16 May The Lord’s Prayer in Middle English
We have already shared the Lord’s Prayer in Old English, so today we will follow that up with the Lord’s Prayer in Middle English. The Old English (Anglo Saxon) literary period began around the middle of the 7th century, and Middle English slowly developed from there, with the classic work Canterbury Tales (by Geoffrey Chaucer) being written in the 1390s.
A couple important things to note when comparing the two early forms of English is that during the Middle English period many Old English grammatical features were simplified or disappeared, while many Norman-French words were brought into the language, especially ones related to monarchy, politics, law, the arts, and religion.
The Our Father Prayer in Middle English
Oure fadir that art in heuenes,
Halewid be thi name;
Thi kyngdoom come to;
Be thi wille don, in erthe as in heuene.
Yyue to vs this dai oure breed ouer othir substaunce,
and foryyue to vs oure dettis, as we foryyuen to oure dettouris;
and lede vs not in to temptacioun, but delyuere vs fro yuel. Amen.
This version of the Lord’s Prayer in Middle English is from Wycliffe’s translation of the Holy Bible (1384), which was published around 227 years earlier than the King James Bible (1611). To compare versions, please go to: The Lord’s Prayer KJV.
The earliest English interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer that we’ve shared is that of John Bradford, who was burned at the stake by Mary Tudor (aka Bloody Mary). To read his commentary written while imprisoned in the London Tower, please go to: The Lord’s Prayer Explained by John Bradford.