Sunday, July 08, 2007

Te Deum

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur...

It is one of the earliest hymns of praise in Christendom. Tradition has held that Saints Ambrose and Augustine composed it, on the occasion of Augustine's baptism in AD 387 by Ambrose. It was more likely the work of a contemporary, Saint Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana.

Te Deum laudámus:
te Dóminum confitémur.
Te aetérnum Patrem,
omnis terra venerátur.

Tibi omnes ángeli,
tibi caeli
et univérsae potestátes:
tibi chérubim et séraphim
incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
maiestátis glóriae tuae....

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 Cherubim and Seraphim
Proclaim with unceasing voice:
"Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full
of the majesty of Thy glory..."

Inspired by the words of the Apostles Creed, the hymn expands upon this declaration of faith, and describes a vision of the heavenly liturgy. It is this perfect sacrifice of praise, of which the Holy Mass, in all its splendor, is only a foretaste.

Te gloriósus
apostolòrum chorus,
te prophetárum
laudábilis númerus,
te mártyrum candidátus
laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum
sancta confitétur Ecclésia,
Patrem imménsae maiestátis;
venerándum tuum verum
et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque
Paráclitum Spíritum.

Tu rex glóriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Filius.

Tu, ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem,
non horrúisti Virginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo,
aperuísti credéntibus regna caelórum.

Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes,
in glória Patris.
Iudex créderis esse ventúrus.

Te ergo quáesumus,
tuis fámulis súbveni,
quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.

Aetérna fac cum sanctis tuis
in glória numerári...

The glorious chorus of Apostles,
The admirable company of Prophets,
The army of Martyrs clothed in white,
The holy Church throughout all the world,
Doth acknowledge Thee,
The Father of infinite majesty,
Thine honourable, true, and only Son,
And also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

Thou, in undertaking the freeing of man,
Didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
Thou, having overcome the sting of death,
Didst open to believers the kingdom of heaven.

Thou sittest at the right hand of God
In the glory of the God the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.

We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants,
Whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints
In eternal glory...

As it describes the scene in heaven, so also its turns its attention below, to the Incarnation -- the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, culminating in His ascension into glory. Those who sing its praises call upon that glory, even as they implore His mercy.

Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine,
et bénedic hereditáti tuae.
Et rege eos, et extólle illos
usque in aetérnum.

Per síngulos dies benedícimus te;
et laudámus nomen tuum
in sáeculum, et in sáeculum sáeculi.

Dignáre, Dómine,
die isto sine peccáto nos custodíre.
Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri.

Fiat misericórdia tua,
Dómine, super nos,
quemádmodum sperávimus in te.
In te, Dómine, sperávi:
non confúndar in aetérnum.

O Lord, save Thy people,
and bless Thine inheritance.
Rule over them, and lift them up for ever.

Day by day we bless Thee
And we worship Thy Name
On earth and in heaven.

Find it fitting, O Lord,
to guard us without sin on that day.
O Lord, have mercy upon us,
have mercy upon us.

O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us
Who have hoped in thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I hoped;
May I never be confounded.

And so it was, in many Catholic parishes today, where this song of thanksgiving was sung. There are unfounded fears within the Catholic intelligensia, of "turning the clock back," as if the singing of a hymn in an arcane language would have the power to alter time and space. There are many questions of how the future of Catholic worship, and the preservation of tradition, will take shape. It is beyond human ability to predict the future, yet the questions remain.

The only way to answer, is that one has to start somewhere.

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

If you want to enjoy the Te Deum, try the setting by Anton Bruckner.

Blows your head away...!