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the Reverend
Posted: 12 October 2008 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I read in Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities that it should be “the Reverend Bacon” not “Reverend Bacon” because Reverend is not a title or a position, and since then I have noticed that in writing in the UK it is always “the Reverend” though I cannot say if this is true of spoken British English. Is “the Reverend” correctly termed an honorific?
In today’s Brit newspaper The Observer the American journalist Stryker McGuire refers to Barack Obama’s pastor as the Reverend Wright throughout but he quotes from an Obama speech: “The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society.”
It would sound odd I think to say “Hello, the Reverend Wright” so what is the correct usage? Is Wolfe or Obama right or are both uses permissible?
In the UK I have also come across “the Right Reverend X” which might confuse in Wright’s case.

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Posted: 12 October 2008 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Wikipedia has a useful entry on this.

The Reverend is a style used as a prefix to the names of many Christian clergy and ministers. It is correctly called a style rather than a title or form of address.

In English usage it is traditionally considered incorrect to drop the definite article, “The”, before “Reverend”. When the style is used within a sentence “The” begins with a lower-case letter. The common abbreviations for “The Reverend” are “The Rev”, “The Revd” and “The Rev’d”.

“The Reverend” is traditionally used with Christian names (or initials) and surname, such as “The Reverend John Smith” or “The Reverend J.F. Smith”. Use of the prefix with the surname alone ("The Reverend Smith") is considered a solecism in traditional usage (although “The Reverend Father Smith” or “The Reverend Mr Smith” are correct though somewhat old-fashioned uses). So also with the use of the prefix as a form of address.

In other words, one would never say, “Good morning, Reverend”, but “Good morning, Vicar”, or “Good morning, Pastor”, or whatever the title be

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Posted: 12 October 2008 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Sad to report, in my circles, the use of “Good morning, Reverend” is very regular.  So is, “Reverend Jim, I forgot to bring my bible to confirmation class.” I prefer, “Good morning, Pastor Jim” and some have picked up on it, but all the older folks use the former style.  I have the sense that in Reformed churches (Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, Christian Reformed and the like) the honorific “The Reverend” gets transferred into a form of address in oral venues and the article is dropped.  Lutherans in the main prefer “Pastor.”

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Posted: 12 October 2008 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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So it’s parallel to, say, “honorable”; we say “the Honorable So-and-so” but would never say “Good morning, Honorable.”

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Posted: 12 October 2008 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think the following sort of thing was once considered proper:

“I am pleased to introduce the Reverend John Smith. Mr. Smith is from Chicago. Good morning, Mr. Smith.”

But language “evolves”, and I think something like the following would be very ordinary even among older and relatively conservative persons now:

“I am pleased to introduce [the] Reverend John Smith. Reverend Smith is from Chicago. Good morning, Rev. Smith.”

I don’t know whether it has evolved quite this far yet:

“I am pleased to introduce [the] Honorable John Smith. Honorable Smith is from Chicago. Good morning, Hon. Smith.”

Maybe it has (anybody have an example?).

But probably there is room for further evolution: possible formal English of the future:

“I am pleased to introduce the talented John Smith. Talented Smith is from Chicago. Good morning, Tal. Smith.”

(^_^)

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Posted: 13 October 2008 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks for the edifying replies. I’d forgotten about the various schisms and attendant nomenclature. Father and Padre (which wiki redirects to Military Chaplain) would be others and I read of (the) Reverend Wright being referred to as a “pastor disaster” for Barack Obama.
The Talented D Wilson hits the spot! Let’s welcome Earl Scruggs among us. The Earl is a talented bluegrass banjo player and here’s Count Basie and Duke Ellington......not to mention Sister Rosetta Thorpe

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Posted: 13 October 2008 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Observer the American journalist Stryker McGuire refers to Barack Obama’s pastor as the Reverend Wright throughout but he quotes from an Obama speech: “The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society.”

Obama’s use is most common when using that title.  Wright’s church is out of the Congregational tradition which is comfortable with “reverend.”

