01 June 2003

The Te Deum

Certainly the greatest of the early Latin hymns is the Te Deum, the title of which comes from the first words of the hymn itself. It was once attributed to St. Ambrose of Milan and his young protégé, St. Augustine of Hippo, who together reputedly composed it quite spontaneously and antiphonally on the occasion of the latter's baptism. However, it is now generally thought to have originated with Nikitas of Remesiana in the 4th century. Here is a standard English translation for liturgical use:

The Te Deum

WE praise thee, O God,
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud:
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Churubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy Glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The Father, of an infinite Majesty;
Thine adorable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man,
thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the Glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee,
help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints in glory everlasting.

For a metrical version of the Te Deum which can be sung to any double common metre tune, click here.

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