Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Te Deum – Part II

January 21st, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

We now move onwards to the next words of the Te Deum:


English: To thee all Angels cry aloud :
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim
continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty
of thy glory.

Latin: 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.

So what have we to glean from these few sentences? For one thing, we should note that “omnes Angeli,” “all the angels,” sing the glory of God. Their unending hymn of praise, which should soundly wholly familiar to every Catholic who reads this: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Sabaoth.

Here is where there may be a disconnect for us. We always substitute the word “Sabaoth” with the words “power and might.” The vast majority of English translations of the Mass, both pre-conciliar and post-conciliar, use this translation. What does “Sabaoth” mean?

It is from Hebrew, one of the tongues of the Bible. Therefore, its use as a word in reference to religious themes is pre-Christian, pre-Early Church. It was brought in, unadulterated, by the first Christians who were, in reality, Jews who had embraced Our Lord as saviour. It is an ancient term, and one whose meaning will have the liberals braying like donkeys. It means “armies.” Literally, “hosts,” as in “warriors.” There are many out there who hold the people of the Early Church in such high regard that their true messages, their true liturgy, their true prayers, are obscured by political agendas. That is shameful. You aren’t going to find evidence for married priests or women priests in the catacombs. If there is any fresco whose appearance seems to say “yes, they existed,” consider this: error has existed since Eve bit into the apple. Just because there may be evidence (there is not any valid evidence) does not mean that we should venerate it as the Truth.

So, even in the earliest days of the Church, there was a spirit of majestic warfare, “spiritually-majestic,” mind you. The early Christians were pacifists for the most part. Consider that many Jews turned from Our Lord when He made it clear He was the Prince of Peace, not of war. So why conjure up images of a celestial army of angels, of cherubim and seraphim, if we’re not going to use it?

It is a testament to the power and glory of God. What King has no army at his command? What Queen sits upon her throne without any guarantor of her authority? We should recall that there was a battle in Heaven, a battle between angels, as to the power of God. Satan and his minions dared to question God’s power – they wanted it for their own edification. This heavenly host, this army, “Sabaoth,” was that with which God crushed Satan, and sent him and his evil followers into the regions of Hell.

This victorious throng, this army of angels, praises God for His glory. We echo their hymn of praise every single Sunday when we chant or say the “Holy, Holy,” the “Sanctus.” What a profound linkage between heaven and earth, that we can join the angels in their hymn of praise, and offer to God, with one voice, all the glory due His name.

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2 Responses to “The Te Deum – Part II”

  1. Andrew says:

    In reference to your `ecumenism' of the first part, it is ironic that the BCP has a better English version of the Te Deum than any of the Catholic English translations.

    Not the worry, the coming (Rome approved) Anglo-Catholic liturgy will, God willing, provide good English and good theology.

  2. Gen says:

    That is certainly my hope. I look forward to this burst of true ecumenism. When I see that word, the "dreaded 'e' word," I don't see permission for Catholics to lose themselves in the heresies of others for the sake of fellowship. It is an opportunity through which our faith may shine.

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