So help me.

Saoul

Senior Member
Italian
Ciao Everybody,

I had an argument with some friends of mine last night about some gospel lyrics. Here's how the lyrics were worded:

Now that I know that I've needed you,
So help me Jesus my soul's in Your hands.

Here's how I think they should be worded:

Now that I know that I've needed you so,
Help me Jesus my soul's in Your hands.

My point is that if a sentence begins with "Now" it can't be followed by a second sentence starting with "so".

Now that I have asked, so I feel better.
Now that you know how stubborn I am, so don't contradict me anymore.

Please don't look at them from a poetical point of view. Poetically speaking I really see how that "so" works, and they can write pretty much anything. Look at it like everyday English, and let me know if:

Both sentences make sense;
Only the first one does;
Only the second one does;
None of them do;
One on Mondays;
The other on Thursdays;

Thanks in advance for your help.
Saoul :)
 
  • TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    Dear Saoul,

    "so help me XX" is a set phrase meaning "may XX help me." So does not mean "therefore" in this context. Does that help? :)

    Elisabetta
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Elisabetta is right on!


    "So help me, I'll take away your luparo if you don't clean your room right now!"

    Variations are 'so help me God' and 'so help me Jesus', but sometimes the set phrase is used as in the
    sample sentence above, without a stated reference to a deity.
     

    Hockey13

    Senior Member
    AmEnglish/German
    Just as an extra resource for this phrase, there's a song from the 90s. The main riff goes:

    Make up your mind and I'll promise you
    I will treat you well,
    My sweet angel,
    So help me, Jesus.

    Here the singer is saying, by God he will treat her well, and nothing short of divine intervention will stop it. :)

    Song is: Possum Kingdom written by the Toadies off the album Rubberneck produced by Interscope Records in 1994.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Just as an extra resource for this phrase, there's a song from the 90s. The main riff goes:

    Make up your mind and I'll promise you
    I will treat you well,
    My sweet angel,
    So help me, Jesus.

    Here the singer is saying, by God he will treat her well, and nothing short of divine intervention will stop it. :)
    Actually, I'd characterize "so help me, Jesus" as calling on divine intervention to fulfill the promise, not saying that divine intervention is the only thing that will stop it. It's a form of oath, as in court: "I swear to the tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me, God." I agree with TrentinaNE on the meaning being "May Jesus help me."

    To me, "nothing sort of divine intervention will stop it" would be something like "Only Heaven can stop me now."
     

    Saoul

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thanks guys. I maybe didn't make myself clear. I absolutely agree that the original sentence is correct, no doubt about it.
    What I need to understand is: would the second make sense? In a normal speech, would you use "now that ___ whatever ____, so _______" kind of sentence, like the two I wrote in my previous post?
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    Saoul, the use of so in these two sentences
    Now that I have asked, so I feel better.
    Now that you know how stubborn I am, so don't contradict me anymore.
    is most definitely wrong. As written below
    Now that I have asked, so help me God, I feel better.
    Now that you know how stubborn I am, so help you God, don't contradict me anymore.
    they're tolerable. ;) But what you probably mean is:
    Now that I have asked, so I feel better.
    Now that you know how stubborn I am, so don't contradict me anymore.
    Elisabetta
     

    Hockey13

    Senior Member
    AmEnglish/German
    Actually, I'd characterize "so help me, Jesus" as calling on divine intervention to fulfill the promise, not saying that divine intervention is the only thing that will stop it. It's a form of oath, as in court: "I swear to the tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me, God." I agree with TrentinaNE on the meaning being "May Jesus help me."

    To me, "nothing sort of divine intervention will stop it" would be something like "Only Heaven can stop me now."
    I think it does mean "Only Heaven can stop me now." To me, by evoking the help of Jesus, the person is saying that he will do everything in his power to fulfill the promise he made and only the divine intervention of God, to help or not to help, can change that.

    That said, I'm not religious. ;)

    Cuchu: Thanks for removing the promotional remarks (sorry about that), but why take off the citation? Isn't it worse to use the band's lyrics and not say where it came from than what was originally posted? Thanks.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I think it does mean "Only Heaven can stop me now." To me, by evoking the help of Jesus, the person is saying that he will do everything in his power to fulfill the promise he made and only the divine intervention of God, to help or not to help, can change that.
    I don't understand that interpretation. So someone saying "...and nothing but the truth, so help me, God" is saying that he will do his best to tell the truth, but God may intervene and stop him from telling the truth? That doesn't make sense to me.

    The person calling on God for help to fulfill a promise is not looking at how God will thwart him. It's not logical to me.

    [edit]Maybe you're thinking of "God willing". "I swear to tell the whole truth, God willing" would have a very different meaning from "I swear to tell the whole truth, so help me, God". :)
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Cuchu: Thanks for removing the promotional remarks (sorry about that), but why take off the citation? Isn't it worse to use the band's lyrics and not say where it came from than what was originally posted? Thanks.
    Off-topic administrative aside: It didn't really have a citation, just the band's name.
    Feel free to edit it with a link or written statement of the lyric source: name of author (not necessarily the performer), publisher, date. Thanks for taking it in a friendly spirit.
     

    Hockey13

    Senior Member
    AmEnglish/German
    I don't understand that interpretation. So someone saying "...and nothing but the truth, so help me, God" is saying that he will do his best to tell the truth, but God may intervene and stop him from telling the truth? That doesn't make sense to me.

    The person calling on God for help to fulfill a promise is not looking at how God will thwart him. It's not logical to me.
    It's not a matter of thwarting him or not, it's a matter of helping him or not. It follows logically that if you are asking for the help of God, you may or may not receive it per God's choice. If he chooses not to help you, believers in Providence and destiny might tell you that it is a form of divine intervention in the sense that doing nothing is just as influential as doing something. Especially in the context of that song, he is not simply asking for Jesus's help, he is, with his yell, stating to God that he will treat her well no matter what, so if God chooses not to help him, that is the only reason he would ever not fulfull his promise.

    I don't have a problem with the other translations for "so help me, Jesus," but in the example I provided, it is more a screaming declaration that an invocation of God's help. In fact it is both, but I think "Only divine intervention can stop my fulfilling this promise to you," fits much better in this context.
     
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