Grammar in "Through Him, with Him, in Him"?

In the current liturgy, at the “per ipsum” we use the phrase “all glory and hono(u)r IS yours”. Is this correct grammar? Although I realise there may be a difference in verb form for abstract/non-countable nouns (like ‘glory’ and ‘honor’) I have yet to find a grammarian who can justify its use in this phrase. Should it not rather be “all glory and hono(u)r ARE yours”?
I’d be interested in any comments.

This is a translation from the Latin, where the word is “est,” the singular verb “is.” Latin occasionally takes a somewhat different view than English would about how to parse these things. Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar states, “If the [multiple] subjects [of a verb] . . . are considered as a single whole, the verb is usually singular.” A note says, “almost always when the subjects are abstract nouns.” That is what has happened here with “glory and honor.”

Thank you, Mark, for your helpful comment.

I’m familiar with the Latin usage in these cases, but my point is to do with what is the better English translation. Whilst it is, in my view (and indeed the view taken in the forthcoming New Liturgy) that we should make translations as faithful to the Latin original as possible, this doesn’t necessarily apply where the two languages have differing grammatical usages. For example, we wouldn’t dream of translating an ablative absolute into a false English approximation of that peculiarly Latin construction.

In English (not Latin), is it a better construction to use a plural verb for multiple subjects, even when they are uncountable abstracts?
For example, would we, on a fine summer’s day, say “Peace and joy are all around us” or “Peace and joy is all around us”?

English, by it’s nature, often cannot be constrained into rigid grammatical rules, but I just wonder if a plural verb might be better. The trouble is that familiarity (constantly hearing the priest say “all glory and honour IS” over several years) makes any alternative (even if more ‘correct’, sound wrong.
If you (or other readers) are interested in continuing this discussion, I can give you another good example of this “habituation to the incorrect” in further responses. But enough for this one!

Sorry about the awful “it’s” instead of “its” that slipped into my previous message.
Perhaps I should go to a basic English class!

I can not and do not want to address the English grammar, but as a theological concept related to God everything is singular. The plural would require division, partiality in each unit, which cannot be in God. (The Trinity is mystery what we cannot comprehend).

Also the subject (the Incarnated Second Divine Person) who is giving the fulness of glory and honor to God, and the action of giving is singular = unique.

Using the plural would put forward our partial, incomplete participation in this mystery, which is important, but not at this point. The Eucharistic Doxology is all abut Christ, we are just bystanders. We exhausted our possibilities by the offertory, and we come to the picture again with the preparation for the the communion, but in between we are insufficient nobodies.


“all…is yours” Father.we are addressing the Father singular.

Of course, I agree entirely about the indivisibility of God and about the inability of our language to make even the faintest approximation to His reality.

However, given this human deficiency, we still need to use our God-given language to the best of our abilities.

My question is not about the (agreed) theology, but about correct grammatical usage of our language.

With due respect, I do not think it can be valid to suggest that we can only use singular verbs about God. We have no hesitation in saying, for example, that there ARE three Persons in the Blessed Trinity. This is the reality of our limited language, not a false division of the Godhead.

I would entirely agree that, if you include a singular subject (as you have done in “the fullness of glory and honour to God”, then the verb should be the singular “is”… but this is your addition, not the liturgical text, which has two subjects (glory and honour).

It’s that “all” that makes it “is” rather than “are,” because the “all” there represents the singular totality of the “glory and honor.” I’d try to explain better but I’m on my way out the door!

In the 2011 grammar, you are correct, but the Mass wasn’t written in English, only translated into it, and we have to make the best of it under the circumstances. Strict grammatical rules in the receiving vernacular aren’t necessarily followed when translating, and a new idea shouldn’t be introduced just to be grammatically correct. Otherwise the underlying theology may be compromised.

Interestingly enough, it appears that Cranmer et al tried to circumvent the dilemma back in the 16th century with an “all honour and glory BE unto thee…” Personally I feel the subtle subjunctive was unjustified. Est is est, no be or may be or let be.

As an amateur grammarian, I understand why you would get hung up on that :).

The rule Mark mentioned about multiple subjects also holds in English, as in “I love to paint but my bread and butter is creating web designs.” where “bread and butter” is seen as a single whole. Perhaps at the time it was written the phrase “glory and honour” was seen as inseparable in that way.

Interestingly, all the priests (that I’ve heard) in my diocese do say “all glory and honour are yours”.

My point is that since this is theological mystery, and the (now official) translation is using singular related to this mystery (as it is in the Latin) we are not to speculate otherwise.

Interestingly related to the Holy Trinity the Symbolum Athanasium (Quicumque) is using many times ‘are not’ but only 1.5 times the ‘are’ helping verb

So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, There be [are] three Gods, or three Lords.

But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.

(this second is ‘sunt’ in Latin too).

I am grateful for the comments and opinions various writers have made. I think Fieldsparrow’s point (albeit made in haste) is probably best (again, I emphasise, from the grammatical, not theological, point of view. When the word “all” qualifies abstract, non-quanitfiable subjects, it usually takes a singular verb in English.

