This famous church confession in song is similar in meaning to the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, only it is much more elaborate and solemn. It is very powerful and moving, especially when the organist knows which chords and instruments to utilize.
Te Deum Laudamus is a Latin hymn to God the Father and Christ the Son, traditionally sung on occasions of public rejoicing. According to legend, it was improvised antiphonally by St. Ambrose and St. Augustine at the latter’s baptism. It had more plausibly been attributed to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana in the early 5th Century, and its present form —equal sections devoted to the Father and Son, a half-clause to the Holy Spirit, followed by a litany – fit in historically with part of the Arian controversy (over the nature of Christ) of the 4th Century. Much of the text is composed of traditional statements of belief; and unlike most hymns, it is prose. The petitions at the end of the hymn are a selection of verses from the book of Psalms, appended subsequently to the original hymn.
The English translation used in all denominations of the Christian church comes from Clarence Walworth (1820 – 1900), a Catholic priest from New York. It covers only the first half of the original Latin hymn that is still preserved as a Gregorian chant. The powerful canticle is often used as a setting for large choral arrangements and can be rendered by many different tunes.
The hymn follows the outline of the Apostles’ Creed, mixing a poetic vision of the heavenly liturgy with its declaration of faith. Calling on the name of God immediately, the hymn proceeds to name all those who praise and venerate God, from the hierarchy of heavenly creatures to those Christian faithful already in heaven to the Church spread throughout the world. The hymn then returns to its credal formula, naming Christ and recalling his birth, suffering and death, his resurrection and glorification. At this point, the hymn turns to the subjects declaring the praise, both the universal Church and the singer in particular, asking for mercy on past sins, protection from future sin, and the hoped-for reunification with the elect.
- We praise/ Thee, O/God: we acknowledge/Thee to/be the/Lord.
- All the/earth doth/Worship Thee: the/Father/ever/lasting.
- To Thee all angels/ cry a-/loud: the heavens, and/all the/powers there-/in.
- To Thee/cherubim, and /Seraphim: con/tinual-/ly do/cry.
- Holy,/holy,/holy: Lord /God of/Saba-/oth;
- Heaven and/earth are/Full: of the /majesty/of Thy/glory.
- The glorious company of the a-/postles/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 ac-/knowledge Thee.
- The /Fa-/ther/: of an /infinite/majes-/ty;
- Thine honourable, true and/only Son: Also the/Holy/Ghost the/Comforter.
- Thou art the King of/Glory O/Christ: Thou art the ever – / lasting / Son of the / Father.
- When Thou tookest upon Thee to de-/ liver/man: Thou didst not ab-/hor the/Virgin’s/womb.
- When Thou hadst overcome the/sharpness of/death: Thou didst open the kingdom of /heaven to /all /be-/lievers.
- 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 / ever-/ lasting.
- O Lord. Save Thy people and /bless Thine /heritage: Govern them and /lift them/up for / ever.
- Day by day we/magnify /Thee: And we worship Thy /name ever/world without / end.
- Vouchsafe, O Lord to keep us this /day without /sin:O Lord, have mercy up- /on us, have / mercy up-/ on us.
- O Lord, let Thy mercy lighten upon us as our / trust is in /Thee: O Lord, in Thee have I trusted, let me/never/ be con- /founded.