The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer, also called the Our Father (Latin: Pater Noster), is a central Christian prayer which, according to the New Testament, Jesus taught as the way to pray:

Pray then in this way … (Matthew 6:9 NRSV)

When you pray, say … (Luke 11:2 NRSV)

Two versions of this prayer are recorded in the gospels: a longer form within the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, and a shorter form in the Gospel of Luke when “one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'” (Luke 11:1 NRSV). Lutheran theologian Harold Buls suggested that both were original, the Matthean version spoken by Jesus early in his ministry in Galilee, and the Lucan version one year later, “very likely in Judea”.

The first three of the seven petitions in Matthew address God; the other four are related to human needs and concerns. The Matthew account alone includes the “Your will be done” and the “Rescue us from the evil one” (or “Deliver us from evil”) petitions. Both original Greek texts contain the adjective epiousios, which does not appear in any other classical or Koine Greek literature; while controversial, “daily” has been the most common English-language translation of this word. Protestants usually conclude the prayer with a doxology, a later addendum appearing in some manuscripts of Matthew.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen.

-Matthew 6:9-13

Lord's Prayer, three versions from left to right: (1) from Codex Zographensis in Glagolitic script (1100s); (2) from Codex Assemanius in Glagolitic script (1000s); (3) from Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander in bulgarian Cyrillic script (1355).

Lord’s Prayer, three versions from left to right: (1) from Codex Zographensis in Glagolitic script (1100s); (2) from Codex Assemanius in Glagolitic script (1000s); (3) from Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander in bulgarian Cyrillic script (1355).

Original Greek text and Latin translations

Original Greek text  Latin translations
Standard edition of Greek text

1. πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς
(pater hēmōn ho en tois ouranois)

2. ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου
(hagiasthētō to onoma sou)

3. ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου
(elthetō hē basileia sou)

4. γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς
(genēthētō to thelēma sou hōs en ouranō(i) kai epi gēs)

5. τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον
(ton arton hēmōn ton epiousion dos hēmin sēmeron)

6. καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν
(kai aphes hēmin ta opheilēmata hēmōn hōs kai hēmeis aphēkamen tois opheiletais hēmōn)

7. καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ
(kai mē eisenegkēs hēmas eis peirasmon alla rhusai hēmas apo tou ponērou)

Vulgata Clementina (1692)
1. pater noster qui es in cælis
([pater noster kwi es in tʃelis])
2. sanctificetur nomen tuum
([sanktifitʃetur nomen tuum])
3. adveniat regnum tuum
([adveniat reɲum tuum])
4. fiat voluntas tua sicut in cælo et in terra
([fiat voluntas tua sikut in tʃelo et in terra])
5. panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie
([panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis odie])
6. et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris
([et dimitte nobis debita nostra sikut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris])
7. et ne nos inducas in tentationem sed libera nos a malo
([et ne nos indukas in tentatsionem sed libera nos a malo])

English versions

Main article: History of the Lord’s Prayer in English

There are several different English translations of the Lord’s Prayer from Greek or Latin, beginning around AD 650 with the Northumbrian translation. Of those in current liturgical use, the three best-known are:

  • The translation in the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Church of England
  • The slightly modernized form used in the Catholic and (often with doxology) some Protestant Churches
  • The 1988 translation of the ecumenical English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC)

The square brackets in two of the texts below indicate the doxology often added at the end of the prayer by Protestants and, in a slightly different form, by the Byzantine Rite (“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”), among whom the prayer proper is usually recited by the cantors and congregation in unison, and the doxology by the priest as the conclusion of the prayer. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Church of England adds it in some services, but not in all. For example, the doxology is not used in the 1662 BCP at Morning and Evening Prayer when it is preceded by the Kyrie eleison. Older English translations of the Bible, based on late Byzantine Greek manuscripts, included it, but it is excluded in critical editions of the New Testament, such as that of the United Bible Societies. It is absent in the oldest manuscripts and is not considered to be part of the original text of Matthew 6:9–13.

