Hollow Hallowed

I had my class write down the Lord’s Prayer for memory work. Many of them, especially since this was the first memory work assignment of the year, were writing from their long term memory and not from the printed text from which they had to study. That means they were navigating the archaic language by ear instead of by memorizing the spelling of the words. The challenging words were often missed: thy, thine, trespass and especially Hallowed. Except for the occasional "my will be done" which is bad enough, I was struck by the phrase Hollow be Thy name. Is this what they are picturing in their heads when they pray the Lord’s Prayer? Hollow is the name of God? What an insight into the minds of the students!

It’s important to know that our school has children from all walks of life, more than a majority of them do not claim a church home. They speak the Lord’s Prayer every Wednesday in chapel but the words themselves have not apparently become a part of what they believe, at least not as far a spelling conveys that meaning.

Is the language of our teaching of the Lord’s Prayer adding another level of difficulty where there doesn’t need to be one? When we continue to teach it in this older English form are we adding a stumbling block where one doesn’t need to be? The common story in favor of keeping this tradition is the pastor at the bedside of a near comatose parishioner who, even when near all other mental faculties have left them, is still able to mouth the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Is that enough? Does that story tip the scales or are we using it to short-circuit the next generation’s understanding of this central prayer. Although our Bible versions have left this language behind by more than a dozen translations and over four centuries of development of the English language perhaps it is time to let it go. Are the older generations ready and willing to do that? Does a generation who has learned it by rote and says, without knowing, that hollow is thy name, tell us something so very important that we should not overlook it?

This year I have the joy of teaching the Lord’s Prayer again. I know by the end of the class they will know and understand these difficult phrases but we’ve added a few steps in that process by adhering to this tradition. I have to anxiously ponder–if this is adding a stumbling block how soon until the millstone is hung about our necks?

Published in: on August 3, 2012 at 11:53 am  Comments (1)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://treasuryofdailyprayer.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/hollow-hallowed/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I commend your loving heart for these children by wanting to make the language of Lord’s Prayer simpler. However I think the real issue is that most of these children are not being properly taught at home. Their parents are not showing by example what it means to Hallow God’s name. They are not instructing and explaining to their children the prayer that our Lord wanted us to pray. What would we change if we started changing this prayer? Can anyone understand the Lord’s Prayer unless the Holy Spirit quickens a man’s heart? I’m not against using simpler language. I just think we should be careful. I wish that fixing this problems of children not understanding the Lord’s Prayer was as easy to fix as making the language simpler. It breaks my heart also when I see children who I love turning away from Christ. This problems to me is so much deeper than language. My heart breaks for this generation. Yet when I despair I know that God is able to save. I must pray and know that He is at work in this generation even when it seems hopeless. I’m so glad that you feel a burden for these kids. I am so glad you are their teacher. Praying for you and your students! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: