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My Our Father gift to the Vatican

Our Father, who are in the heavens,
may your name be sanctified,
may your kingdom come,
may your will be done, just as in heaven, so also in earth.
Our daily bread give to us today,
and let us off our debts,
just as we also let off our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but free us from evil.

An alert reader of this site has drawn my attention to a very significant slip-up in the new English translation of the Roman Missal: The Lord’s Prayer (the “Our Father”). Since the Vatican ruling, Liturgiam Authenticam, every word, every line has gone under the microscope. Nothing has been spared. Even word-order and structure is conforming, as much as possible, to Latin word-order and structure.

Except for the Lord’s Prayer.

Let me, supportively, help the Vatican out. I have, as yet, been unable to ascertain whether the internationally ecumenically agreed contemporary English version of the Lord’s Prayer, used in many Roman Catholic Churches in New Zealand, will be one of the “local amendments” that the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference is asking permission for from the Vatican (“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,…”). But, IMHO, it does not satisfy Liturgiam Authenticam. But nor does “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, …”!!!

The rumour is that the new Mass translation is only a first step and will soon need to be revised (here is one example of the rumour, but I’ve heard it more than once). “Our Father who art in heaven…” stands out as an original sore thumb in a totally cosmetically-surgerised body (come on Latin-derived neologisms are allowed, encouraged, in this context!). The whole new English Mass text uses “you, your” – except in the Lord’s Prayer, where it becomes “thy”. Then suddenly in the doxology it transmogrifies back to “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever.” Very strange!

So … drumroll please… here is my gift to the Vatican and to English-speaking Roman Catholicism. The Latin Lord’s Prayer translated according to the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam. There’s even still plenty of time to include it in the revised texts. Why should contemporary Roman Catholics continue to use the English translation of the Anglican 1928 Book of Common Prayer?

Pater noster, qui es in caelis,
Our Father, who are in the heavens,
sanctificetur nomen tuum,
may your name be sanctified,
veniat regnum tuum,
may your kingdom come,
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
may your will be done, just as in heaven, so also in earth.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie,
Our daily bread give to us today,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
and let us off our debts,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
just as we also let off our debtors.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
And lead us not into temptation,
sed libera nos a malo.
but free us from evil.

Ps. If there is some argument that there would have been riots had there been a Liturgiam Authenticam-complying Lord’s Prayer introduced to replace the beloved BCP 1928 text is that saying that in changing all the other texts they were not much loved?
PPs. You read it here first: the (unchanged) Apostles Creed will become much more used than the currently-norm-but-significantly-changed Nicene Creed.

Start here for further translation information

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20 Responses to My Our Father gift to the Vatican

    • Yes, Philippa, there is much we can learn from the Lord’s Prayer in the Peshitta, but Liturgiam Authenticam requires formal equivalent translation from the Latin. cf. the new RC creed is not translated from the original Greek.

  1. For me, it’s a matter of poetry and theological art, a sung prayer. Newer translations give us the real text and actual words. The older translations give us the spirit with-in the prayer and its meaning; the beauty or art of the words. So, where with one translation you will get a clear and prisise meaning/translation, and in the other the poetry or song of God. Both are good for different reasons. – Don

  2. Should “lead us not into temptation” be translated from the greek “lead us not into times of testing or trials”? just wondering thanks

    • Bob, are you sure? Others? Our Father, you who are in the heavens? Happy to change it if others concur. Patrick, Liturgiam Authenticam requires translation from the Latin, not the Greek.

  3. Bosco – not to put too fine a point on it — but do we really give a rat’s ass what the Liturgiam Authenticam requires? We broke with a Rome a few centuries ago (and I personally gave up on them several years ago).

  4. I make it (based on my Latin A-Level):

    Pater noster, qui es in caelis,
    Our father, who is in the heavens,
    sanctificetur nomen tuum,
    may your name be sanctified,
    veniat regnum tuum,
    may your kingdom come,
    fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
    may your will be done, just as in heaven, so also in earth.
    Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie,
    Our daily bread give to us today,
    et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
    and release our debts (from) us,
    sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
    just as we also release our debtors.
    Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
    And lead us not into temptation,
    sed libera nos a malo.
    but free us from evil.

    That’s how I’d translate it if I got the text as an unseen, so not very poetic and would be a real mouthful to say.

  5. Who are” may be grammatically correct, but it grates on the ears. Surely one little “qui” can be sacrificed: “Our Father in heaven.” And the Latin notwithstanding, “let us off our debts as we also let off our debtors” sounds like a couple of 1920’s gangsters who decided not to break the kneecaps of the guy who didn’t repay his loan.