Latin Rite Roman Catholic usage has never attached the doxology to the Lord’s Prayer. The doxology does appear in the Roman Rite Mass as revised in 1969. After the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, the priest says a prayer known as the embolism. In the official ICEL English translantion, the embolism reads: “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” This elaborates on the final petition, “Deliver us from evil.” The people then respond to this with the doxology: “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.”

The translators of the 1611 King James Bible assumed that a Greek manuscript they possessed was ancient and therefore adopted the phrase “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever” into the Lord’s Prayer of Matthew’s Gospel. However, the use of the doxology in English dates from at least 1549 with the First Prayer Book of Edward VI which was influenced by William Tyndale’s New Testament translation in 1526. Later scholarship demonstrated that inclusion of the doxology in New Testament manuscripts was actually a later addition based in part on Eastern liturgical tradition.

Authorized Version (known also as the King James Version)

Although Matthew 6:12 uses the term debts, most older English versions of the Lord’s Prayer use the term trespasses, while ecumenical versions often use the term sins. The latter choice may be due to Luke 11:4, which uses the word sins, while the former may be due to Matthew 6:14 (immediately after the text of the prayer), where Jesus speaks of trespasses. As early as the third century, Origen of Alexandria used the word trespasses (παραπτώματα) in the prayer. Although the Latin form that was traditionally used in Western Europe has debita (debts), most English-speaking Christians (except Scottish Presbyterians and some others of the Dutch Reformed tradition) use trespasses. For example, the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America, as well as some Congregational heritage churches in the United Church of Christ follow the version found in Matthew 6 in the Authorized Version (known also as the King James Version), which in the prayer uses the words “debts” and “debtors”.

All these versions are based on the text in Matthew, rather than Luke, of the prayer given by Jesus:

Analysis

St. Augustine gives the following analysis of the Lord’s Prayer, which elaborates on Jesus’ words just before it in Matthew’s gospel: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then in this way” (Mt. 6:8-9):

We need to use words (when we pray) so that we may remind ourselves to consider carefully what we are asking, not so that we may think we can instruct the Lord or prevail on him. When we say: “Hallowed be your name,” we are reminding ourselves to desire that his name, which in fact is always holy, should also be considered holy among men. …But this is a help for men, not for God. …And as for our saying: “Your kingdom come,” it will surely come whether we will it or not. But we are stirring up our desires for the kingdom so that it can come to us and we can deserve to reign there. …When we say: “Deliver us from evil,” we are reminding ourselves to reflect on the fact that we do not yet enjoy the state of blessedness in which we shall suffer no evil. …It was very appropriate that all these truths should be entrusted to us to remember in these very words. Whatever be the other words we may prefer to say (words which the one praying chooses so that his disposition may become clearer to himself or which he simply adopts so that his disposition may be intensified), we say nothing that is not contained in the Lord’s Prayer, provided of course we are praying in a correct and proper way.

This excerpt from Augustine is included in the Office of Readings in the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours.

Many have written Biblical commentaries on the Lord’s prayer. Contained below are a variety of selections from some of those commentaries.

Introduction

This subheading and those that follow use 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) (see above)

Our Father, which art in heaven

“Our” indicates that the prayer is that of a group of people who consider themselves children of God and who call God their “Father”. “In heaven” indicates that the Father who is addressed is distinct from human fathers on earth.

Augustine interpreted “heaven” (coelum, sky) in this context as meaning “in the hearts of the righteous, as it were in His holy temple”.

First Petition

Hallowed be thy Name;

See also: Names of God in Christianity and Matthew 6:9

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams explains this phrase as a petition that people may look upon God’s name as holy, as something that inspires awe and reverence, and that they may not trivialize it by making God a tool for their purposes, to “put other people down, or as a sort of magic to make themselves feel safe”. He sums up the meaning of the phrase by saying: “Understand what you’re talking about when you’re talking about God, this is serious, this is the most wonderful and frightening reality that we could imagine, more wonderful and frightening than we can imagine.”

