It’s nearly four hundred years old, not always easy to understand, yet more influential than any English translation of the Bible in history – and it is making an unexpected comeback in our lifetime. I’m talking about the “King James Bible” or, as it is called in
If you were following its
Apart from Shakespeare and a few hymns like “How Great Thou Art”, that were excused from up-dating, “King James English could not talk to the un-churched world”. (I thought the un-churched lacked salvation – not language skills).
Finally (and still in my life-time!) the question of English for today seems to be “panning out”. Among the various
Using the old English and understanding it do not always go hand in hand, unfortunately. But this presents the church with an exciting challenge for teaching.
For example, since 1982 users of “Lutheran Worship” have been singing “Holy God, We Praise Your Name”. Now in the LSB they will be going back to the original wording: “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.”
This means we have to teach people that “thy”, “thee” and “thou” are pronouns that express a precious intimacy not found in modern English pronouns. They are not some “spiritual” form, but rather a “familiar” form, common in European languages, where one uses different pronouns for different people depending on how close you are to them in friendship. Like the German “du”, “thou” means “you – my familiar friend”.
Dr. Paul Grime, executive director of the Synod’s Commission on Worship, says the commission, in preparing LSB, strove to distinguish between archaic and obsolete language. “While we updated words that were hard to understand or which have dropped out of usage,” he says, “we kept others that made sense or which never needed to be changed in the first place.” Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!