Lord's Prayer (revised)

As a devotional exercise, I’ve tried to spend a bit of time revising the Lord’s prayer (and hopefully not leaving orthodoxy in the process).

Our Storyteller,
who dwells in heights above:
Let your name
      your reign
      your will
brood o’er the world as a dove.
Give us today that day’s bread,
forgive us as we forgive.
Lead us not into battle,
but deliver us from the enemy.
For in you our endless story ends.

1. “Storyteller” loses Father element (personal, relationship element) and also sounds a bit silly.
2. Since I’m trying to pull the name, reign, will elements together into one phrase (with only one verb), I’ve risked losing the meaning of the verbs (venerated be thy name, thy kingdom come, will be done). Beyond that, it seems like using the word “dine”, even though I love the resonance with the next line, could easily fall into the prosaic exactly when power should be communicated. This is the biggest concern.
3. I’m meaning for “depths” to be contrasted with “heights”, but not to the extent that heights are good and depths are bad. I’m not sure that this comes across clearly. I’ve changed “in depths” to “with dirt”. This might help eliminate the dualism and manage to refer to man (created with dirt) and the earth itself. The disadvantage is that this is even further from the text. I’ve tried this section over again with “brood o’er the world as a dove” (nice underhanded reference to the role of the Holy Spirit). Another possibility would be something like “fill the world as a flood” or some such thing.
4. The “that day’s bread” arises from a couple of different thoughts. On the one hand, the word used there is the word used for the bread soldiers would get for the next day. So they were getting tomorrow’s bread today. Also, I liked the idea of relating the getting of the bread with the hope that is expressed in the name, reign, will bit. And tying this together reminds us of the eating of communion that is in the background. So, in partaking in communion, we are eating tomorrow’s bread (tomorrow being new creation, when the Spirit has filled all), which is Jesus Christ, today.
5. I’ve also left the next phrase on forgiveness as part of the bread bit.
6. The shortened bit on forgiveness emphasized the reflection of God’s forgiveness in ours, but also loses the “forgive those who transgress against us”, which not only makes the example more concrete (think of others sinning against you), but also reminds us (via the reflection) that we have sinned against God.
7. It’s possible that exchanging “battle” for “temptation” goes too far…though I’m not quite sure how.
8. The military metaphor can work, though I’d prefer to emphasize the liberation aspect if possible.
9. Replacing the “For Thine…” with the bit on our “endless story ends” is probably not appropriate, but it does have the advantage of hearkening back to the Storyteller aspect (the creative aspect) and playing on the words end (as stopping point) and end (as purpose). It also recognizes that what we’ve been talking about (and everything else) is summed up or brought to fulfillment in him (which is, I think, what that section is getting at). However, it does strike one with less euphony and is a much starker ending.

Thoughts, suggestions, complaints?


6 thoughts on “Lord's Prayer (revised)

  1. What was the purpose of the devotional exercise? To increase your appreciation for traditional, authoritative, revealed religious language?


    Seriously, though, I think most of your own critiques are appropriate. “Storyteller” is unbearably silly, and insufficiently precise. Does “Our Storyteller” mean (as it would in normal language) “The one who tells stories to us” or (as you seem to mean it) “the one who tells the story of us”? Either way, it doesn’t work for “Pater noster.”

    I appreciate the attempt to pull the name, reign, and will together in the same phrase–but I don’t know if it works. Names, reigns, and wills simply do different things, and none of them broods over the world like a dove. And speaking of brooding, I’ve never seen a dove brood, either. I get the imagery you’re going for, but it’s a mixed metaphor.

    I liked “forgive us as we forgive” and “deliver us from the enemy”, though. I don’t know what “in you our endless story ends” means.

    Seriously, you have increased my appreciation for traditional language. Knowing you as I do, I know you haven’t lapsed into heresy: although I think your version of the prayer could very easily be prayed by dozens of varieties of common heretics. Someone who didn’t know you might assume you were one.

  2. No worries.

    My thought on “Storyteller” (if taken properly) would point back to creation as well as to the story of Israel, culminating in Jesus. Like I said, it does sound silly, but that at least was what I was trying to do. It is imprecise, though I’m not sure that “the one who tells stories to us” would be all that improper either as God does tell stories to us, as long as it would be somehow evident that the story he’s telling is our story.

    And you’re right, names, reigns and wills do do different things, which is why I was struggling so much. The traditional version leaves the verbs with the nouns and lets the trailing phrase wrap it all up. But of course, much of my struggle was trying to deal with the inane weakness of modern English.

    Doves do brood though. So I don’t think that it’s a mixed metaphor (the only metaphor in that phrase is that of the dove sitting on eggs). It certainly isn’t an obvious metaphor though, and doesn’t follow as cleanly from the nouns as I’d like, but in my mind I hoped it would connect with the creation metaphor of the Spirit over the water and Jesus’ baptism where the Spirit does the same thing (that time, as a dove). However, do you think “cover the world like a flood” would work any better? Obviously the reference would be off, but would the metaphor be clearer?

    I guess the ending line was simply an attempt to reference the first line (we both begin and end with the storyteller), while emphasizing that our end (our telos, our purpose) lies in Him, and that because it lies in him our story (the story of his people) will be endless (ie eternal). So the storyline finds its summing up, it’s goal in God, and thusly all the stuff from the “thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever” is included (since earlier we mentioned his name, reign, and will being accomplished as part of that story) therein. As an ending, it is rather abrupt, but then again, so is the prayer without the “For thine…”.

    And in the end you’re right. A lot of people would get their own ideas (right and wrong) confirmed by this. Also, it is nice to go back to the simpler wording of the traditional language and relax a bit. But it was helpful at trying to fill out the prayer, emphasize certain meanings, recognize that some meanings will be lost by the wording, trying to come up with something that could actually sound ok when spoken, etc. If I knew the Psalms at all, I wouldn’t mind trying it with some of them as well. Perhaps later.

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