Friday, November 30, 2012

Grammar or Heresy?

This was the benediction after vespers at a recent synodical function:
Be the great God between your shoulders
To protect you in your going and coming;
Be the Son of Mary near your heart;
And be the perfect Spirit upon you pouring.
It's by the Rev. Carol Ford, of the Kirk of Scotland, inspired by Deuteronomy 33:12, or so says the Vatican website.

In writing, we can see that this is the subjunctive mood ("be that as it may").  However, we are reliably informed that some listeners took it for an imperative ("be thou my vision," or "be gone").  Were it the latter, it would indeed have been ill-advised.

Which is just one more reason that grammar matters.


mark said...

Whew!!!!! Probably not a good choice.

Father Anonymous said...

What it really is, to be honest, is an example of what happens when people like me get too enthusiastic about writing old-fashioned English.

There was a time when you could beat up on the syntax of our language, and the grammar would carry the meaning through. I'm beginning to think, with deep regret, that it's just not realistic anymore.