Q — The prayer ‘Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit’ has been a prayer I’ve been saying all my life. However, I fail to understand the meaning of ‘and ever shall be world without end.’ I know this prayer has been around for many centuries, but I can’t find anyone who can tell me what this means.

A — First, a word about the possible origins of this prayer. It is often known as the “Lesser Doxology,” and of course it is a prayer of praise to the Blessed Trinity. It may have developed from Jewish blessings such as the one we find in Romans 16:27: “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.” Such praise-prayers must have been very common in early Christianity as it emerged out of the Jewish matrix.

Now to the problematic phrase “and ever shall be world without end.” On the surface these words may be confusing.

However, when we recognize that they are a translation from Latin this can be helpful. The Latin phrase is “in saecula saeculorum.” The Latin word saeculum means epoch, a long period of time. So essentially the phrase “and ever shall be world without end” means this: forever and ever. In modern English translations of the Liturgy of the Hours this phrase from the lesser doxology is often rendered as follows, “and will be forever.”

The praise that creation and humankind offer to God has been in place “in the beginning,” is in place “now,” and will be in place “forever and ever.”