For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory . . .
Every time I go to a funeral or wedding where Protestants come and join us at Mass, I observe that our guests seem a bit lost and ill at ease. They find a seat, look around, see someone who seems to know what is going on, and try to follow them to know when to sit, stand, etc. When we reach the part in the Mass where we pray the Our Father, they are happy to finally be able to participate. They KNOW this part . . . but then we get to those last sentences . . . and it is awkward. What was a moment of shared prayer becomes a moment of embarrassment for our Protestant friends.
When I read a post on New Things a while back, I got to thinking about that again. Why is it that Protestants have that (rather beautiful) sentence added on, and Catholics do not?
I was curious as to when the change happened, historically speaking. I did some quick research, and found some interesting things. I discovered that most Protestants, some Anglicans, and the Eastern Orthodox churches all include the doxology. The Orthodox liturgy has the entire congregation say the prayer together, but the priest alone says that last line. After Vatican II, it was included as part of the Mass in the Roman Catholic tradition, not directly as part of the Lord’s Prayer, but after a separate brief prayer by the priest.
Old translations reveal mixed results. A German translation from 380 AD includes it. English translations from 995 AD and 1389 AD do not. These latter were translated from the Latin Vulgate, which also did not include it. The Latin Vulgate agreed with ancient Greek texts. It was translated between 382 and 405 AD from Hebrew and Aramaic texts by St. Jerome.
The King James translators sought to return to the original languages rather than use the Latin version for their source. By 1526, the King James Bible had the added verses. At the time, those translators relied on manuscripts which were thought to be the best and oldest available. Since that time, other original Scripture manuscripts were found that were even more ancient and considered to be more reliable transcriptions. These older texts, often dating from the early Byzantine times, were written in Greek and consistent with the translation work of St. Jerome. They generally did not include the doxology at the end of the prayer.
It looks like that last line was not part of the original transcribing of the Lord’s Prayer, although occasionally some ancient scribes added it as the next verse. Habits are hard to change, and no doubt this will continue to be a difference between us for a long time. I wonder if the Catholic Church would ever be able to be the one to acquiesce and make a change.
Part of me wishes that we, as a church community, might indeed be the ones magnanimous enough to make that change, and add that last verse to our recitation for the sake of unity and brotherhood. It seems a small gesture to make, at least to my simple mind.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Christians said that most important prayer the same way, in unity and harmony, praying together as brothers and sisters, without hesitation or stumbling?