The Lord Be With You

Have you ever wondered where we get the opening words before communion?

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Or in the current Catholic version:

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

I say “current” Catholic version because from 1970 to 2011, both English speaking Catholics and liturgical Protestants both said “and also with you.” The current Catholic version – “and with your spirit” – returns to the language used in the English Book of Common Prayer and other English texts until the 1970s. “And with your spirit” is actually a more literal translation of the text of the historic Latin Mass on which all the traditional English liturgies are based.

Dominus vobiscum.
Et cum spiritu tuo.

The usage dates back to the earliest liturgies of the church. So where did these words come from?

The opening is derived from a dialog in Ruth 2:4:

Just then Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you.” They answered, “The Lord bless you.”

The response, “And with your spirit” echoes the worlds of Paul in several places.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. – Galatians 6:18

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
– Philippians 4:23

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
– Philemon 25

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
– 2 Timothy 4:22

So then, the dialog is just a way for the celebrant and congregation to greet and bless each other using the language of the Bible.

 

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