Te Deum and its History

In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 21, 2011, the Pope Benedict XVI presided at first Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This was followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional “Te Deum” of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the year, and the Eucharistic blessing.

Read excepts from his holiness’ homily.

Te Deum laudamus! The Te Deum is also sometimes called the Ambrosian Hymn because of its association with St. Ambrose. First attributed to Sts. Ambrose, Augustine, or Hilary, it is now accredited to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (c. 335 – c. 414). It is used at the conclusion of the Office of the Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours on Sundays outside Lent, daily during the Octaves of Christmas and Easter, and on Solemnities and Feast Days. The petitions at the end were added at a later time and are optional. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it in thanksgiving and a plenary indulgence is granted if the hymn is recited publicly on the last day of the year.

The Te Deum was one of only 2 hymns (along with Veni Creator Spiritus) which was incluced in the Anglican Service by Thomas Cranmer in 1549. The Te Deum laudamus is also included as one of the Greater Canticles and is traditionally used in the Anglican service at Evening Prayer (Evensong).

There are over twenty-five metrical versions of the Te Deum translated into English. These include two versions used in American Catholic hymnals, including “Thee, Sovereign God, our grateful accents praise” (Dryden) and “Holy God, we praise Thy Name” (Walworth). There are also six English versions based on Luther’s free German translation. Other German versions include, “Grosser Gott, wir loben dich.” [From the Catholic Encyclopedia.]

Unlike the Gloria (the Greater Gloria), the Te Deum is rarely sung congregationally but is often sung on festival occasions in concert version by the choir. These include settings by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Brittin, John Rutter, and others.

Read or download the Zenith article on the Te Deum in English its History.

Read or download the Te Deum.


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