Second Petition

Thy kingdom come;

See also: Matthew 6:10

“This petition has its parallel in the Jewish prayer, ‘May he establish his Kingdom during your life and during your days.'” In the gospels Jesus speaks frequently of God’s kingdom, but never defines the concept: “He assumed this was a concept so familiar that it did not require definition.” Concerning how Jesus’ audience in the gospels would have understood him, G. E. Ladd turns to the concept’s Hebrew Biblical background: “The Hebrew word malkuth […] refers first to a reign, dominion, or rule and only secondarily to the realm over which a reign is exercised. […] When malkuth is used of God, it almost always refers to his authority or to his rule as the heavenly King.” This petition looks to the perfect establishment of God’s rule in the world in the future, an act of God resulting in the eschatological order of the new age.

Some see the coming of God’s kingdom as a divine gift to be prayed for, not a human achievement. Others believe that the Kingdom will be fostered by the hands of those faithful who work for a better world. These believe that Jesus’ commands to feed the hungry and clothe the needy make the seeds of the kingdom already present on earth (Lk 8:5-15; Mt 25:31-40).

Hilda C. Graef notes that the operative Greek word, basileia, means both kingdom and kingship (i.e., reign, dominion, governing, etc.), but that the English word kingdom loses this double meaning. Kingship adds a psychological meaning to the petition: one is also praying for the condition of soul where one follows God’s will.

Third Petition

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven:

See also: Matthew 6:10

According to William Barclay, this phrase is a couplet with the same meaning as “Thy kingdom come.” Barclay argues: “The kingdom is a state of things on earth in which God’s will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven. …To do the will of God and to be in the Kingdom of God are one and the same thing.”

John Ortberg interprets this phrase as follows: “Many people think our job is to get my afterlife destination taken care of, then tread water till we all get ejected and God comes back and torches this place. But Jesus never told anybody – neither his disciples nor us – to pray, ‘Get me out of here so I can go up there.’ His prayer was, ‘Make up there come down here.’ Make things down here run the way they do up there.” The request that “thy will be done” is God’s invitation to “join him in making things down here the way they are up there.”

Fourth Petition

Give us this day our daily (epiousios) bread;

See also: Matthew 6:11
See also: Epiousios

As mentioned earlier in this article, the original word ἐπιούσιος (epiousios), commonly characterized as daily, is unique to the Lord’s Prayer in all of ancient Greek literature. The word is almost a hapax legomenon, occurring only in Luke and Matthew’s versions of the Lord’s Prayer, and nowhere else in any other extant Greek texts. While epiousios is often substituted by the word “daily,” all other New Testament translations from the Greek into “daily” otherwise reference hemeran (ἡμέραν, “the day”), which does not appear in this usage.

Via linguistic parsing, Jerome translated “ἐπιούσιον” (epiousios) as “supersubstantialem” in the Gospel of Matthew, but chose “cotidianum” (“daily”) in the Gospel of Luke. This wide-ranging difference with respect to meaning of epiousios is discussed in detail in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church by way of an inclusive approach toward tradition as well as a literal one for meaning: “Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of ‘this day’, to confirm us in trust ‘without reservation’. Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence. Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the ‘medicine of immortality,’ without which we have no life within us.”

Epiousios is translated as supersubstantialem in the Vulgate (Matthew 6:11) and accordingly as supersubstantial in the Douay-Rheims Bible (Matthew 6:11).

Barclay M. Newman’s A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, published in a revised edition in 2010 by the United Bible Societies, has the following entry:

ἐπι|ούσιος, ον (εἰμί) of doubtful meaning, for todayfor the coming daynecessary for existence.

It thus derives the word from the preposition ἐπί (epi) and the verb εἰμί (eimi), from the latter of which are derived words such as οὐσία (ousia), the range of whose meanings is indicated in A Greek–English Lexicon.

Fifth Petition

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;

See also: Matthew 6:12

The Presbyterian and other Reformed churches tend to use the rendering “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists are more likely to say “trespasses… those who trespass against us”. The “debts” form appears in the first English translation of the Bible, by John Wycliffe in 1395 (Wycliffe spelling “dettis”). The “trespasses” version appears in the 1526 translation by William Tyndale (Tyndale spelling “treaspases”). In 1549 the first Book of Common Prayer in English used a version of the prayer with “trespasses”. This became the “official” version used in Anglican congregations. On the other hand, the 1611 King James Version, the version specifically authorized for the Church of England, has “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”.

