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The Lord’s Prayer in Finnish – Isä Meidän – Herran Rukous

This article is all about the Lord’s Prayer in Finnish, which is called “Herran rukous“, but often referred to as “Isä meidän“. Thanks to Beth for requesting this topic!

While this is a prayer all Christians know, the exact wording of the Lord’s Prayer in Finnish can differ somewhat based on what version of the Bible is used and which Church you belong to. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the most popular religion in Finland. Their Lord’s Prayer is the main version I will be using in the explanations below.

Where needed, I will also add alternative phrases for the Orthodox and the Catholic versions. In English, there are even more versions. Check out the Wikipedia page about Isä meidän to see all three Finnish versions completely. Please don’t get upset if my English translation isn’t the one you’ve grown up with. We’re focusing on the Finnish version here.

1. The Words of the Lord’s Prayer in Finnish

One thing you should right away notice when reading this through is the length: the Finnish version’s word and sentences are much longer than in the English version.

Finnish words English words
Isä meidän, joka olet taivaissa Our Father, who art in heaven
Pyhitetty olkoon sinun nimesi Hallowed be thy name
Tulkoon sinun valtakuntasi Thy kingdom come
Tapahtukoon sinun tahtosi Thy will be done
Myös maan päällä niin kuin taivaassa On earth as it is in heaven
Anna meille tänä päivänä Give us this day
Meidän jokapäiväinen leipämme Our daily bread
Ja anna meille meidän syntimme anteeksi, And forgive us our sins
Niin kuin mekin anteeksi annamme niille As we forgive those
Jotka ovat meitä vastaan rikkoneet Who sin against us
Äläkä saata meitä kiusaukseen And lead us not into temptation
Vaan päästä meidät pahasta But deliver us from evil
Sillä sinun on valtakunta For thine is the kingdom,
ja voima ja kunnia and the power, and the glory,
iankaikkisesti. for ever and ever.
Aamen. Amen.

2. Glossary of abbreviations used

The following grammar terms have been abbreviated.

  • sg2: second person singular
  • pl1: first person plural
  • pl3: third person plural

I have marked different elements of the analysis using the following symbols.

  • in italics: base word
  • (in brackets): translation
  • ‘in single quotation marks’: literal meaning
  • “in double quotation marks”: intended meaning
  • [square brackets]: saying, idiom, fixed phrase; rection

3. Analysis of the Finnish Lord’s Prayer

Isä meidän, joka olet taivaissa
Isä father
meidän our, “of ours”
joka who, joka-pronoun
olet olla (to be), sg2 present tense, ‘you are’ > “art”
taivaissa taivas (heaven), plural -ssa “in the heavens”
Literally: Father of ours, who art in the heavens
English: Our Father, who art in heaven

The Finnish version of the Lord’s Prayer contains less archaic language than the English version. In it, God is addressed in the sinä-person (“sinä olet“) rather than the ultrapolite te (“te olette“).

The words “Isä meidän” are in reversed word order from normal language. This corresponds closer to “Father of ours” than “our Father”.

The word taivas can mean both “sky” and “heaven”. The difference becomes apparent when we want to express that something is in the sky versus in heaven. The sky will get -lla, while heaven gets -ssa: Lentokone on taivaalla vs. Jumala on taivaassa. In this prayer, the plural form of taivaassa is used: taivaissa.

Pyhitetty olkoon sinun nimesi
pyhitetty pyhittää (to sanctify), TU-participle ‘sanctified’ > “hallowed”
olkoon olla (to be), third person imperative (jussiivi) “let it be”
sinun your
nimesi nimi (name) + sg2 possessive suffix -si
Literally: Let your name be sanctified
English: Hallowed be thy name

The third person imperative ends in -koon/köön, and is very rare in everyday Finnish, but appears in multiple parts of this prayer. It can be translated as “let […] be done”. In this sentence, “olkoon pyhitetty” means “let […] be sanctified”, with the dots of course being “thy name”.

Tulkoon sinun valtakuntasi
Tulkoon tulla (to come), third person imperative (jussiivi) “let it come”
sinun your
valtakuntasi valtakunta (kingdom) + sg2 possessive suffix -si
Literally: Let your kingdom come
English: Thy kingdom come

Just like in the previous section, Finnish uses the third person imperative -koon/köön in order to express “let [your kingdom] come”.

