Here’s something I discovered very recently….
When I was recuperating in the hospital ward following my brain haemorrhage, I had some really nice fellowship with an older brother in the bed next to me, who was from the Brethren assemblies. He shared some good and some funny stories with me. One thing he let me into was how elders within his denomination mark out young men for ministry: if they pray to God, addressing Him with ‘thou, thee and thy’, it showed respect and propriety. He agreed how ridiculous it was but stated that was how many of them made judgements. Safe to say that they’re not the only church or denomination to have quirks like this!
In my Linguistics Masters, I am doing a module on the history of the English language. I was surprised to discover that up to around the 17th century or so, Middle English had two forms of you – plural you, and singular thou. Just as in French up to the present day, these were used in dual settings i.e. the plural used for formal addressing and introductions with strangers, and the singular reserved for informal greetings with friends and family. Tyndale, one of the pioneering translators of the early 16th century, realised that scripture tells us how informal we can be approaching God. We can say ‘Abba’, which means ‘Daddy’ (Mark 14:36; Rom.8:15; Gal.4:6). Tyndale made a conscious decision to use the informal singular form thou, thee, thy and thine in passages where someone addresses God. The compilers of the KJV decided to use a lot of Tyndale’s great work, long after he had been martyred for his faith, and retained this usage that he enshrined for eternity.
How ironic is it that now, many see this usage as archaic and formal, and ‘respectful’ towards God, when it actually stands as testimony to our INFORMALITY and familiarity with our Daddy in heaven?
Grace be with you.