Saturday, July 4, 2009

Elizabethan Grammar for Sunday Morning

(Adapted from Life in Elizabethan England: A Compendium of Common Knowledge)

Thee and Thou

Thou takes the subjective form, thee is objective.


"How art thou?" never "how are thee"
What wouldst thou have of me?
I will go with thee.
Thou art a rogue.

When the next word begins with a vowel, use thine for thy.


I like thy face, but

I applaud thine effort.

The "-st" ending is only used with "thou" and only with verbs.


I did see him go with thee, not I didst see him,
And never I didst see-eth him
Wither thou goest I will go.

The "-eth" ending is only used with he, she, and it.


He loveth best that loveth well.

God knoweth why!

Using Thou familiarly:
Thou and thee are familiar or informal forms of you. It is used to address your children, your servants, your wife, your most intimate friends, your dog, and God. (Hey, who knows you better than God?)

Use the more formal you when addressing your parents, your master, your social superiors, your patron, your customers, your officers, and your horse, who may be worth as much as you are.

I recently caught an old John Wayne movie called Angel and the Bad Man in which the heroine, a Quaker, took liberties by addressing John Wayne's character as thee and thou. Well, what do ya know about that? I wondered at the revelation this usage suggested. So having the worldwide web at my fingertips, I googled it and found the grammar lesson I copy-pasted above.

Did you see what I saw? Isn't that neat?

My whole life I've prayed my prayers the way I learned them at my Mother's knee, using Thee and Thy and Thou. It's always just sounded right to me because it's what I'm used to, and I guess I just thought it sounded more respectful. Or something. But, what a wonderful thing to learn, especially at this stage of my life, that using the familiar terms Thee and Thou when I'm talking to Our Lord is really a symbol of love and closeness. They are terms of endearment.

Saying "My God, I love Thee" says it twice.

Here is our Creator, far more than just a friend, infinitely above us, but more dear, more intimate to the very soul of us than any of our earthly loved ones. His image is on the beautiful crucifix above the altar, and there He is, truly present, raised above our priest's head at the Consecration. He looks down on me and I look up at Him with new understanding -- and I can just say Thou.


Charlotte (Matilda) said...

I just recently made the same discovery. My flabber was really gasted! : )

I have always heard people complain about changing thees and thous to yous and yours in prayer ~ that Thee was a more formal and respectful way to address Our Lord and using You was a less formal/respectful substitute. Come to find out, it's the other way around!

Blessings each day said...

The key to all prayer is in feeling a closeness to our Creator in a loving way, that makes us become who we are meant to be.

Will re-read this when I get back from our two day jaunt.

blessings and hugs,


MightyMom said...

cool beans!

Linda Higgins said...

WOW thanks Lisa! I do love a prayer that uses, thee, thou, and thine appropriately! I even cringe when I listen to a prayer, even though heart felt and "you" "him" is used! ewww thank you!