After the request for bread, Matthew and Luke diverge slightly. Matthew continues with a request for debts to be forgiven in the same manner as people have forgiven those who have debts against them. Luke, on the other hand, makes a similar request about sins being forgiven in the manner of debts being forgiven between people. The word “debts” (ὀφειλήματα) does not necessarily mean financial obligations, as shown by the use of the verbal form of the same word (ὀφείλετε) in passages such as Romans 13:8. The Aramaic word ḥôbâ can mean “debt” or “sin”. This difference between Luke’s and Matthew’s wording could be explained by the original form of the prayer having been in Aramaic. The generally accepted interpretation is thus that the request is for forgiveness of sin, not of supposed loans granted by God. Asking for forgiveness from God was a staple of Jewish prayers (e.g., Psalm 51). It was also considered proper for individuals to be forgiving of others, so the sentiment expressed in the prayer would have been a common one of the time.

Anthony C. Deane, Canon of Worcester Cathedral, suggested that the choice of the word “ὀφειλήματα” (debts), rather than “ἁμαρτίας” (sins), indicates a reference to failures to use opportunities of doing good. He linked this with the parable of the sheep and the goats (also in Matthew’s Gospel), in which the grounds for condemnation are not wrongdoing in the ordinary sense, but failure to do right, missing opportunities for showing love to others.[Matt. 25:31–46]

“As we forgive …”. Divergence between Matthew’s “debts” and Luke’s “sins” is relatively trivial compared to the impact of the second half of this statement. The verses immediately following the Lord’s Prayer,[Matt. 6:14–15] show Jesus teaching that the forgiveness of our sin/debt (by God) is linked with how we forgive others, as in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant [Matt. 18:23–35], which Matthew gives later. R. T. France comments:

The point is not so much that forgiving is a prior condition of being forgiven, but that forgiving cannot be a one-way process. Like all God’s gifts it brings responsibility; it must be passed on. To ask for forgiveness on any other basis is hypocrisy. There can be no question, of course, of our forgiving being in proportion to what we are forgiven, as 18:23–35 makes clear.

Sixth Petition

And lead us not into temptation,

See also: Matthew 6:13

Interpretations of the penultimate petition of the prayer – not to be led by God into peirasmos – vary considerably. The range of meanings of the Greek word “πειρασμός” (peirasmos) is illustrated in New Testament Greek lexicons. In different contexts it can mean temptation, testing, trial, experiment. Although the traditional English translation uses the word “temptation” and Carl Jung saw God as actually leading people astray, Christians generally interpret the petition as not contradicting James 1:13–14: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” Some see the petition as an eschatological appeal against unfavourable Last Judgment, a theory supported by the use of the word “peirasmos” in this sense in Revelation 3:10. Others see it as a plea against hard tests described elsewhere in scripture, such as those of Job. It is also read as: “Do not let us be led (by ourselves, by others, by Satan) into temptations”. Since it follows shortly after a plea for daily bread (i.e., material sustenance), it is also seen as referring to not being caught up in the material pleasures given. A similar phrase appears in Matthew 26:41 and Luke 22:40 in connection with the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane.

Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a translation of the Holy Bible which was not completed before his death, used: “And suffer us not to be led into temptation”.

In a conversation on the Italian TV channel TV2000 on 6 December 2017, Pope Francis commented that the then Italian wording of this petition (similar to the traditional English) was a poor translation. He said “the French” (i.e., the Bishops’ Conference of France) had changed the petition to “Do not let us fall in/into temptation”. He was referring to the 2017 change to a new French version, Et ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation (“Do not let us enter into temptation”), but spoke of it in terms of the Spanish translation, no nos dejes caer en la tentación (“do not let us fall in/into temptation”), that he was accustomed to recite in Argentina before his election as Pope. He explained: “I am the one who falls; it’s not him [God] pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen”. Anglican theologian Ian Paul said that such a proposal was “stepping into a theological debate about the nature of evil”.

