
My simple point is that "thy" is not the language of everyday English speaking people in the 21st century.
I do not give a fig who said what to whom in the 15, 16, 17 18, 19 or 20th centuries.
Why can Christians, translating the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ not free themselves from dead languages and dead usages?
Why can the otherwise with-it ABC, keen on Twitter, not use "your"?
That is the plain language of today.
I am at my wits end ...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Peter; for those who went to school in England and said the Lord's prayer each day at assembly (and state schools did this in the 80s), the words "thy kingdom come" will have meaning. Unless you actually went to Church, the modern version will be foreign or even a bit kitsch.

That's your answer.

Nick

Brian Kelly said...

"Why can Christians, translating the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ not free themselves from dead languages and dead usages?"

Sadly, they have done this too well: the ignorance of Hebrew and Greek among too many clergy is reflected in the low quality of preaching.
Incidentally, my 1973 French NT 'en francais courant' uses 'tu' throughout and my 1967 German NT uses 'du' throughout. The usage is far from dead there; if anything, tu/du use is increasing in a more 'familiar' culture.
Fare thee well for now!

Andrei said...

" Why can Christians, translating the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ not free themselves from dead languages and dead usages?"

Is anyone actually confused by "Thy" ?

Nor is it a dead usage if the ABC uses it. And it is well understood even by monoglot English speakers though the nuance of its meaning may be lost (obviously is)

I think English has been impoverished with the dropping of the singular "you" and I also think in this case the meaning of the phrase is slightly lost in translation with the formal "Your" rather than the more relaxed connotations of carried by "Thy"

As Brian said this distinction exists in other Indo European languages and absolutely of course in the original Greek texts.

And what is modern English anyway? The spoken English of Invercargill is not the English of spoken Appalachia nor the English spoken on the Indian sub continent. Indeed the English spoken on the streets of Glasgow can be virtually unintelligible to the average resident of Epsom

And the English spoken on a construction site is not the same as the English of the Supreme Court - so why not a liturgical English, which you actually have? A marker of which being the retention of the use of singular second person pronouns "Thou", "Thee", "Thy" and "Thine"

Consider this "Thou shalt not Kill" - the use of "Thou" is like a finger pointed directly at thee personally. The commandment is not general it is directed at you the reader personally

Peter Carrell said...

Hi "Thy Guys"!
Excellent points in rejoinder: noting in particular,
- yes, I get it that lots of people with school memories will instantly understand "thy" in the phrase the campaign uses
- yes, there are different forms of English, including liturgical
- agreed, no-one is confused by "thy".
More as a reflective set of questions than as a rebuttal,
- is the campaign aimed at middle aged and older folk?
- is "thy", all good points made above notwithstanding, at least slightly self-defeating about the contemporary life of the Spirit of God in the world, since the language used above conveys a sense of faith looking backwards via the language of a different era?

Andrei said...

'Hi "Thy Guys"!'

Hi Peter - alas that is grammatically incorrect :)

To convey that thought fully perhaps 'Hi you "Thy" Guys!' would unambiguously convey what you intended?

As an aside to Brian in Russian it is ты (tu) singular familiar, вы (vu) plural and Вы (Vu) formal, the formal being capitalized when written

Another interesting aside is that Richard Nixon's family retained the singular and plural forms of "you" and he retained this usage within his family and their circle until at least the day she died


" -is the campaign aimed at middle aged and older folk?"

Perhaps you patronize the young by underestimating their intelligence? Are those that seek going to be alienated by the use of an older form of language?

" ...at least slightly self-defeating about the contemporary life of the Spirit of God in the world, since the language used above conveys a sense of faith looking backwards via the language of a different era?"

Is being contemporary necessarily a good thing? A fad of our times is "gender neutral language". Can you find a good gender neutral version of the Lord's prayer? And do such things alienate more people than they attract?

The thing about language Peter is that we adjust our language to the circumstances we are in and the people we are speaking to - it is very obvious if two distinct languages are involved - if you are conversing in Russian and a non Russian speaker joins the group the language transitions seamlessly to English, this is etiquette but usually unconscious, it just happens without anyone thinking about it

But the same thing would happen with my two hypothetical Glaswegians - their conversation would be fairly unintelligible to thee and me but if we joined their conversation they would moderate their language to accommodate us and we would communicate without much bother

The other thing about vernacular English as spoken today is that it contains many idioms from other languages, French in particular but German Italian and even Russian.

Are you phased by "C'est la vie", curriculum vitae, fiasco or joie de vivre" examples abound

Do you ever use "Kyrie Eleison" in Church? Some Anglicans do, it is the sort of phrase Fr Ron might deploy and no reader here would be confused by it.

So why be troubled by "Thy Kingdom come" - the hipsters of today are happy enough to use " a la carte" so "Thy Kingdom come" shouldn't be too much of a stretch


Andrei said...

