Thy shall be done on earth

carki

New Member
español
Hello everybody.

I've heard so many times the Iron Maiden's song, Afraid to shoot strangers, and each time I listen to it comes the doubt: why does he say "thy shall be done on earth" instead of thy will be done on earth? I consulted several dictionaries to see if will and shall, as nouns, are synonyms. But such a relation is not shown.

So , that's my inquiry: are shall and will synonyms as nouns... or ever were?

Here a part of the lyrics:

God let us go now and finish what's to be done
Thy Kingdom Come
Thy shall be done... on earth
 
  • Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    The Lord's Prayer as I remember actually says:
    'Thy Kingdom come
    Thy Will be done'.

    So maybe as owlman says, the singer meant 'Thy will shall be done' or it's just a mistake using 'shall' instead of 'will'.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I don't know the Iron Maiden's style, but it seems possible to me that the substitution of shall for will is a deliberate play on the words.

    "Thy will be done" is a very familiar phrase even among people who are not religious, and it seems to me unlikely that it would be wrongly said by mistake.
     

    Welshie

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I also can't understand this. I don't believe it could be a mistake, but I am not sure what kind of wordplay it could be. As has been pointed out, "Thy Will shall be done" is not a formulation of the Lord's Prayer that I have ever heard. (It's not even the same thing, as "shall" is the future tense, whereas "be" here is a subjunctive).
     

    carki

    New Member
    español
    But, is there a archaic meaning of "shall" like "will" has it today, that is, as a noun?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    But, is there a archaic meaning of "shall" like "will" has it today, that is, as a noun?
    No, there isn't. If it is a play on words, I would think the humor is in the fact that shall and will can both be used as verbs and are sometimes interchangeable, but the substitution here makes no sense.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've just played it on YouTube - and heard "shall". I don't understand why: it's decidedly not a humorous song:confused:.

    Just a mistake, maybe?
     

    relic5.2

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    I looked it up on YouTube again... and heard "shall" in the album version, and "will" in the live version... Now I'm getting confused.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I happened across one live version, and the singer clearly sings "Thy shall be done". In another he clearly sings "thy will be done", as in the prayer. I wonder if someone pointed this out and they corrected it.

    I can imagine a writer playing with the words to the prayer to make it mean something else (which is commonly done), but "thy shall be done" doesn't actually mean anything (aside from being ungrammatical).
     
    Last edited:

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I just listened to it on a different site and, like Loob, heard "shall".

    It doesn't sound humorous or whimsical to me either.

    The complete lyrics I found include "shall". For instance, CLICK HERE.
    (I am not certain how much the complete lyrics help with this.)

    It is interpreted as an anti-war song sung from the point of view of a soldier who will be compelled to "shoot strangers" as the title says. Perhaps the line was written "Thy will shall be done" as Bevj suggests, with "shall" inserted into the traditional prayer, making it a statement about the future rather than a prayer or a wish. Then, in the singing, "will" was elided, either because the doubled "ll" sound was difficult to sing, or for metrical reasons.

    Added: I cross-posted with Mole.
     

    kitenok

    Senior Member
    When I was very young I was taught to recite the King James version of the Lord's Prayer long before I was taught anything about archaic subjunctive forms. Because of this, my 5-year-old brain parsed the sentence as: Thy will be done, with thy as the subject, will be as a future tense verb, and done as the copular complement of "thy," whatever "thy" referred to (thy commands, idea of what should happen, etc...).

    In this incorrect way of parsing of the sentence, "will be" and "shall be" are completely interchangeable. It would not surprise me if Iron Maiden is, like I was at the age of 5, not thinking a whit about what it means and how it means that, and assuming that "will be" is a future tense verb form that can be replaced with "shall be" with no change in meaning.

    On the other hand, maybe they have read the OED's entry for the noun "shall":

    1. An utterance of the word ‘shall’; a command, promise, or determination (such as is expressed by means of ‘shall’).
     
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