In January 2018, the German Bishops’ Conference rejected any rewording of their translation of the Lord’s Prayer.

In November 2018, the Episcopal Conference of Italy adopted a new edition of the Messale Romano, the Italian translation of the Roman Missal. One of the changes made from the older (1983) edition was to render this petition as non abbandonarci alla tentazione (“do not abandon us to temptation”).The Italian-speaking Waldensian Evangelical Church maintains its translation of the petition: non esporci alla tentazione (“do not expose us to temptation”).

Seventh Petition

But deliver us from evil:

See also: Matthew 6:13

Translations and scholars are divided over whether the final word here refers to “evil” in general or “the evil one” (the devil) in particular. In the original Greek, as well as in the Latin translation, the word could be either of neuter (evil in general) or masculine (the evil one) gender. Matthew’s version of the prayer appears in the Sermon on the Mount, in earlier parts of which the term is used to refer to general evil. Later parts of Matthew refer to the devil when discussing similar issues. However, the devil is never referred to as the evil one in any known Aramaic sources. While John Calvin accepted the vagueness of the term’s meaning, he considered that there is little real difference between the two interpretations, and that therefore the question is of no real consequence. Similar phrases are found in John 17:15 and 2 Thessalonians 3:3.

Doxology

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.

See also: Matthew 6:13

Content

The doxology sometimes attached to the prayer in English is similar to a passage in 1 Chronicles – “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.”It is also similar to the paean to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel – “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory,”

The doxology has been interpreted as connected with the final petition: “Deliver us from evil”. The kingdom, the power and the glory are the Father’s, not of our antagonist’s, who is subject to him to whom Christ will hand over the kingdom after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power (1 Corinthians 15:24). It makes the prayer end as well as begin with the vision of God in heaven, in the majesty of his name and kingdom and the perfection of his will and purpose.

Origin

The doxology is not included in Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, nor is it present in the earliest manuscripts (papyrus or parchment) of Matthew, representative of the Alexandrian text, although it is present in the manuscripts representative of the later Byzantine text. Most scholars do not consider it part of the original text of Matthew. The Codex Washingtonensis, which adds a doxology (in the familiar text), is of the early fifth or late fourth century.New translations generally omit it except as a footnote.

The Didache, generally considered a first-century text, has a doxology, “for yours is the power and the glory forever”, as a conclusion for the Lord’s Prayer (Didache, 8:2). C. Clifton Black, although regarding the Didache as an “early second century” text, nevertheless considers the doxology it contains to be the “earliest additional ending we can trace”. Of a longer version, Black observes: “Its earliest appearance may have been in Tatian’s Diatessaron, a second-century harmony of the four Gospels”. The first three editions of the UBS text cited the Diatessaron for inclusion of the familiar doxology in Matthew 6:13, but in the later editions it cites the Diatessaron for excluding it. The Apostolic Constitutions added “the kingdom” to the beginning of the formula in the Didache, thus establishing the now familiar doxology.

Varied liturgical use

In the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite, the priest sings, after the last line of the prayer, the doxology, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.”

Adding a doxology to the Our Father is not part of the liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite nor does the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome contain the doxology that appears in late Greek manuscripts. However, it is recited since 1970 in the Roman Rite Order of Mass, not as part of the Lord’s Prayer but separately as a response acclamation after the embolism developing the seventh petition in the perspective of the Final Coming of Christ.

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer sometimes gives the Lord’s Prayer with the doxology, sometimes without.

Most Protestants append it to the Lord’s Prayer.

Use as a language comparison tool

In the course of Christianization, one of the first texts to be translated between many languages has historically been the Lord’s Prayer, long before the full Bible would be translated into the respective languages. Since the 16th century, collections of translations of the prayer have often been used for a quick comparison of languages.

The first such collection, with 22 versions, was Mithridates, de differentiis linguarum by Conrad Gessner (1555; the title refers to Mithridates VI of Pontus who according to Pliny the Elder was an exceptional polyglot).