Here’s a different (and, I think, less obscure) point of grammar…

In an earlier posting, I wrote:-
The trouble is that familiarity (constantly hearing the priest say “all glory and honour IS” over several years) makes any alternative (even if more ‘correct’, sound wrong.
… I can give you another good example of this “habituation to the incorrect” in further responses.

This is the incorrect English that has come into many editions of the Litany of Loretto in the Holy Rosary in which “Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi” is given as “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.”

This is a vocative address to the Lamb and should be followed by a second person singular verb (“who take”), not third person (“who takes”). The incorrect “who takes” has probably crept in because we are so used to hearing the phrase in Holy Mass “This is the Lamb of God, who takes away…” in which instance, the third person “takes” is of course correct.

One can argue that the Latin “qui” can be translated as “you”, rather than as the relative “who”, (as it is in the Agnus Dei of the Mass itself - “Lamb of God, you take away…”), and this correctly uses the second person.

In earlier translations there existed the form “Lamb of God, that (or who) takest away…”. Takest is, of course, second person singular.

So, out with your Rosary guides and prayer books giving “Lamb of God, who takes away…” ! Or write to the publishers.

I think “you who” was also considered. Have to be careful here. Must understand in certain cultures (such as Polish) using the second person singular pronoun is either most intimate or very disrespectful. In modern English the second person can be ambiguous besides.

But it is the English translation I am considering, not other modern languages that make a distinction between familiar and polite forms of second person address.

I’m not quite sure what you mean about the second person being ambiguous in modern English.

My original point, however, was not about the various forms of second person respectfulness, but that a vocative prayer addressed to the Lamb of God cannot logically be followed by a verb in the third person as in the (mis)translation given in some versions of the Litany of Loreto (“Lamb of God, who takes (which should logically be take) away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.”

There are a couple of ways that this can be explained:

  1. There is an understood preposition in there in which case, the sentence would look like this:

All (of the) glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father

  1. In order to fit the meter (and I am sure someone who understands poetry, meter and all that stuff can correct me), the sentence was inverted. You see a lot of this in hymns. In which case the sentence would actually look like this:

Yours is all glory and honor, Almighty Father

The second explanation makes more sense. ICEL tried to change the syntax to fit the meter and in so doing, screwed up the grammar. (I will not take the full credit for this one. I discussed it with my mother, retired English teacher over lunch. And she was the one that came up with that explanation…that the translator was redoing the word order to fit the meter.)

I have an old 1950s St. Joseph’s Missal that has a translation side-by-side. This makes that theory more likely. The old St. Joseph’s Missal has it like this:

Through him, with him, in him
there is given to you, almighty
God and Father, in the unity of
the Holy Spirit, all honor
and glory for ever and ever. AMEN

The new translation strangely keeps the sentence structure of the current translation. So this kind of makes my first theory (the presence of the implied preposition “of” ) possible also.

[quote="fieldsparrow]It’s that “all” that makes it “is” rather than “are,” because the “all” there represents the singular totality of the “glory and honor.” I’d try to explain better but I’m on my way out the door!

I have to disagree here - I don’t think “all” has anything to do with it (I’ll explain that in a bit).

Depending on how the sentence is set up, “all” can be an adjective or a subject.
Subject (modified by prepositional phrase): “All of my exes is in Texas.”
Adjective (modifying the subject): “All my exes is in Texas.”
Or you could argue that the “of” is assumed, and that it’s still a subject in the second example. It doesn’t really matter, singular is obviously wrong - “All” is clearly plural, reflecting the noun “exes.”

Robert Aston argues that rules are different for abstract, non-quantifiable nouns, so let’s use a compound phrase that fits that description.
“All my hope and fear has melted away”? No.
“All my hope and fear have melted away.”
The compound subject makes it plural. If you’re not convinced, let’s expand our compound subject:
“All my hope and fear and itchiness and skill and derring-do and citizenship and contempt and intelligence has melted away.”
It’s obviously more appropriate to use the plural “have”.
It also doesn’t really matter whether the “all” is present or not.

seagal, however, has hit on a category where the singular would be appropriate, if the phrase is so conjoined that it is thought of as one, like bread and butter. The other examples I can think of like “peanut butter and jelly” all imply an unnamed singular noun, in this case sandwich. Getting back to the OP, one could argue that “glory and honor” is just such a conjoined phrase (my term) that it merits treatment as a singular. I would suggest a test is whether you could substitute “both” or “either” for “all”.

Yes, the glory and honor occur together, but unlike “bread and butter,” you can separate the two by adding adjectives to one and not the other, you can add a third noun to the list, etc, and so obviously you can also make a coherent sentence using “both” or “either” in place of “all”.

Therefore, both of us have sort-of come to the same conclusion…bad ICEL grammar is to blame. Why isn’t it repaired in the new edition? They did tinker with the rest of the language of the Doxology; however, they didn’t fix this travesty of grammar.

Personally, I find the grammar just fine. A little Latinate, but that’s hardly a problem. Est = is. I see nothing to fix.

“You” can be singular or plural. Granted, however, in this case it can refer only to the Lamb of God. But I still prefer the Latin; all Catholics should know it by heart, sing it at Mass, and enough with the translations.

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