Music: The Te Deum

Listen to this beautiful ancient hymn of the Church (English and Latin) and learn how you might incorporate it into your own spirituality and prayer life.


The Te Deum is a hymn directed to God.  It’s an ancient hymn in Catholic tradition that remains part of the official prayer of the Church, the Divine Office.  

This Latin audio version above is sung by Harpa Dei—a brother and three sisters. More of their music here. Below is a video of the same hymn but in English. It’s my personal favorite.

English Version

The Lyrics are at the bottom of this page

History

The Te Deum is attributed to St. Ambrose, but it’s authorship has never been truly nailed down. It’s ancient him in Catholic tradition.  It may be unknown to many Catholics, but those who pray the Divine Office are familiar with it, as it is a permanent part of the Office of Readings said on Sundays and Holy Days.

It’s a beautiful hymn, both in its melody and especially its words.  It’s a hymn of praise directed to God (Te Deum means “To God”), in the form of various phases of praise and glory.  It’s for this reason that we’re offering it here.  You’ll find it an interesting addition to your prayer life if you choose to pray, or sing it, or you may simply enjoy listening to it.

When to Pray

You can sing or recite the Te Deum any time of day.  If you want to sing it you will find the video version (in English) is easier to follow and learn.

The Te Deum is traditionally said after the Office of Readings on Sundays and Holy Days. But you don’t have to say the Office of Readings in order to follow that tradition. Since the office of readings is said first thing in the morning, you might sing or recite the Te Deum in the morning on Sundays and Holy Days.

The words of the Te Deum also serve as a powerful prayer of thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion.  This can be done after returning to your pew following reception of the Eucharist, or after mass has ended.  It’s a long prayer, but don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize it. Using a cheat sheet (on paper, or on your smartphone!) is perfectly acceptable. You’ll start to memorize it the more you pray it.

The Te Deum is a particularly powerful prayer tool for meditation.  Take it line by line, or phrase by phrase, mediating on the words and expressions of the prayer.  If something especially stands out for you, then just focus on that for as long as you want.  When meditating on the Te Deum, it isn’t necessary to get through the entire prayer. You may only meditate on a few lines or phrases, or different sections.  You may find yourself meditating on single words in the prayer.

Lyrics

Latin

Te Deum laudamus:
te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli;
tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim
incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum
sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium; Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni:
quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine,
et benedic hereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singulos dies benedicimus te;
Et laudamus Nomen tuum in saeculum,
et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire. Miserere nostri Domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi:
non confundar in aeternum.

English

You, O God, we praise; you, O Lord, we confess. You, the Eternal Father, all the earth worships. To you all the Angels,

to you heaven and all its Powers,
to you the Cherubim and Seraphim
cry out with unceasing voice:
Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are full
of the majesty of your glory.
It is you whom the glorious choir of apostles,
you whom the praiseworthy number of the prophets,
you whom the white-robed army of martyrs praises. Throughout the world
the holy Church confesses you:
Father of immeasurable majesty;
your true and only Son, deserving of worship;
and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
You, O Christ, are the King of Glory;
you are the Father’s eternal Son.
When you endeavored to set man free,
you did not despise the Virgin’s womb.
With the sting of death defeated,
you opened for believers the kingdom of heaven.
You sit at the right hand of God, in the Father’s glory.
You are known to be the judge who is to come.
Therefore, we beg you, come to the help of your servants, whom you have redeemed by your precious blood.
Grant them to be counted among your saints in eternal glory. Save your people, Lord,
and bless your inheritance.
Rule them and uphold them for all eternity.
Throughout every day we bless you,
and we praise your name forever,
and forever and ever.
Deign, O Lord, to keep us without sin this day.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
just as we have hoped in you.
In you, O Lord, I have hoped;
I will not be brought to ruin forever.

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