Gessner’s idea of collecting translations of the prayer was taken up by authors of the 17th century, including Hieronymus Megiserus (1603) and Georg Pistorius (1621). Thomas Lüdeken in 1680 published an enlarged collection of 83 versions of the prayer, of which three were in fictional philosophical languages. Lüdeken quotes as a Barnum Hagius as his source for the exotic scripts used, while their true (anonymous) author was Andreas Müller. In 1700, Lüdeken’s collection was re-edited by B. Mottus as Oratio dominica plus centum linguis versionibus aut characteribus reddita et expressa. This edition was comparatively inferior, but a second, revised edition was published in 1715 by John Chamberlain. This 1715 edition was used by Gottfried Hensel in his Synopsis Universae Philologiae (1741) to compile “geographico-polyglot maps” where the beginning of the prayer was shown in the geographical area where the respective languages were spoken. Johann Ulrich Kraus also published a collection with more than 100 entries.

These collections continued to be improved and expanded well into the 19th century; Johann Christoph Adelung and Johann Severin Vater in 1806–1817 published the prayer in “well-nigh five hundred languages and dialects”.

Samples of scripture, including the Lord’s Prayer, were published in 52 oriental languages, most of them not previously found in such collections, translated by the brethren of the Serampore Mission and printed at the mission press there in 1818.

Comparisons with other prayer traditions

The book The Comprehensive New Testament, by T.E. Clontz and J. Clontz, points to similarities between elements of the Lord’s Prayer and expressions in writings of other religions as diverse as the Dhammapada, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Golden Verses, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It mentions in particular parallels in 1 Chronicles 29:10–18.

Rabbi Aron Mendes Chumaceiro says that nearly all the elements of the prayer have counterparts in the Jewish Bible and Deuterocanonical books: the first part in Isaiah 63:15–16 (“Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation … for you are our Father …”) and Ezekiel 36:23 (“I will vindicate the holiness of my great name …”) and Ezekiel 38:23 (“I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations …”), the second part in Obadiah 1:21 (“Saviours shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s”) and 1 Samuel 3:18 (“… It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”), the third part in Proverbs 30:8 (“… feed me with my apportioned bread…”), the fourth part in Sirach 28:2 (“Forgive your neighbour the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.”). “Deliver us from evil” can be compared with Psalm 119:133 (“… let no iniquity get dominion over me.”).
Chumaceiro says that, because the idea of God leading a human into temptation contradicts the righteousness and love of God, “Lead us not into temptation” has no counterpart in the Jewish Bible/Christian Old Testament. However, the word “πειρασμός”, which is translated as “temptation”, can also be translated as “test” or “trial”, making evident the attitude of someone’s heart, and in the Old Testament God tested Abraham (Genesis 22:1), and told David, “Go, number Israel and Judah,” an action that David later acknowledged as sin (2 Samuel 24:1–10; see also 1 Chronicles 21:1–7); and the testing of Job in the Book of Job.

Reuben Bredenhof says that the various petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, as well as the doxology attached to it, have a conceptual and thematic background in the Old Testament Book of Psalms.
On the other hand, Andrew Wommack says that the Lord’s Prayer “technically speaking […] isn’t even a true New Testament prayer”.

In post-biblical Jewish prayer, especially Kiddushin 81a (Babylonian). “Our Father which art in heaven” (אבינו שבשמים, Avinu shebashamayim) is the beginning of many Hebrew prayers. “Hallowed be thy name” is reflected in the Kaddish. “Lead us not into sin” is echoed in the “morning blessings” of Jewish prayer. A blessing said by some Jewish communities after the evening Shema includes a phrase quite similar to the opening of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our God in heaven, hallow thy name, and establish thy kingdom forever, and rule over us for ever and ever. Amen.”

