Sunday, September 11, 2016

Not in the Mood

An overlooked aspect of Christianity in the English-speaking world: churches are one of the few places where the subjunctive mood can be heard regularly.

Few are conversant with the grammatical definition, but the subjunctive mood is easily recognizable when it is used.

The Lord be with you.The Lord is with you.
God bless America.God blesses America.
Heaven forbid.Heaven forbids.
God shed his grace on thee.God sheds his grace on thee..

Rules about the subjunctive can be quite involved, and one is likely to be called a fuddy-duddy if one insists on following them. Furthermore, over-use risks losing the younger audience:
Should churches regularly update their translations, keeping the religion fresh and relevant, or preserve tradition and authenticity? The debate is as old as the faiths themselves....The practical answer is that young people and new converts should study in their own vernaculars. As they progress in the faith they can get closer to the original through study.
Personally, I like the formal--some say musty--sentence construction because it reminds me of my youth. It's inevitable, however, that as we fade away so will our language.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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