22 June 2010

Te Deum Laudamus

Ancient tradition tells us that the early Christian creedal hymn, Te Deum Laudamus, originated spontaneously with Sts. Ambrose and Augustine at the latter's baptism near the end of the 4th century. It was more likely written in the early 5th century by Nikitas, bishop of Remesiana, whose feast day is today.

The Te Deum is sung in Latin below by the Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis of Milan, Italy. Anyone wishing to learn to read mediaeval musical notation, which is easier than one might think, will find it instructive to watch this.

Below the Concordia Oakland Choristers sing the Te Deum in English translation:

Many Christians will be aware of metrical versions of this hymn, the best known of which is probably Holy God, We Praise Thy Name, a translation of the German Großer Gott wir loben dich, written around 1774 by Ignaz Franz for the Ka­thol­isch­es Ge­sang­buch.

In 1696 Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady included a versification of the Te Deum for their "New Version" Psalter. Some years ago I adapted their three stanzas and added three of my own to complete the hymn: O God, we praise you, we confess that you alone are Lord. In whatever form it is sung, the Te Deum deserves to be better known and more widely used amongst English-speaking evangelical Christians.

Crossposted at First Things: Evangel

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