Musical settings

In modern times, various composers have incorporated The Lord’s Prayer into a musical setting for utilization during liturgical services for a variety of religious traditions as well as interfaith ceremonies. Included among them are:

  • 9th–10th century: Gregorian chant
  • 1878: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Otche Nash (Отче наш; Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, op. 41)
  • 1883: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Otche Nash
  • 1906: Leoš Janáček – Otče náš
  • 1919: Emil von Reznicek – “Vater Unser im Himmel” (A Choral Fantasy with Mixed Chorus and Organ)
  • 1910: Sergei Rachmaninoff – Otche Nash (Отче наш; Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, op. 31)
  • 1926: Igor Stravinsky – Otche Nash (1926), arr. Pater Noster (Latin, some time later)
  • 1935: Albert Hay Malotte – “The Lord’s Prayer”
  • 1973: Arnold Strals – “The Lord’s Prayer” (performed by Sister Janet Mead)
  • Notre Père, motet in French by Maurice Duruflé
  • 1985: Clive Strutt – XIII Paternoster in the Festal Eucharist in honour of Saint Olaf, King and Martyr
  • 1992: John Serry Sr. – The Lord’s Prayer for Organ & Chorus
  • 1999: Paul Field and Stephen Deal – “The Millennium Prayer” (performed by Cliff Richard)
  • 2000: John Tavener – “The Lord’s Prayer”
  • 2004: Lisa Gerrard – Abwoon (in Aramaic)
  • 2005: Christopher Tin – “Baba Yetu” (in Swahili; performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir)
  • 2014: Behemoth (band) – Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer (Doxology used as chorus lyrics)
  • 2018: Hillsong Worship – “The Lord’s Prayer”

In popular culture

As with other prayers, the Lord’s Prayer was used by cooks to time their recipes before the spread of clocks. For example, a step could be “simmer the broth for three Lord’s Prayers”.

American songwriter and arranger Brian Wilson set the text of the Lord’s Prayer to an elaborate close-harmony arrangement loosely based on Malotte’s melody. Wilson’s group, The Beach Boys, would return to the piece several times throughout their recording career, most notably as the B-side to their 1964 single “Little Saint Nick.”

The band Yazoo used the prayer interspersed with the lyrics of “In My Room” on the album Upstairs at Eric’s.

The 2005 game Civilization IV uses a Swahili-language version of the prayer as its main theme: “Baba Yetu”.

Sources

  • Clark, D. The Lord’s Prayer. Origins and Early Interpretations (Studia Traditionis Theologiae, 21) Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2016, ISBN 978-2-503-56537-8
  • Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. “Matthew.” The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1971.
  • Augsburger, Myron. Matthew. Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1982.
  • Barclay, William. The Gospel of Matthew: Volume 1 Chapters 1–10. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1975.
  • Beare, Francis Wright. The Gospel According to Matthew. Oxford: B. Blackwell, 1981.
  • Black, C. Clifton (2018). The Lord’s Prayer. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN978-1-6116489-3-5.
  • Brown, Raymond EThe Pater Noster as an Eschatological Prayer, article in Theological Studies (1961) Vol. 22, pp. 175–208: from the website of Marquette University; also reprinted in New Testament Essays (1965)
  • Clontz, T.E.; Clontz, Jerry (2008). The Comprehensive New Testament with complete textual variant mapping and references for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, Nag Hammadi Library, Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, Plato, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Talmud, Old Testament, Patristic Writings, Dhammapada, Tacitus, Epic of Gilgamesh. Cornerstone. ISBN978-0-9778737-1-5.
  • Filson, Floyd V. A Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew. London: A. & C. Black, 1960.
  • Fowler, Harold. The Gospel of Matthew: Volume One. Joplin: College Press, 1968
  • France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  • Hendriksen, WilliamThe Gospel of Matthew. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976
  • Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  • “Lilies in the Field.” A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature. David Lyle Jeffrey, general editor. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
  • Lewis, Jack P. The Gospel According to Matthew. Austin, Texas: R.B. Sweet, 1976..
  • Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1–7: A Commentary. trans. Wilhlem C. Linss. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1989.
  • Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
  • Richardson, Cyril C., ed. (1953). “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Commonly Called the Didache”The Library of Christian Classics. Vol. 1 Early Christian Fathers. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  • Taylor, Richard A. (1994). The Peshiṭta of Daniel. Brill. ISBN978-9-0041014-8-7.
  • Schweizer, EduardThe Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  • Underhill, EvelynAbba. A meditation on the Lord’s Prayer (1940); reprint 2003.

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