Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Lord's Prayer in Quenya

I can hear it now, "The Lord's Prayer in what?" Quenya. The Klingons have their own version; why not the elfs? That's right. Quenya is simply elvish for "language" and this was the tongue of the elfs of the second age and had been all but forgotten by the third age which primarily used Sindarin. If J.R.R. Tolkien couldn't think of an English word to adequately communicate his thoughts, he made one up, hence, Eucatastrophe. His passion and years of study in philology was sown into every word and chapter of his work. So when it came to the world that he sub-created (his word for it, not mine) he invented languages to fit the people in the lands born out of his imagination. This was necessary in his mind in order to give the story that "inner consistence" of reality, the marks of Primary Art. The elfs had many forms of their native language in addition to Quenya as did the other populations of Middle-Earth, i.e. the Dwarfs and so on.

In Tolkien's lands, languages and people we behold man's work of sub-creation, making in the image in which we are made. This vocation in action. Vocation in the art of storytelling and myth-making (in the best sense of that word). Our ears ring and our eyes behold the work of sub-creation anytime we hear good music and behold the painted canvas, whether its from the artists nimble hands or the Creator's. These gifts of sub-creation also point us to the Creator, to Primary Art and to the one great true story of all stories, the Creator made flesh in Christ. The gifts of joy, happiness, beauty - these are glimpses of that heavenly joy - what Lewis called holiness - that Christ himself came to guarantee. No wonder the words of literature - even those languages that are crafted from man's imagination - can serve as a witness to everlasting truth through beauty and the glory of the Everlasting Man who gave us these words. Lord, teach us to pray, in whatever tongue we speak. And open our lips, that our mouths might declare your praise, from the halls of Middle-Earth to our earthly homes, and one day soon the home of righteousness in the new heavens and the new earth.

This edition of the Lord's Prayer in elvish Quenya, courtesy of a good friend (and fellow Tolkien fan) on Facebook, Peggy Pederson.

Átaremma i ëa han ëa,
na aire esselya,
aranielya na tuluva,
na care indómelya
cemende tambe Erumande.
Ámen anta síra ilaurëa massamma,
ar ámen apsene úcaremmar
sív’ emme apsenet tien i úcarer emmen.
Álame tulya úsahtienna
mal áme etelehta ulcullo.

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