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I am in a debate with my minister over the form of the verb following the relative pronoun "Who" in prayer.

Example--In last Sunday's bulletin one of the printed prayers began as follow:

"O God, Who loves us and created your kingdom in the hearts of believers . . ."

After worship, I told the minister that I thought the verb "loves" should have been "love."

He disagreed. I said, Well, in the Lord's Prayer we say, "Our Father who art in heaven," rather than "Our Father, Who is in heaven."

At one time George O. Curme's "A Grammar of the English Language" had solved this issue for me. Currently, however, I do not have access to that work.

It seems to me that in prayer the personal pronoun "You" could be substitued for the relative pronoun "Who," not that I would necessarily want to do that except in the case of checking the form of verb I intended to use. Am I correct in this assumption?

Can anyone settle this issue for me using as much detail as possible.
Comments  
In my grammar book, we use plural form of verb for God as a token of respectEmotion: smile.

eg. Don't be evil. God know itEmotion: smile
The answer to your specific query depends entirely on how many gods you believe there are. If you believe there's one, it's "[the] god who loves". If you believe there's more than one, it's "[the] gods who love". If you believe that the god concept is uncountable (like Zen) then it would be "god who loves". If you believe there is no god at all (sorry, but I had to include that possibility) then either "no god who loves" or "no gods who love" would be correct, since zero can be singular or plural depending on what you're trying to get across.

Just replace the word "god" with the word "accountant" or something, (or with "George" if you consider it to be a proper noun) and see if the sentence still works. The grammar doesn't change just because you're talking about religion.

May the force be with you
Rommie
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I put it that those who made up my grammar book are staunch supporters of a specific religion Emotion: stick out tongue.
O God, Who loves us and created your kingdom in the hearts of believers . . .


I confess to being curious. This entire phrase is a noun-of-address, that is, a reference to a person in vocative case, and yet the phrase contains a reflexive pronoun. I didn't realise you could do that.

I mean, if I happened to be talking to someone called Alice, and I happened to be requesting tea, it would be quite normal to say "Alice, put the the kettle on". Wheras, it would sound a little odd to my ears to say "Alice, who makes great tea, put the kettle on". It makes the sentence hard to parse. It's probably not wrong, but it seems an odd thing to do.

Does this kind of construction happen in other areas apart from religion?

Just wondering.
Rommie
You help make my point. When you say, "Alice, who makes great tea, put on the pot" you are saying something quite different from "Alice, who make great tea, put on the pot." You might not want to say either one, but the question is, if you chose to say one or the other, which one would be correct?

Who are you talking to when you say, "who makes great tea"? Certainly not to Alice. If however you say, "Alice, who make great tea," you're either talking to Alice or to yourself. In one case you are addressing Alice and saying something about her; in another you are addressing Alice and saying something about her not to Alice but to someone else.

It seems to me that an antecedent which is in the vocative, i.e. in the case of direct address, is felt as being in the second person. If the antecedent is the relative pronoun "who," then "who" is in the second person and as such would require that the verb form be "make" rather then "makes."

If the antecedent were a personal pronoun rather than a relative pronoun, the correct form is obvious. For instance, if you were to say, "Alice, you makes great tea, put on the pot," you would immediately know that you have used the wrong verb. If however you were to say, Alice, you make great tea, put on the pot," you would have said exactly what needs to be said.

I would love to hear everybody's comments on this one.
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You said:

When you say, [1] "Alice, who makes great tea, put on the pot" you are saying something quite different from [2] "Alice, who make great tea, put on the pot."

This is really hard to think about because vocative case is so rarely used for long phrases. Something like "You with the pink hair" is normally about as long as it gets, and even then, you'd only say that if you didn't know the person's name. If I wished to simultaneously address Alice whilst complementing her, I might word the sentence thus "Alice, the great teamaker, put the kettle on would you?". I would be unlikely to use "who" at all. But as you say, it's not about finding alternatives - that's just avoiding the question - it's about deciding which of [1] or [2] is correct.

I suspect, you who ask really difficult questions, that the answer has to be [2], otherwise this sentence wouldn't sound right.

The big difference between the sentence immediately above and our earlier examples is the comma. But I don't see how that could change the number of the verb.

My answer is just an educated guess.
Rommie
"God" here is a noun in direct address. It's in second person. "Who love[ ] us" is in apposition to it. The meaning of the sentence is "God, you who love us." Therefore, "God, who love us" seems correct to me. It's the same principle as "I, who am your teacher, say so."