And here to reinforce my last comment, courtesy of the Guardian, is a partial list of idioms in modern English usage taken directly from the King James Bible

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I acknowledge the right of Glaswegians etc to speak as they like but here's the thing, I have lived in England (as well as that fine English speaking nation, NZ), I watch English TV programmes, and in 2015 revisited England for an extensive visit:
NOONE used "thy" in everyday English!
(I am not, by the way, trying to be patronising to the young. My point is not whether the young "get" thy or not.I am sure they do. My point is whether "thy" suggests the church lives in the present or the past; and whether church is for funny, quaint speakers of English or everyday folks.)

Andrei said...

"NOONE used "thy" in everyday English!"

And on your travels did anyone in everyday conversation speak like this?

"And in the dimness of that provisionality it becomes apparent that there is simply no corporate appetite or collective belief in the right to amend Canon B30. And since Anglican polity determines that there can be no liturgy which is contrary to the teaching of the church – we pray what we believe – there will be no development of same-sex marriage blessings..."?

The phrase "Thy Kingdom Come" familiar to the English speakers for over four hundred years will speak to far more "everyday folks" than that turgid prose, taken from an earlier post here, which will have virtually everyone's eyes glazing over I suspect

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
You are mixing genress!

Andrei said...

Hi Peter;

I'm not really mixing genres - I am saying that we use language according to context. Literary English is not the same as conversational English and nor is the language of worship in a church the same as the vernacular

Medieval Arabic is the language of the Mosque, Church Slavonic is the language of the Slavic Orthodox Churches and some Catholic Churches in the Balkans (with its own scripts and orthographies) and NT Greek the language of the Greek Orthodox Church. Latin is still in occasional use in Catholicism and so to I think is Church Slavonic. Then there are Coptic and Ethiopic to consider

I am prepared to bet you would be quite happy to say the Lord's Prayer in Maori in Church despite the fact the majority of the congregation might not be conversational the Maori language

A Question: can you converse in Maori and have you ever said the Lord's Prayer in Maori in a liturgical context? Think about it and what that means to you personally

I'm not saying the church should use any particular language, I'm saying that it is perilous to be continually be updating your forms of language and worship to maintain pace with "modern" times - the language of the Church should be holy and not profane and stand out as such in the ears of the hearer.

The distinct advantage of retaining the familiar form "Thy" over the formal form "Your" for the second person pronoun is that it explicitly imparts we are not addressing King James the 1st (see Bosco's comment above) but "Our Father which art in Heaven" in a familiar and informal way - which is the way we were instructed to do it by Our Lord Jesus Christ himself

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
In the context of a public, publicity oriented campaign using social media, I think "thy" is precisely the wrong language because that language should be conversational English.

I have many times said the Lord's Prayer in Maori, in appropriate contexts. I would not lead it at (say) a European funeral service presuming people would know the words. In that context I might even resort to the BCP version of the Lord's Prayer.

I do not get your last paragraph at all. The true, faithful translation of the Lord's Prayer in the language of today's audience, as once Matthew/Luke translated (or offered the circulating translation in Greek of) Jesus' original prayer, in Aramaic, is language which eschews "thy" and uses the everyday English equivalent to Jesus' own everyday Aramaic, that is the language of "your."

Andrei said...

Peter can you read Koine?

The phrase is "ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου"

σου is the genitive case for the singular or familiar second person pronoun

It is distinct from ὑμῶν, the plural, formal

Modern vernacular English may have lost this distinction but liturgical English, in my view looses it at its peril.

In addition you are making a huge assumption that the original was in Aramaic - the common tongue in the world in which Jesus lived was Koine Greek - so much so that the Hebrew Scriptures had been translated into it 200 years previously and there has to have been a compelling reason to do this I suspect. We will never know what Jesus' mother tongue was or what language he used for everyday use but there was a high probability he could at least speak Greek

He conversed with Roman centurions for example and of course with Pontius Pilate, as recorded in the Gospels, and the most likely common tongue for these interactions is Koine Greek, it being as dominant in that region in those days as English is in much of the world today

But when it comes to social media campaigns, any message in those forums has to compete with thousands of others and risks being drowned in the babble - the Liturgical language in my view gives it a flavour that may lead to it being more readily noticed...

Brian Kelly said...