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Posted: 13 October 2008 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Do you have the style ‘the Right Reverend’ for bishops (those traditions that have them) over there in Leftpondia? In the UK our MPs are referred to as ‘the Right Honourable [member]’ as well. (Which encourages some predictable jokes when they stray into corruption or adultery.)

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Posted: 14 October 2008 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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@Oecolampadius: The Reverend Wright’s church is the United Church of Christ, which was formed by a merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Church, so it’s in fact smack in the middle of the congregational tradition.

I just rereread your posting and realized that you may be using “out of the Congregational tradition” in a horse-breeding sense, rather than the exclusionary sense that I first read it as.

@Flynn999: Bishops in the (U.S.) Episcopal church are indeed called Right Reverend.

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Posted: 14 October 2008 04:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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flynn999 - 13 October 2008 01:45 PM

In the UK our MPs are referred to as ‘the Right Honourable [member]’

They’re only Right Honourable if they’re Privy Councillors; other MPs are merely Honourable (which still leaves ample space for satire).

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are also members of the Privy Council, so they are ‘Most Reverend and Right Honourable’.

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Posted: 14 October 2008 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I am no expert on the niceties of the order of precedence in the English aristocracy, but I do know that Mrs Snodgrass-Thorpe can be the Honourable Mrs Snodgrass-Thorpe simply by virtue of an accident of birth.

Precisely what it is that makes her honourable, I am unable to say, but it is something like being the younger sister of the heir to a peerage, or the eldest daughter of a baronet, that sort of thing…

I think, although I could be mistaken, that being an “Honourable” in this context, is about as far down the order of precedence as you can get before you become a plain Mister or Miss (or maybe even a “Ms” in these enlightened times)

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Posted: 15 October 2008 12:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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murrmac - 14 October 2008 01:20 PM

Precisely what it is that makes her honourable, I am unable to say, but it is something like being the younger sister of the heir to a peerage, or the eldest daughter of a baronet, that sort of thing…

Pretty close. Sons or daughters of Viscounts and Barons are Honourable. Younger (non-inheriting) sons of Earls are also Honourable. (Rather unfairly, daughters of Earls get Lady as their courtesy title.) Younger sons and daughters of Dukes and Marquesses get Lord or Lady.

I think, although I could be mistaken, that being an “Honourable” in this context, is about as far down the order of precedence as you can get before you become a plain Mister or Miss (or maybe even a “Ms” in these enlightened times)

Correct. I personally know three people who are entitled to put ‘Hon’ in front of their names; none actually bother.

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Posted: 15 October 2008 01:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I was at art college with the younger son of an earl and he didn’t use his honourable - everyone else thought it was a giggle though, and the poor lad was known as ‘Hon-John’ all the time he was there, much to his annoyance.

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Posted: 15 October 2008 08:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Curiously, even the children of life peers get to be called “the Honourable” once their ma or pa is made up ...

Which leads me to something I’ve been meaning to ask someone for a long time - I’ve seen usages such as “the Honorable Richard M Nixon, President of the United States” - what’s the deal there? Who gets to be called Honorable in Leftpondia?

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Posted: 15 October 2008 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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It certainly is a minefield, this stuff - lowly folk are briefed by minions on how to address the Queen before a meeting, for example. I like a lowly character in Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge who calls the mayor “Your Worshipful”. This could be from British, if not American, freemasonry where there are Worshipful Masters, etc. There’s a lot of archaic spoken legal nomenclature in the UK, too, such as M’Lud (My Lord) for what would be Judge in the States I believe.

Mondegreen: I heard Neil Diamond’s song Forever in Blue Jeans as The Reverend Blue Jeans, and the blues guitarist was Sister Rosetta Tharpe not Thorpe in my typo above.

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Posted: 15 October 2008 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Zythophile - 15 October 2008 08:47 AM

Who gets to be called Honorable in Leftpondia?

I suggest consulting wikipeda.

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