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Thread: amazing grace

  1. Nefertiti's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 383

    amazing grace

    Hi there.

    " He will my shield and portion be,
    As long as life endures."
    1. Is it the same as 'he will be my shield and portion'?
    2. What does 'portion' mean here? Is it a common usage?

    "I shall possess within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace."
    3. What does the quote mean? Is it a common usage?

    " We've no less days to sing God's praise
    Than when we've first begun."
    4. What does the quote mean? Is it a common usage?

    Thanks in advance.

    wretch (BAD PERSON) (from Cambridge)
    someone who is unpleasant or annoying:
    Who's trampled on my flowers? I bet it was those two little wretches who live next door.
    You wretch! You promised you'd give me a lift.

    toil NOUN:1. Something that binds, snares, or entangles one; an entrapment. Often used in the plural: caught in the toils of despair. (from American Heritage)

    snare n. (from Cambridge)
    a trick or situation which deceives you or involves you in some problem of which you are not aware:
    The legal system is full of snares for those who are not wary.

    T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. ---> It was Grace that .....
    'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far. ----> It is Grace that ......
    The Song
    Amazing Grace Lyrics
    Last edited by Nefertiti; 27-Nov-2007 at 09:56.

    • Join Date: Jun 2007
    • Posts: 556

    Re: amazing grace

    This is a very well-known and much-loved American Christian hymn, often sung at funerals, but at other gatherings as well, formal and informal. It is sung at services of every Christian denomination I know of, Catholic and Protestant both.

    1) Yes, "He will my shield and portion be" has the same meaning as "He will be my shield and portion." The former is a poetic (and archaic, I think) phrasing, used rhymically and to make the lines rhyme; you wouldn't speak this way.

    2) "Portion" here is in the sense of the singer's lot in life. The word is most commonly used now to refer to a serving of food, as in "a six-ounce portion of beef." I think the song's usage is uncommon now, except for someone speaking in an "old-fashioned" way for effect: "I suppose it's just my portion in life to wind up with lousy jobs and loser boyfriends," Cynthia complained to her best friend.

    3) "...within the veil..." I have never heard this verse before, but I believe it means in heaven, after death. When people die they are sometimes said to "pass beyond the veil." The metaphor is taken from the veil in the Temple at Jerusalem, which separated the holy area, where only the high priest could go, from the rest of the sanctuary.

    4) "No less days to sing God's praise then when we first begun." Well, it's not very grammatical--should be "when we began"---but this refers to our eternal life in heaven. After ten thousand years, there will literally be as much time left (an infinite amount) as when we first arrived. Mathematicians, please correct if this is wrong :)

    You don't seem to be asking about "wretch" in this posting, but in this hymn the word has the meaning of "a pitiable person." This word has shifted somewhat in meaning (and in usage; you don't hear it very often, at least not in AE) since the hymn was written. Some churches (Catholic, IIRC) subsitute the lyric "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound/ That saved and set me free..."

    [not a teacher]

  2. Nefertiti's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 383

    Re: amazing grace

    Hi there.

    First of all, thanks for your reply. But I have to say some of your answers are still quite confusing.

    re. 2. 'Portion' means a person's 'fate'.

    re. 3. You mentioned 'pass beyond the veil' meant a person's death. But, how come 'within the veil' means in heaven? I thought 'within the veil' meant people didn't die yet.

    re. 4. I don't think the line 'when we've first begun' grammatical wrong. It's present perfect tense. It is equilant to 'when we have first begun'. Also, sentence structure is 'no less ..... than ...' not 'no less ..... then....'

    I still not quite get the meaning of the verse. Please explain more. (Q4)

    Thanks again.

    • Join Date: Jun 2007
    • Posts: 556

    Re: amazing grace

    2) Portion means a person's share of something, or what is alloted to him. Nowadays it is usually used in connection with food, but in this sense it's the singer's "share" of what life has to offer. Does that make more sense?

    3) I've never actually heard the construction "within the veil," but the connection of "veil" with dying is so strong that I have to believe that this verse refers to the life eternal, which naturally will be nothing but joy and peace. The "veil" separates us from the next life and encloses paradise, just as it once enclosed the Holy of Holies in the temple (Numbers 18:7).

    Okay, I just googled the verse in question: the rest is

    "Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace."

    There you go. :)

    4) then vs. than - sorry, it was late here, that's a typo! Should be "than." I also missed the "we've," how embarrassing! So yes, "we've/we have begun" is grammatically correct. But I still think "when we've first begun" sounds wrong---present perfect would not be my choice here, since the writer is referring to an event in the past (when "we" arrived in heaven and started singing). However, "begun" does rhyme with "sun."

    Meaning of the verse: Okay, how's this---you get to heaven, they hand you a harp, and you start singing. :) How many days do you have left to sing? An infinite amount of days. You sing for ten thousand years. Now how many days do you have left to sing? An infinite amount of days...

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