Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Te Deum

January 19th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Over the next several days, I should like very much to look upon the words of the Te Deum, the ancient hymn of Thanksgiving to God, our Father. I will post two versions, side by side – the original Latin version, and the translation found in the Book of Common Prayer. I have perused it and, unlike other BoCP translations, it still captures the essence of the Latin. We were recently scolded for not being “ecumenical.” Maybe this can calm our critics.

Regardless, we will start today with the opening words:

Eng: We praise thee, O God :
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
the Father everlasting.
Latin: Te Deum laudamus:
te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.

I have noticed, in listening to this piece arranged by numerous composers, that many treat this hymn as a creed. And I can definitely see how that is possible. It begins, not with the gentle platitudes of most contemporary professions of faith, but with a clear sense of praising God, acknowledging Him to be supreme over all the Earth. There’s no fear about offending this group or that – we confirm our love for God, and his authority over all the Earth and everything and everyone upon it. It also states that all the Earth, “omnis terra,” praises Him, and confesses Him to be “everlasting.” What clearer statement is there than, “We praise God, a God who is everlasting, and whom all the world venerates”? Not many. Not many at all.

It takes a great deal of faith to acknowledge Him “to be the Lord.” In declaring this sentiment to be our own, we show a clear and undeniable belief: Jesus is God, and He is supreme. Both Jews and Muslims believe in the one God, the same “Father” in the Trinity. However, they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary, to be God. They cut themselves off from Our Lord, who is ready and waiting to be embraced by all. In years past, present, and future, Christians who live their lives by the simple elegance of the Te Deum have found themselves berated, attacked, martyred for “acknowledging” God to be supreme. We don’t rely on only the saintly prophets of old, nor do we rely on a nomadic pagan-turned-monotheist to be the conclusive word on God. We leave God to do that. I am not attacking our world neighbors or their views. I am simply stating what a Christian believes. To profess a faith, no matter how politically correct you may try to be, you silently deny the authority and authenticity of others. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.

Hindus, though, believe that there are innumerable paths to final fulfillment, and that you should be the best follower of whatever religion you discern to be the best for you. This is perhaps the greatest “theological cop-out” I have ever studied. “We believe A, but B, C, D, E, F, are also valid. We all end up in the same place.”

Well guess what – we don’t. There is such a thing as the final judgment. I do not claim to know the “secrets of men’s hearts,” but I do profess a belief in a God who is infinitely loving, but who will not be mocked by those whom he loves. What parent wouldn’t want to lash out when his or her child looks him or her in the face and says, “You’re not my parent. I don’t believe in you.” The parent loves the child, yes, but there is a clear sense of injury. And we have seen in the Sacred Scriptures what happens to people who injure God’s being and majesty – Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed for their unbridled homosexuality and rampant hyper-sexuality of all kinds, Adam and Eve being exiled from Eden. Sin is punished. Willfully and knowingly and exuberantly denying God is a sin.

And so we, in the spirit of the Te Deum, acknowledge God to be supreme, reigning over all with more authority and majesty than can be conceived of by our merely human intellect. Bow before Our God, and give Him the glory due His Name.



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