Friday, April 24, 2009
"[Truly/Indeed], He is risen!"
I got asked recently why I say "Truly, He is risen!" and not "Indeed, He is risen!" in response to "Christ is risen!" At our parish here in West Virginia, "Truly" is most often used, but there are a good number of "Indeeders" in the bunch. I don't rebuke any of them. (If only because I have heard a story of a first-time visitor at Pascha who once responded to the priest's "Christ is risen!" with "I KNOW. I KNOW. You haven't stopped saying it for the last three hours!") Mind you, I also don't rebuke the "He HAS risen" crowd, but I always feel a twinge every time I hear it. He IS risen. It's an ongoing reality, not an over-and-done-with one-time event.
Anyway, since someone asked last night why I say "Truly" and not "Indeed," I responded then and thought I would comment here, as well.
The original response comes from the Greek Alithos anesti! Alithos is the adverbial form of alitheia, which means, quite simply, "truth." The meaning is almost identical to the English word truth, both in the sense of universal truth and also in the sense of simple fact. It comes from a Greek word meaning "unconcealed," so a sense of being revelatory is also there.
So, it would seem clear that "truly" is truly and obviously better, because it includes the notion of truth in it. (For these reasons, I fall into the "truly" camp.) In most languages, the traditional translation of alithos is connected to that language's word for "truth." (Even voistinu and haqqan.)
Indeed, by contrast, would seem to many to be a synonym for truly, but it really isn't. Indeed in Modern English usage is primarily only ever an emphatic. It does not in itself make reference to the alitheia which truly does.
One thing Indeed has going for it is rhythm. It places the stress in the whole phrase on the second syllable. "Indeed, He is risen!" is a bit easier to say than "Truly, He is risen!" It's also a bit closer to the Greek meter. I will say, though, that the Truly formation makes the whole phrase trochaic (i.e., composed of two-syllable patterns with the stress on the first), which is a more authentically English thing to do. Anglo-Saxon poetry is a veritable smorgasbord of trochées, and English-speakers tend to experience trochées as "powerful." The initial greeting we all seem to agree upon ("Christ is risen!" or even the minority "Christ has risen!") is also entirely trochaic.
So, that's why I say "Truly." Christ is risen!