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.

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‘O Lord, increase our faith’

Last night at choir rehearsal we practiced ‘O Lord, increase our faith’ by Henry Loosemore (d 1670). In it, we prayed for ‘wisdom, charity, chastity and patience’. The printed edition used by one of my first choirs omitted ‘chastity’ and instead repeated ‘charity’, but the choirmaster told us to sing ‘chastity’ anyway.

Praying for something generally means that you aren’t or don’t have it now. You may well give thanks for what you are or have now, but you don’t need to pray for it. Chastity seems to be an ‘all or nothing’ sin; either you are chaste (‘refraining from sexual intercourse that is regarded as contrary to morality or religion’) or you are not. It is possible to be a little bit unwise, uncharitable or impatient, but it’s not possible to be a little bit unchaste.

We pray/sing ‘endue us with wisdom …’. It is very easy to turn ‘endue us’ into ‘endure us’. And it may well be very appropriate to pray ‘O Lord, endure us with patience’.

clean, cleanse

English has many pairs of words with basically the same meaning, but with important differences in meaning and/or usage. The front page of our church’s weekly bulletin today had an illustration of ‘Jesus cleansing the temple’ (John 2:13-22). ‘Cleansing’ basically means ‘cleaning thoroughly’, but ‘Jesus cleaning the temple’ would bring to mind a completely different image. Even though no English translation of that passage actually uses the word ‘cleanse’, the episode is generally referred to in this way; Wikipedia’s article is titled ‘Cleansing of the Temple’. (Compare the fifth labour of Hercules, which is more often called ‘cleaning the Augean stables’ and less often called ‘cleansing …’)

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