The Lord’s Prayer Mark and Helen Johnson (2011)

This article first appeared in the June 2015 issue of our parish magazine.

The Lord’s Prayer has to be amongst the best known texts in the world. Whether there was a  preference for the traditional or new version, chances are, you learned it at school – as do many, many UK children, even now. As practising Christians, we all say it at least weekly, and probably daily. But what does it actually mean? The lack of understanding of this beloved prayer was brought home to me a few years ago whilst teaching my first year 6 class about faith-based communication, or ‘prayer’, as it is also known.

I began by exploring the meaning of ‘worship’ – who did the children worship? Pop stars were named along with sporting heroes and other celebrities. How did they demonstrate their admiration of these people? Did they ever communicate with them, by letter, email, text or Tweet? What did they say? Did they ask for anything? Did they ever get an answer? I asked them to write a fan letter, beginning by saying how much they admired the chosen person, thanking them for the positive impact they have on so many lives, and finishing with a request of some sort. This went well, with some remarkably powerful letters produced.

We then thought about the sort of ‘fan letter’ people with religious faith might send to God. These letters were based on the same structure as the celebrity fan letters, but with an apology slotted in between admiration and saying thank you. Again, powerfully moving letters were written, which we slowly began referring to as prayers.

Of course you will recognise the structure of these prayers as ACTS: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication.

Finally, we ‘translated’ the Lord’s Prayer, not slavishly, word for word, but phrase by phrase into contemporary English. We then compared it to the structure of the letters (prayers) written in class, and it fitted.

The Lord’s Prayer has been set to quite a wide variety of music over the years (you can explore some of them here), most disastrously (in my opinion) Cliff Richard’s christmas ‘hit’ version set to “Auld Lang Syne”. In contrast, I really like the “Out of the Ark” version I found recently and taught to the Sunday School choir. Phrases are taken from the Prayer, set to a sympathetic tune, and explained in the next musical phrase. I wish I’d had access to it all those years ago when teaching about this in class. Here are the words to Mark and Helen Johnson’s setting of the Lord’s Prayer:

 

  • Chorus:
  • Our Father, who art in heaven,
  • Hallowed be Your name.
  • Our Father, who art in heaven,
  • May Your name be honoured and praised.
  • Your kingdom come, Your will be done,
  • On Earth as it is in heaven.
  • May who You are, Your life and power,
  • Invade our lives forever.
  • Chorus
  • Give us this day our daily bread
  • (The things we take for granted).
  • We look to You, our faithful God,
  • Creator and provider.
  • Chorus
  • Forgive us all our sinful ways
  • As we forgive each other.
  • We need Your mercy and Your grace
  • To give to one another.
  • Chorus
  • And lead us not into temptation,
  • Deliver us from evil.
  • For we believe You are God alone
  • And we are all Your people.
  • Chorus x 2

Amen.

 

Carol P


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