'As an aside to Brian in Russian it is ты (tu) singular familiar, вы (vu) plural and Вы (Vu) formal, the formal being capitalized when written' - thank you, Andrei - I wonder if Russian usage was inspired by the huge influence that French had on the Russian aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries, as French also affected English usage in earlier centuries, causing 'you' to displace 'thou' in class-conscious circles.
In Italian (lei) and Spanish (usted) the 3rd person singular is used for 2nd person formality. I haven't checked this, but I suspect German 'Sie' is really 3rd person pl. in origin (ihr is still used as plural of du, as in talking to a group of friends, and was the common 2nd person plural in the past).
Interesting comment on Nixon's family. The 'thee' usage reflects the fact that the Christmas Bomber of Hanoi was from a good pacifist Quaker family from Whittier CA - a city named after John Greenleaf Whittier, abolitionist and author of 'Dear Lord and Father of Mankind' and 'The Brewing of Soma' (or some similar title) - his disparaging term for 19th century revivalism.

Brian Kelly said...

'Peter can you read Koine?'

- I think we can safely assume this for a chap with a PhD in New Testament from Durham!

'We will never know what Jesus' mother tongue was or what language he used for everyday use but there was a high probability he could at least speak Greek'
- Three verbal sentences by Jesus (Mark 5.41; 7.34; 15.34) are in Aramaic but not in any standard literary form that has come down to us; in the opinion of Michael Wise, the latter two could also be non-standard Hebrew - where 'standard' denotes the literary form that nobody actually speaks. Evidently he knew Hebrew (Luke 4) and had greater literacy than might have been expected for the son of an artisan. The same was said of his disciples. Jesus' encounters with Gentiles were most likely in Greek, which was spoken in Palestine from c. 300 BC. There were Greek-speaking cities like Sepphoris not far from Nazareth.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei/Brian
Flattered as I am by my assumed knowledge of Koine Greek (for which I claim a little ability but not expertise) my point has little to do with knowledge of Koine Greek, or even whether Jesus did or did not use Koine in his teaching and conversation.

My point, refined, is this:

(1) Communicating "the Word made flesh" concerns communicating God's truth in the language of this group of people, with freedom to translate appropriate to varying groups.
(2) The current expression in the English language of today's English speaking people of a phrase such as one concerning a prayer to God that the kingdom belonging to God should come involves expressing the second person singular.
(3) The current required English word is "your", no matter what bewailing that we might have that "your" also refers to the plural of (the plural) you.
(4) Correctly the Lord's Prayer in today's English includes the petition "Your kingdom come."
(5) I remain in askance why a social media campaign referring to the same does not say just that, rather than "Thy Kingdom come."
(6) Though I do get it that the English/CofE are by Down Under standards old fashioned ...

Brian Kelly said...

You are too modest, Dr Carrell!
I don't disagree with you over usage of 'thy' - as well as agreeing with others that 'Thy Kingdom come' immediately signals the Lord's Prayer, even to secular English. But notice this:
You state (correctly again):
"Correctly the Lord's Prayer in today's English includes the petition "Your kingdom come.""
But I wonder if one in a hundred persons uses the subjunctive like that today, i.e. without 'may' - except in the stereotypical 'God save the Queen' or 'Long live the King'.
The subjunctive is disappearing from contemporary English, so that you'll just as likely see. e.g. 'It's important that he readS this' etc - another problem in teaching foreign languages to English-speakers, since the subjunctive is still very much alive in European languages.

Anonymous said...

Peter; you said:

"I have lived in England (as well as that fine English speaking nation, NZ), I watch English TV programmes, and in 2015 revisited England for an extensive visit:
NOONE used "thy" in everyday English!"

But, warra wanna ask thee, is wast tha in Yorkshir' or Lancyshir'?

vide

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdzZXibW3B8

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
ha!
I am most familiar with English as she is spoke in Durham, Cambridge and London.

Andrei said...

I wonder about the Lord's Prayer prayed in Slovenian English yesterday in Florida

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I am torn between replying:
(1) The Slovenian accent got in the way of me clearly hearing whether it was "Your" or "Thy."
Or,
(2) I did not realise that when DT wanted to make America Great Again, he was going to go backwards to its greatness of former days rather than forward into a new era!

(Seriously: I do get it that in a nation which still finds space in the public square for praying the Lord's Prayer, that version likely is going to be the "thy" version.)

Andrei said...

Tomorrows New York Times Headline: "Melania Trump plagiarises the King James Bible" :)

Shirley said...

I am saddened that the heart of the Archbishops message and desire for people to pray, seems developing into a debate around what words could or should be used. Maybe we should stop debating and start praying.

Whit Johnstone said...

"As for Andrei's contention that the Lord's Prayer in the King James Bible is unsurpassed - I suspect he is confused. I don't know any church that prays that version. The version being referenced, I'm presuming, is the one in BCP and the one used by English-speaking RCs."

Actually, in the United States the Reformed churches (Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Continental Reformed, and Restorationists) use the King James Version Lord's Prayer. The 1662 BCP Lord's Prayer is used by Methodists, Episcopalians, and Lutherans. Roman Catholics use a truncated version of the 1662 followed by a modern language Matthean doxology, which is wierd. I'm not sure about the Baptists.