You probably know the Dominus vobiscum from its common response: “And with your spirit.”
It’s usage in the liturgy most likely goes back to the earliest Apostolic days of the Church.
But where did this ancient greeting and blessing that is so ubiquitous in the Church today actually come from?
It’s taken from just two verses in the Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate:
“Soon, along came Boaz from Bethlehem and said to the harvesters, ‘The LORD be with you,’ and they replied, ‘The LORD bless you.'” – Ruth 2:4
“The LORD is with you when you are with him, and if you seek him he will be found; but if you abandon him, he will abandon you.” – 2 Chronicles 15:2
The phrase also appears twice elsewhere, but used in a different context.
“Do not go up, because the LORD is not in your midst; do not allow yourself to be struck down by your enemies.” – Numbers 14:42
“Saul answered David, ‘Go! the LORD will be with you.‘” – 1 Samuel 17:37
Usually, the Dominus vobiscum is said by at least a deacon. It’s response is also usually “and with your spirit,” but in the Eastern Catholic Churches is replied with the Sign of the Cross too.
“The phrase is pregnant with a deep religious significance; and therefore intensely expressive of the highest and holiest wishes. For is not the presence of the Lord — the Source of every good and the Author of every best gift — a certain pledge of Divine protection and a sure earnest of the possession of all spiritual peace and consolation? In the mouth, therefore, of the priest, who acts as the representative and delegate of the Church, in whose name and with whose authority he prays, this deprecatory formula is pre-eminently appropriate. Hence its frequent use in the public prayers of the Church’s liturgy.”
🙏 The Lord be with you!
Citation: Morrisroe, P. (1909). Dominus Vobiscum. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.