Friday, May 16, 2008

Te Deum

The Te Deum is a very beautiful and very old hymn; many attribute it to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (Romatiana) in what is now Servia, who was born about 335 and died about 414. Others attribute it to Ambrose. The hymn is chanted on very special occasions, and in particular on occasions of great thanksgiving. This long article about the Te Deum at CanticaNova (also found at New Advent) discusses the possible provenance and the musical structure of the hymn, and notes that:
The general rubrics (titulus XXXI) of the Roman Breviary direct the recitation of the Te Deum at the end of Matins:
(a) on all feasts throughout the year, whether of nine or of three lessons, and throughout their octaves. It is said on the octave day of the feast of the Holy Innocents, but not on the feast itself unless this should fall on Sunday;
(b) on all Sundays from Easter (inclusively) to Advent (exclusively) and from Christmas (inclusively) to Septuagesima (exclusively);
(c) on all ferial days during Eastertide (namely from Low Sunday to Ascension Day) except Rogation Monday.

For the sake of greater explicitness, the rubrics add that it is not said on the Sundays of Advent, or from Septuagesima to Palm Sunday inclusively, or on ferial days outside of Eastertide. It is said immediately after the last lesson, and therefore replaces the third or ninth responsory, as the case may be; but on days when it is not said, its place is occupied by the responsory. The Te Deum is followed immediately by Lauds except on Christmas Day (when it is followed by the prayer, and this is Mass). In general, the Te Deum may be said to follow the same rubric as the Gloria in excelsis at Mass.
In addition to its use in the Divine Office, the Te Deum is occasionally sung in thanksgiving to God for some special blessing (eg. the election of a pope, the consecration of a bishop, the canonization of a saint, the profession of a religious, the publication of a treaty of peace, a royal coronation, etc.), and then usually after Mass or Divine Office, or as a separate religious ceremony. When sung thus immediately before or after Mass, the celebrant, who intones the hymn, may wear the vestments appropriate in colour to the day, unless these should happen to be black. Otherwise, while the rubrics prescribe no special colour, violet is forbidden in processions of thanksgiving (pro gratiarum actione), green is inappropriate for such solemn occasions, red (though permissible) would not suggest itself, unless some such feast as Pentecost, for example, should call for it. White, therefore, or gold, which is considered its equivalent, is thus left as the most suitable colour. The choir and congregation sing the hymn standing, even when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, but kneel during the verse "Te ergo quaesumus..." At the end the versicles "Benedicamus Patrem..." are added, followed by the single prayer "Deus cujus misericordiae."

I've heard it sung several times at occasions of great thanksgiving, at least twice at the profession of final monastic vows. It is a truly wonderful moment - a moment of an indescribable sense of joy.

It is also often sung on Trinity Sunday - the Sunday after Pentecost - at the end of the mass or at the end of Evensong. Sometimes this is a "Solemn Te Deum," and two thurifers stand on either side of the altar and swing the thuribles throughout the the song, and bells are rung and incense splendidly rises. Glorious.

The last words of Shakespeare's "Henry V" are these, spoken by the King, after the battle of Agincourt:
Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung 'Non nobis' and 'Te Deum;'
The dead with charity enclosed in clay:
And then to Calais; and to England then:
Where ne'er from France arrived more happy men.
Here's a Te Deum Simplex (i.e., sung to the Simple Tone, as opposed to the video above, sung to the Solemn Tone):

Here's an mp3 from the Brazilian Benedictines. Here's the blurb about this there:
In occasions of thaksgiving the Te Deum hymn is used; it's more known versions are the Simple and the Solemn, but there's also a third version, more roman style, which follows.

Here is the chant score of the solemn Te Deum.

Here is an .ogg file of the Te Deum (labeled as a "solemn tone"), found at Wikipedia; here's another, labeled "Pontifical Mass."

Here is the Latin, and the translation in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; this translation is still used in Rite I (although it is slightly altered, I believe; would have to get out the book and check to make sure):

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.
We praise thee, O God
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord
All the earth doth worship thee
the Father everlasting.
To thee all the angels cry aloud
the heavens and all the powers therein.
To thee cherubim and seraphim do continually cry
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth
are full of the majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of 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 honourable 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 not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the hand of God in glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants,
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting
O Lord save thy people
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
and 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 lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord in thee have I trusted let me not be confounded.

"O Lord save thy people and bless thine heritage," from Psalm 28, has of course showed up in the Suffrages in the Book of Common Prayer.

Here are mp3s and chant scores for all the Propers of the mass of Sanctissimæ Trinitatis - Trinity Sunday - always the Sunday following Pentecost. Of special note is the introit, Benedicta sit; here is the mp3 and here is the chant score/

Here's a video of an organ solo of the Charpentier Te Deum, just for fun:


Anonymous said...

Thank you for both this, and Hills' Ave Verum; wonderful!

bls said...

You're welcome - but I'm not sure what you mean about the Ave Verum; I think you must be thinking of somebody else?


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