  6. I would have said, “you who are in the heavens.” Keeping in mind that Latin can do the “let’s change the relative pronoun case” more easily than modern English. Other than that… Often at Mass, because I find myself having difficulty concentrating on the too-well-known-by-rote common prayers, I actually recite the prayers in Latin (except for the Gloria in excelsis, which I’m not that familiar with); I have to translate the Latin back to myself so that I hear the English words from a different perspective. Your translation is almost exactly what I come up with.

  7. If the you is merely implied, instead of spoken, then the use of are horribly grates on the senses. I would use is.

    Not having studied latin, does latin have separate words for in and on? Spanish does not and based on context we would translate the Spanish en as in or on in English. I think that it should be on earth.

    Hágase tu voluntad, en la tierra como en el cielo.
    Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

  8. The question of “is” or “are” is an interesting one.
    The Latin uses ‘qui es,’ which roughly translates “you who are”. Since ‘es’ is second person singular (“you are”), Bosco must be right in his assertion. If one drops the “you” from the translation, the result is confusing, however.

  9. I’m quite fond of the Apostles’ Creed. Not only does it mention hell, which is much strengthed by its effective expunging from much of religious life, but it mentions that Jesus went there – he is Lord of everywhere,

    • One issue, of course, Ed, is that this is not a creed recognised by our Eastern brothers and sisters, although there isn’t much that springs to mind in it with which they would disagree.

  10. Eric,

    (a) There is a “humor” tag on the entry (and a “humour” tag as well 🙂 )
    (b) There are Catholics – including me – who read Bosco’s blog.

    I thought it was a great entry. (Of course, this from the man who began translating the Aeneid “My story is about war, and about a man – …” Not exactly literal translation.

    • Thanks, Matt. I think you have got one of my points – the new translation’s principle of excessive literalism leads to conclusions that the Vatican is not even prepared to accept. I describe this site as “An ecumenical site of resources and reflections for liturgy, spirituality, and worship, for individuals and communities”. Unfortunately, the tags are in alphabetical order. I think of this post has having a “humour” tag on it (and a “humor” tag as well). 😉 Blessings

  11. In-line with Liturgiam Authenticam, and I think it best as well to get Rome-inclining, English ears more used to Roman way of thinking and of her syntax. Away too with insidious innovation of articles; if it was good enough for Church Fathers, then it should be good enough for likes of us. So much better then to learn Latin with reverent fluency, and to receive one’s orders all the more directly.

    Pater noster, qui es in caelis,
    Our father, who are in heavens,
    sanctificetur nomen tuum,
    be sanctified name your,
    veniat regnum tuum,
    may come kingdom your,
    fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
    be done will your, just as in heaven, and in earth.
    Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie,
    Bread our daily give us today,
    et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
    and release us debts our,
    sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
    just and as we release debtors our.
    Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
    And not us lead in temptation,
    sed libera nos a malo.
    but free us to evil.

    Next steps for lingua Britanniensis:
    1) Rightful restoration of 2nd-person singular
    2) Reinstitution of properly inflected forms:
    a) of nouns, pronouns and adjective by number, gender and case
    b) of verbs by person, tense and voice.

    Then there’ll be no more ambiguity when Rome speaks to her children.

  12. Nice work, Brian. I don’t speak Latin, but I have worked as a professional translator (English to Spanish) and have often had to deal with challenges of syntax and meaning. Literal translations are generally not particularly useful. Meanings don’t get conveyed correctly across the cultural divides that languages embody when the transition from one to the other is too literal.

    PS My husband, who does speak Latin, says “a malo” actually means “from evil.” In Spanish it would be “to evil.”

  13. My apologies for letting slip with one “the” supra. Old habits die hard.

    But that’s just it, Kathy, all this appeasement to idiomaticity in translation has gotten everything mucked up. I think we should come hard around and just do it way Latin. The Romans knew what they meant when they used same preposition with different meaning. So should we.

    Rather than way we have become sadly, one innovation lazy after another from clarity of proto-Indo-European heavily inflected, elaborated and nuanced.

    I say, Romans, Russians and Icelanders got it right by sticking to their guns linguistic, although latter have gone off rails with degenerate innovation of definite article.

    It’s high time we got back to basics, and got our 1st-millenium Ænglisc on (again, we could ban an, se, seo and þæt for rigor’s sake).

    Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum,
    Father of ours, thou who art in heaven,
    Si þin nama gehalgod.
    Be thy name hallowed.
    To becume þin rice
    Come thy wealth
    gewurþe ðin willa, on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
    Become thy will, on earth as also in heaven.
    Urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg,
    Our daily loaf do give to us today,
    and forgyf us ure gyltas, swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum.
    And forgive us of our guilts as also we forgive our guilty
    And ne gelæd þu us on costnunge, ac alys us of yfele.
    And do not lead thou us into temptation, but release us of evil.
    Soþlice.
    Soothly.

    Far sight better, I’d say.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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