Q. Átaremma i ëa han Eä “our Father who art in Heaven”

Q. Átaremma i ëa han Eä “our Father who art in Heaven”

Átaremma [Next Phrase >]

The first line of Átaremma, Tolkien’s Quenya translation of the Lord’s Prayer. The first word Átaremma “our Father” is atar¹ “father” with the 2nd-person-plural-exclusive suffix -mma² consistent with the 1st edition of The Lord of the Rings (after the 2nd edition of The Lord of the Rings, this suffix would be -lma¹).

The remainder of the phrase i ëa han “who art in Heaven” is a circumlocution, literally meaning “*who is beyond Creation [the Material Universe]”. This allowed Tolkien to avoid an explicit name for Heaven, though he did use Eruman for “Heaven” in the fifth line of the prayer.

Decomposition: Broken into its constituent elements, this phrase would be:

Átar-emma i ëa han Eä = “*Father-our who is beyond Creation [the Material Universe]”

Conceptual Development: The form Ataremma for “our Father” appears in all versions of the prayer, sometimes preceded by the interjection a or Ai “O”. Wynne, Smith and Hostetter suggested that the long Á of Átaremma in versions V to VI of the prayer may be a coalescense with this interjection (VT43/13).

In versions I-IV, Tolkien use menel for the word “Heaven” in various configurations, most involving an assimilated locative, such as meneldea “in Heaven”. In other writings, Tolkien said that menel referred to the dome of the sky or “the firmament”, and therefore was not proper for “Heaven” (MR/387, PE17/152). Perhaps because of this, in version V he switched to the circumlocution i ëa pell’ Eä, with an assimilated form of the preposition pella “before”. In version VI he changed the preposition to han, as above.

In the earliest version (I), Tolkien used the word na for “is”, added at the end of the phrase, but it was omitted later.

    I   IIa IIb III IV V VI
  A Ai  
Ataremma Átaremma
  i   i
{menellea >>} menelzea meneldea ëa pell’ ëa ëa han ëa

References ✧ VT43/8-12



atar¹ “father” 1st-pl-exclusive-poss ✧ VT43/13 (Ataremma); VT43/13 (Ataremma); VT43/13 (Ataremma); VT43/13 (Ataremma); VT43/13 (Ataremma); VT43/13 (Átaremma); VT43/13 (Átaremma)
“who, what, which, that” ✧ VT43/13; VT43/13; VT43/13; VT43/14
ëa- “to be, exist” aorist ✧ VT43/13; VT43/14
han “beyond” ✧ VT43/14
“Creation, the (Material) Universe, Cosmos, World; it is, let it be” ✧ VT43/13 (Ëa); VT43/14 (ëa)
menel “the heavens, firmament, sky” locative adjectival ✧ VT43/13 (menelessea); VT43/13; VT43/13 (menellea); VT43/13 (menelzea); VT43/13 (menelzea); VT43/13 (menelzea); VT43/13 (menelzea); VT43/13 (meneldea); VT43/13 (meneldea); VT43/13 (meneldea); VT43/13 (meneldea)
mi “in” ✧ VT43/13
ná- “to be” ✧ VT43/13 (na)
“O, Oh” ✧ VT43/13; VT43/13 (Ai)
pella “beyond (boundary or limit)” elided ✧ VT43/13 (pell’)

Element In