Tapahtukoon sinun tahtosi
Tapahtukoon tapahtua (to happen), third person imperative (jussiivi) “let it happen”
sinun your
tahtosi tahto (will) + sg2 possessive suffix -si
Literally: Let your will happen
English: Thy will be done

And another third person imperative.

Myös maan päällä niin kuin taivaassa
Myös also
maan maa (earth, ground), genitive case because of päällä
päällä on, postposition: [genitive + päällä]
niin kuin just as
taivaassa taivas (heaven), inessive case “in heaven”
Literally: Also on earth just as in heaven
English: On earth as it is in heaven

The word päällä means “on” or “on top”. It’s a postposition, which means that the word it relates to will appear in front of it and be inflected in the genitive case: maan päällä. This is the opposite word order from English; literally “earth on” rather than “on earth”.

In this section, we use the singular form taivaassa rather than the plural form taivaissa like in the first line of the prayer. The two can be used interchangeably.

Anna meille tänä päivänä
Anna antaa (to give), sg2 imperative “give!”
meille me (us), kenelle? “to us”
tänä tämä (this), the essive case because of päivänä, “on this”
päivänä päivä (day), the essive case “on (this) day”
Literally: Give to us on this day
English: Give us this day

Tämä päivä” becomes “ päivä” when you want to say “on this day”.

Meidän jokapäiväinen leipämme
Meidän me (we), genitive case “our”
jokapäiväinen everyday, daily (adjective)
leipämme leipä (bread) + pl1 possessive suffix -mme “our bread”
Literally: Our daily bread
English: Our daily bread

The words “joka päivä” mean “every day”. For example, the sentence “Syön joka päivä leipää” means “I eat bread every day”. The adjective jokapäiväinen has been created out of those words: our everyday bread.

The next few lines are so much shorter in English than in Finnish! The English verse “and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” contains 16 syllables. The Finnish verse contains a mind-blowing 36 syllables:

“Ja anna meille meidän syntimme anteeksi,
niin kuin mekin anteeksi annamme niille,
jotka ovat meitä vastaan rikkoneet.”

Note that these are the words in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s (ELC) prayer! In the Orthodox (OC) and Catholic (RCC) version of the Lord’s prayer, you have this verse instead:

“Ja anna meille anteeksi velkamme,
niin kuin mekin annamme anteeksi
velallisillemme.”

ELC: Ja anna meille meidän syntimme anteeksi
OC, RCC: Ja anna meille anteeksi velkamme
Ja and (conjunction)
anna antaa (to give), sg2 imperative “give!”
meille me (we), allative case “to us”
meidän me (we), genitive case “our”
syntimme
velkamme
synti (sin), T-plural + pl1 possessive suffix -mme “our sins”
velka (debt), T-plural + pl1 possessive suffix -mme “our debts”
anteeksi sorry, pardon, forgiveness
English: And forgive us our sins

In Finnish you usually uses the phrase “antaa anteeksi” to say “to forgive”. There is also the verb armahtaa, but it’s used less often. In religion, however, armahtaa is a pretty common verb, which appears in phrases such as “Herra, armahda meitä!” ie. “Lord have mercy on us!”. In the Lord’s Prayer, however, the phrase “antaa anteeksi” is used instead.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s (ELC) prayer uses the word synti, which means “sin”. In the Orthodox (OC) and Catholic (RCC) version of the Lord’s prayer, you will find the word velka instead. In modern Finnish, velka means “debt”, usually the financial kind.

If you want to use all the Finnish words in the translation of “Ja anna meille meidän syntimme anteeksi“, you end up with something like: “and give to us our sins forgiveness”.

ELC: Niin kuin mekin anteeksi annamme niille
OC, RCC: Niin kuin mekin annamme anteeksi velallisillemme
Niin kuin just like
mekin me (we) + -kin “too, as well”
anteeksi sorry, pardon
annamme antaa (to give), pl1 present tense “we give”
niille ne (they), allative case “to those”
Finnish: Just like we also forgive those
English: As we forgive those

When translated literally, “niin kuin mekin anteeksi annamme niille” means “Just like we as well forgiveness give to those”. Some bible versions have a phrase that’s closer to the Finnish sentence. For example, the King James Bible starts this phrase with “For we also forgive…”.

