Words Make a Big Difference

w on w

In Madeleine L’Engle’s book, ​Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art​, she talks a lot about language. One thing she discusses is the changes that were made in the Book of Common Prayer. I was not raised with this, but we do have a copy in our home, so I went to browse it one day. It has prayers and Psalms in it. The Psalms I am familiar with.

Engle said, “Where language is weak, theology is weakened” ​ and went on to give a few examples of places where the original language was more detailed and poetic. Such as: The pelican in the wilderness has become vulture; praise him dragons and all deeps has become sea monsters.

​But in this next example, the words make a big difference in the impact of the original message: ​ “Be ye sure that the Lord He is God; it I He that has made us and not we ourselves” ​ now reads: ​“For the Lord Himself has made us and we are His.”

To make the language contemporary we could just cut out the thees and thous​, the giveths and takeths, and keep the rest as it is. 

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