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Wednesday, September 22, 2010 

A Study Of The Te Deum With Pastor Wil Weedon On Issues, Etc.

Issues, Etc. had a great segment on Monday with Pastor Wil Weedon of St. Paul Lutheran-Hamel, IL study the Te Deum, one of the Christian church’s most ancient hymns of praise. I hope everyone will take some time out of their day and listen to Pastor Weedon walk through this marvelous hymn that is so strong theologically that Martin Luther thought it should be one of our creeds. Listen here.

The Te Deum is one of my absolute favorite hymns and I enjoy singing it once or twice a month during the Order of Matins on the Sundays. While the Stephan Starke setting of the Te Deum used on the show is not my favorite setting, I couldn’t help but smile and sing along as the verses were being played while on my way home in the car last night.

Here is the text for one the greatest sung confessions on this side of eternity and the other side of eternity as well if Pastor Weedon is correct in his sanctified speculation (and I have no reason to think otherwise!):

Te Deum Laudamus

We praise you O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord;
all the earth now worships you, the Father everlasting.
To you all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein;
to you cherubim and seraphim continually do cry:
Holy, holy, holy Holy Lord, God of Sabaoth,
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise you,
the goodly fellowship of the prophets praise you,
the noble army of martyrs praise you,
the holy Church throughout all the world does acknowledge you:
the Father of an infinite majesty, your adorable, true,
and only Son, also the Holy Spirit, the counselor.
You are the King of glory, O Christ.
You are the everlasting Son of the Father.
When you took upon yourself to deliver man,
you humbled yourself to be born of a virgin.
When you had overcome the sharpness of death,
you opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You sit at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that you will come to be our judge.
We therefore pray you help your servants,
whom you have redeemed with your precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with your saints in glory everlasting.

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I love, love, love the Te Deum. I love Starke's adaptation of it, and I love the old Anglican chant setting of it in TLH.

I can't sing it without choking up, both due to the beautiful words, and due to the fact that it's so very, very old.

If Martin Luther thought it should be one of the creeds, that is because it is one of the creeds. Namely, the Apostles' Creed, on which it is based, as a "heavenly" version thereof, and whose structure it retains.

The text here given leaves off the last 11 verses, which are actually from Psalms -- salvem fac populum tuum etc (Save thy people etc)

But at least nobody's pushing the old spontaneously composed by Ambrose and Augustine as the former baptised the latter.

But hey, I'm a Pange lingua guy.

Thanks Past Elder for the comment. I’ve, of course, sung the longer form of the Te Deum but it’s the shorter form that I learned first and the one I’m used to singing even now. For me it’s a matter of familiarity and that is all concerning what text I went looking for.

I’ve never seen the Pange lingua used except in videos or on TV. I think that there is a RC parish that holds the Mass in Latin once a month.

I expect the Pange lingua would be a more difficult fit with Lutherans. It was written for the Feast of Corpus Christi, and apart from that it and its last two verses, which separately are the Tantum ergo, are or at least were common at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament! I learned them both in grade school in Latin -- they used to do stuff like that!

The older Pange lingua, which was the basis of Aquinas' one, has the Passion itself as its subject, and does get play among Lutherans, in fact I think PTM recently posted on it. It is used at Matins and Lauds in Passiontide, and also during the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday.

I've only seen that done once in a Lutheran context, where, instead of the procession to the sanctuary to kiss the cross of my my preconciliar RC youth, everyone stayed where they were for silent meditation of the HUGE crucifix that hangs over the altar.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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