Letter: Benefits of the Lord's Prayer in Tescospeak

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Brown reports (10 November) on the Bishop of Norwich's recommendation to his diocesan synod that parishes should adopt the 'traditional' form of the Lord's Prayer. The bishop does so on two grounds, in one of which he is mistaken and about the other he is apparently ignorant.

The version which appears in the Alternative Service Book 1980 is only a Church of England deviation from ecumenical practice in as much as the General Synod refused to accept the ecumenical form 'Do not bring us to the time of trial' in favour of the older 'Lead us not into temptation'. The original form which came from international ecumenical consultation was abandoned by Anglicans in England.

The Joint Liturgical Group of Great Britain, in consultation with educationists, recommended at the beginning of this year parallel use in schools of the two versions quoted by Mr Brown. The intention was to allow non-churchgoers to learn the Lord's Prayer not only in traditional language but also to encourage them to learn this central prayer in a language close to their own. This recommendation, which was passed to the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, seems to have passed the bishop by.

Finally, the older version which Mr Brown quotes is indeed still widely used: the Roman Catholic Church uses it in the Mass. However, he should try it in Scotland; there they speak of debts and debtors rather than trespasses and trespassers. Moreover, the form quoted is 'Modified Traditional'.

I understand that in the House of Commons they do indeed use the traditional form 'Our Father, which art in heaven . . .' None the less, John Gummer ought not to be so snobby about 'Tescospeak'. Many of his discerning constituents shop there.

Yours faithfully,


Assistant Secretary

Joint Liturgical Group

Barnoldswick, Lancashire

11 November