Jotka ovat meitä vastaan rikkoneet
Jotka joka (who), relative pronoun, in the T-plural
ovat olla (to be), pl3, part of the perfect tense: [ovat rikkoneet]
meitä me (we), in the partitive case because of vastaan “against us”
vastaan against, postposition: [partitive + vastaan]
rikkoneet rikkoa (to break, breach), part of the perfect tense: [ovat rikkoneet]
Finnish: Who have sinned against us
English: Who sin against us

This sentence is only used in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s (ELC) Lord’s Prayer. An easier to understand word order would probably be: “Jotka ovat rikkoneet meitä vastaan“.

Rikkoa is an unusual word choice, because usually it means “to break”, either concrete (rikkoa ikkuna “to break the window”) or abstract (rikkoa laki “to break the law”). I would say this phrasing is closer to the Contemporary English Version of the Bible’s “who has done wrong to us”.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELC) uses the long phrase “Niin kuin mekin anteeksi annamme niille, jotka ovat meitä vastaan rikkoneet“. The Orthodox and Catholic prayers have a much shorter phrase. They replace that whole last sentence with a single word: “Niin kuin mekin annamme anteeksi velallisillemme.” This is the word velallinen (noun: debtor) in the plural allative case velallisille, with the first person plural possessive suffix -mme: “to our debtors. The use of velka in this verse is mirrored in, for example, the King James Bible: “forgive every one that is indebted to us”.

Äläkä saata meitä kiusaukseen
Äläkä älä (don’t), with the suffix -kä, which makes the meaning “and don’t”
saata saattaa (to lead, escort, accompany), negative sg2 imperative “don’t lead”
meitä me (we), in the partitive case because object of negative sentence, “us”
kiusaukseen kiusaus (temptation), the illative case “into temptation”
English: And lead us not into temptation

“Älä saata meitä kiusaukseen” means “don’t lead us into temptation”. When we want to add “and” at the beginning of the phrase, we don’t use ja, but rather the suffix -ka/-kä added to the end of the negative verb älä. This is the same concept as “ja ei” becoming eikä and “ja emme” becomes emmekä.

Vaan päästä meidät pahasta.
Vaan but rather
päästä päästää (to release, let go), sg2 imperative “release us”
meidät me (we), in the accusative case because total object of päästää
pahasta paha (evil, bad), the elative case “from evil”
English: But deliver us from evil.

The word “but” is usually mutta in Finnish. However, when our sentence starts with a negative (älä), we use vaan rather than mutta. We can translate vaan as “but rather”. You can read more about the difference between vaan and mutta in this article.

The word paha is interesting from a linguistic perspective. In Finnish paha can be both an adjective and a noun, so it can be both translated like in the King James Bible as “but deliver us from evil” and like in the New King James Bible as “but deliver us from the evil one“.

ELC: Sillä sinun on valtakunta
OC: Sillä sinun, Isä, Poika ja Pyhä Henki on valtakunta
Sillä because, for
sinun sinä (you), in the genitive case “yours”
on olla (to be), sg3 present tense “is”
valtakunta kingdom
English: For thine is the kingdom

This particular phrase differs between the three main versions on the Finnish prayer.

Firstly, the Finnish Catholic prayer doesn’t include this phrase at all. Secondly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s (ELC) prayer has the short version, similar to the King James Bible in English: “Sillä sinun on valtakunta“.

The Finnish Orthodox prayer contains “Sillä sinun, Isä, Poika ja Pyhä Henki, on valtakunta“, which includes the words Isä (Father), Poika (Son) and Pyhä Henki (Holy Spirit).

ELC: ja voima ja kunnia iankaikkisesti. Aamen.
OC: voima ja kunnia, nyt, aina ja iankaikkisesti,
ja and
voima power
ja and
kunnia honor, glory
iankaikkisesti forever, eternally
Aamen Amen
English: and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The phrase analyzed above is from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s (ELC) prayer. The Finnish Orthodox prayer ends this verse with: “Sillä sinun, Isä, Poika ja Pyhä Henki, on valtakunta, voima ja kunnia, nyt, aina ja iankaikkisesti,” ie. “now, always and forever”. The Catholic’s prayer doesn’t contain this phrase at all.

 

So there you have it: the Lord’s Prayer in Finnish. I hope you found this helpful!

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