God, the omnipotent! King Who ordainest

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Bran Stark

New Member
English - United States
I'm having trouble seeing how the first stanza of this old hymn is correct.

God, the omnipotent! King Who ordainest
Great winds Thy clarions, lightnings Thy sword;
Show forth Thy pity on high where Thou reignest,
Give to us peace in our time, O Lord.


As far as can tell, it would be "translated" into contemporary English as:

God, the omnipotent! King Who ordain
Great winds Your clarions, lightnings Your sword;
Show forth Your pity on high where You reign
Give to us peace in our time, O Lord.


Now changing "reignest" to "reign" makes perfect sense here. But if you do the same thing to "ordainest" - remove the "est" ending - you get "ordain". Maybe it would work out were it "King You ordain great winds Your clarions", but I just don't see how "who" could be right then.

Thanks!
 
Last edited:
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    You will want to follow modern conventions for verb endings rather than systematically swap one ending for another.

    So it's "King who ordains", and "where You reign".
     

    Bran Stark

    New Member
    English - United States
    I agree - I would do that if I was modernizing it. But I'm wondering how the original is correct.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The original is correct on the strength that lyricists of hymns or bawdy songs can write grammar with impunity which suits their needs.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree - I would do that if I was modernizing it. But I'm wondering how the original is correct.
    I don't think the original is correct. I think it should be King who ordaineth and where Thou reignest, though I am no expert on this.

    What you are interested in is Early Modern English, and in the conjugation of verbs in particular. There is an Wiki article on this. It includes a section the conjugation of verbs, and touches on the forms used with thou and he.

    We also have a related thread you may find interesting. In the process of the discussion they cover issues beyond the forms the verbs take:The thread also included links to more information.
     
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