shall pt 2

After posting about shall yesterday, I noticed it several times during the church service this morning. Looking at everything again on the train home, it became apparent that the earlier sources (two 19th century hymns and a congregational response based on a bible verse) used shall exclusively and the later sources (a 20th century translation (or two) of the bible – I’m not sure which one(s) we use) used will, regardless of I/we v you/she/he/it/they and simple v strong intention.

The hymns were:

And those who put their trust in thee / Nor death nor hell shall harm


I shall not fear the battle / If thou art by my side
O Jesus thou hast promised … That where thou art in glory / There shall thy servant be

The congregational response is:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

This is based on Matthew 8:8, where a Roman centurion says:

Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed. (KJV)

Bible Hub has 25 versions; 16 use will and 9 (apparently the more traditionally based ones) use shall.

The psalm was Ps 31, which includes (v 5):

you will redeem me O Lord God of truth.

and the gospel reading was John 14:1-14, which includes eight wills:

[Jesus:] I will come again and will take you to myself … If you know me, you will know my Father also … [Phillip:] Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied … [Jesus:] the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works that these … I will do whatever you ask in my name … If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

The KJV uses I will and ye/he shall, among different renderings:

I will come again, and receive you unto myself … If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also … Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us … He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do … whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do … If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

The same pattern emerges in the communion service. The version of the Nicene Creed in The Book of Common Prayer 1662 includes ‘Whose kingdom shall have no end’. The versions in An Australian Prayer Book 1978 and A Prayer Book for Australia 1995 include ‘and his kingdom will have no end’. The modern services also have an acclamation ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again’. Conversely, they keep shall in the ten commandments (‘you shall have no other gods but me … You shall not make for yourself a graven image’ (the BCP has ‘Thou shalt (not)’ throughout)) and the two great commandments (‘You shall love the Lord your God … You shall love your your neighbour (which is not in the BCP)).


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