Dominus vobiscum (Latin: "The Lord be with you") is an ancient salutation and blessing traditionally used by the clergy in the Roman Catholic Mass and other liturgies, as well as liturgies of other Western Christian denominations.
The response is Et cum spiritu tuo, meaning "And with your spirit." Some English translations, such as the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, translate the response in the older form, "And with thy spirit." Eastern Orthodox churches also follow this usage, although the episcopal and presbyteral blessing are one and the same; in Greek, Εἰρήνη πᾶσι, eirene pasi, "peace to all." In the Roman Rite, this usage is only for the bishop, who says Pax vobiscum. The ICEL translation presently in use for Roman Catholic Masses in English has "And with your spirit."
Prior to Advent 2011, the Roman Catholic response in English-speaking countries was "And also with you." In 2001 the Holy See issued the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam concerning the use of vernacular languages in the Mass. The instruction requires that certain phrases, such as the response Et cum spiritu tuo, which "belong to the heritage of the whole or of a great part of the ancient Church, as well as others that have become part of the general human patrimony, are to be respected by a translation that is as literal as possible". Accordingly, the current translation of the Mass in English uses the response "And with your spirit" to reflect an accurate translation of the Latin.
Dominus vobiscum is never said by anyone who is not at least a deacon. If introducing a prayer, it is otherwise replaced with Domine, exaudi orationem meam with the response Et clamor meus ad te veniat ("O Lord, hear my prayer", "And let my cry come to thee", the opening verse of Psalm 101) or, if that invocation is said in any case, it is omitted.
This exchange is also said many times in the Lutheran Divine Service. Lutherans have experienced confusion in the translation of the response along with Roman Catholics. The previous translation was "And with thy spirit", however Lutherans changed the translation to "And also with you" in 1978 with the introduction of the Lutheran Book of Worship. The response in the Lutheran Service Book was changed to "And with your spirit" in 2006, changing from "thy" to "your". Evangelical Lutheran Worship retains the response, "And also with you."
The salutation is taken from the verses Ruth 2:4 and 2 Chronicles 15:2 in the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible. In Ruth, the phrase appears in the sentence, "Et ecce ipse veniebat de Bethlehem dixitque messoribus: 'Dominus vobiscum'. Qui responderunt ei: 'Benedicat tibi Dominus'." ("Boaz himself came from Bethlehem and said to the harvesters, 'The Lord be with you!' and they replied, 'The Lord bless you!'").
II Chronicles recounts that Azariah, filled with the spirit of God, said, "Audite me, Asa et omnis Iuda et Beniamin! Dominus vobiscum, quia fuistis cum eo. Si quaesieritis eum, invenietur a vobis; si autem dereliqueritis eum, derelinquet vos." ("Hear me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin! The LORD is with you when you are with him, and if you seek him he will be present to you; but if you abandon him, he will abandon you.")
The phrase additionally appears in Numbers 14:42: "Nolite ascendere: non enim est Dominus vobiscum: ne corruatis coram inimicis vestris." (Hebrew Ayn adonai b'qirb'chem) The expression in Hebrew means to be successful. It also occurs in 1 Samuel 17:37 where Saul tells David "Go and may the Lord be with you" (Lech va'adonai y'hiyeh im'cha).
- Liturgiam Authenticam (English tr.) ¶ 56.
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sample Text: Changes in the People's Parts.
- Book of Prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, London vol. 1, page 47.
- The Latin here is taken from the Nova Vulgata (source), and the English from the New American Bible (source).
- Source: Latin, English.
- The New American Bible translates the verse, "Do not go up, because the Lord is not in your midst; if you go, you will be beaten down before your enemies." (Source.)