Maggi's blog, here, carries some interesting thoughts about the role of those passages of Scripture, liturgy et al that we actually know by heart.....which sent me off on a roundabout track to consider how much our ideas (and specificially our theological ideas) are actually created by the words with which we express them. That may sound bizarre at first, and I do know the dangers of locating God within a particular form of service of type of language.After all, I'm a curate in the sort of traditional Anglican parish where, when we introduce the Lord's prayer with the words "As our Saviour taught us, so we pray..." a high proportion of the congregation assume that this means that Jesus did indeed instruct his disciples to pray in the English of 1611 ;-).
Nonetheless, I'm sure I'm not unique in finding that certain patterns of language effect me in a way that others, carrying the same meaning, do not...The Common Worship Evening Prayer includes an updated version of one of the familiar collects, retains the meaning exactly, but totally loses the effect...Why is this? Is it purely the resonance of countless Evensongs of my chorister past...or is there something inherently special about the words selected and arranged thus...Some words, I'm sure, are themselves Sacraments...they achieve what they symbolise or describe. For me, the final stanza of John Donne's "Hymne to God the Father", Here, does just that, and has done so ever since I read it in a train between Eastbourne and St Leonards on Sea, going home from school.to confront a new world, the day my father died. Whenever I read it, as I have so many times through the years, the same tangible certainty that all shall be well surrounds me once again, and I do indeed "feare no more".
I suspect this may be a glimpse of the blindingly obvious, and something others have considered long since....but, hey, I had fun cogitating anyway, and nobody forced you to read to the bitter end, did they??
PS If anyone felt moved to teach me how to do those links that would take you direct to a specific section of Maggi's blog (and indeed anyone else's)..., I'd be one up on the superteen Giles, and seriously, if not eternally, grateful!