When will we do away with the awful response "And also
Not unjustly, for various reasons, the modern response "And also
with you" has been severely criticised. More serious than its
inelegant banality is the failure to recognise doctrinal
significance in the traditional "And with your spirit".
It was the International Consultation on English Texts (ICET)
that treated the word "spirit" as a Semitic parallel meaning "you"
- similar to the Old Testament greeting of Boaz to the reapers:
"The Lord be with you," to which they reply, "The Lord bless you"
(Ruth 2.4). Not everyone, however, was convinced by this
translation, and research demonstrated that more was involved, and
that the elimination of reference to "spirit" in the dialogue was
Diversity of scholarly opinion among Anglican liturgists
produced unfinished business on this much used but
little-understood exchange of greetings. This has left its mark in
revised services, with the provision of the alternative "The Lord
is here. His spirit is with us," in Common Worship Order
One (Contemporary), and similarly in the 2004 Rite of the Church in
Wales, as also in the revised Prayer Book of the Church of Ireland,
where it is given precedence over "The Lord be with you," etc.
The strongest case for retaining the traditional response was
made by W. C. van Unnik in his influential essay "Dominus
vobiscum: The Background of a Liturgical Formula" (in A. J. B.
Higgins, New Testament Essays: Studies in memory of Thomas
Walter Manson, Manchester University Press, 1959).
He wrote: "The [traditional] response of the congregation is
very much to the point: when the minister assures them of the
presence of the Sprit who 'is with them', i.e. with their spirit as
Christian folk, they in their turn assure him of the same divine
assistance with his spirit. . ." (page 294).
This point of view was taken up in comments of the C of E's
Liturgical Commission as long ago as 1968. In Modern Liturgical
Texts, it was observed that "for the early Christians, prayer
was the work of the Spirit. To offer prayer acceptable to God, the
assistance of the spirit was necessary - it was a combined action
of the divine and human spirit" (page 31).
In the New Order of the Roman Missal (2010), this
reasoning has prevailed: "And with your spirit" has been
reinstated. For Anglicans, it is unlikely that "also with you" will
disappear from our service books. In practice, however, it can
conveniently be removed by the invariable use of the alternative
"The Lord is here," or by the reasonable claim that since the
favoured "Dominus vobiscum" dialogue is used in the
Traditional Language Order One in Common Worship, it does
not require further synodical authorisation to transfer it to
modern-language texts whenever necessary.
(Canon) Terry Palmer
Why do retired clergy still wear their clerical
Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta
House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.