The Te Deum

Thee, O God, we praise

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This ancient hymn is traditionally attributed to Ambrose and/or Augustine (though Niketas of Remesiana remains a possibility). I believe Luther once said that this ranks right up there with the three creeds in terms of its quality and doctrinal clarity.


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 declaiming 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.

See The Lutheran Hymnal, The Order of Matins (p. 35).

The setting used in TLH is really quite nice--dramatic, but not overly so. The arc of the text is reflected in the "journey" between two key areas: Bb major and Bb minor.

Our hymn of praise begin in Bb major ("We praise thee...Thou art the everlasting Son..."), but suddenly shifts to Bb minor, reflecting Christ's sacrificial work ("When thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man...sharpness of death..."), returning to praise and supplication in Bb major ("O Lord save Thy people...O Lord in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.")

The Te Deum Laudaumus

We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting.

To Thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein;
To Thee chrubim and seraphim continually do cry;

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory.

The glorious company of the Apostles 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 acknowledge Thee:

The Father of an infinite majesty; Thine adorable true and only Son;
also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man,
Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a virgin.

When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

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 hadst redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Make them to be numbered with Thy saints
in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritage.
Govern them and lift them up forever.

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 upon us, have mercy upon us.

O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.