In a Catholic mass, this phrase is said:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

As a non-native English speaker, I find the use of should a bit odd. Notice the subjunctive is also used in other languages, for instance, Latin:

Dómine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanábitur ánima mea.

and Spanish:

Señor, no soy digno de que entres en mi casa, pero una palabra tuya bastará para sanarme

However, "should" sounds too strong for me. In Spanish (my native language), should is said as "deber" or "tener" (so "should enter" can be translated as "debas entrar"), which is much stronger that the term actually used in Spanish ("entres").

I imagine the use of "should" is correct, but I don't understand exactly why. To me, a softer "might" sounds better. Can anyone explain?


Deber is the predominant meaning of "should" today, but it is not the only meaning.

Like most modals it has an epistemic meaning (about our knowledge of the world) as well as a deontic one (about how the world ought to be).

The meaning here is indeed quite close to might.

Compare (slightly old-fashioned, but still common) expressions like "If you should see him ... ", and "I should think so". These express possibility, not necessity.

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