Te Deum

This article is about the hymn. For the type of service, see Te Deum (religious service).
"Ambrosian Hymn" redirects here. For hymns written by Ambrose, see Ambrosian hymns.
Te Deum stained glass window by Christopher Whall at St Mary's church, Ware, Hertfordshire

The Te Deum (also known as Ambrosian Hymn or A Song of the Church) is an early Christian hymn of praise. The title is taken from its opening Latin words, Te Deum laudamus, rendered as "Thee, O God, we praise".

The hymn remains in regular use in the Catholic Church in the Office of Readings found in the Liturgy of the Hours, and in thanksgiving to God for a special blessing such as the election of a pope, the consecration of a bishop, the canonization of a saint, a religious profession, the publication of a treaty of peace, a royal coronation, etc. It is sung either after Mass or the Divine Office or as a separate religious ceremony.[1] The hymn also remains in use in the Anglican Communion and some Lutheran Churches in similar settings.

In the traditional office, the Te Deum is sung at the end of Matins on all days when the Gloria is said at Mass; those days are all Sundays outside Advent, Septuagesima, Lent, and Passiontide; on all feasts (except the Triduum) and on all ferias during Eastertide. Before the 1961 reforms of Pope John XXIII, neither the Gloria nor the Te Deum were said on the feast of the Holy Innocents, unless it fell on Sunday, as they were martyred before the death of Christ and therefore could not immediately attain the beatific vision.[2] A plenary indulgence is granted, under the usual conditions, to those who recite it in public on New Year's Eve.[3]

In the Liturgy of the Hours of Pope Paul VI, the Te Deum is sung at the end of the Office of Readings on all Sundays except those of Lent, on all solemnities, on the octaves of Easter and Christmas, and on all feasts.[4] It is also used together with the standard canticles in Morning Prayer as prescribed in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, in Matins for Lutherans, and is retained by many churches of the Reformed tradition.


Te Deum on a stained glass window in the Sorrowful Mother Shrine Chapel (Bellevue, Ohio)

Authorship is traditionally ascribed to Saints Ambrose and Augustine, on the occasion of the latter's baptism by the former in AD 387. It has also been ascribed to Saint Hilary, but Catholic-Forum.com says "it is now accredited to Nicetas, bishop of Remesiana; (4th century)".[5]

The petitions at the end of the hymn (beginning Salvum fac populum tuum) are a selection of verses from the book of Psalms, appended subsequently to the original hymn.

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.


The hymn was chanted jubilantly by the people of Orléans after the successful Siege of Orléans, during the Hundred Years' War, when St. Joan of Arc and the French army entered the town.[6]


Tonus Solemnis - Gregorian Chant

Te Deum Charpentier

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The text has been set to music by many composers, with settings by Haydn, Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Bruckner, Furtwängler, Dvořák, Britten, Kodály, and Pärt among the better known. Jean-Baptiste Lully wrote a setting of Te Deum for the court of Louis XIV of France, and received a fatal injury while conducting it. The prelude to Marc-Antoine Charpentier's setting (H.146) is well known in Europe on account of its being used as the theme music for some broadcasts of the European Broadcasting Union, most notably the Eurovision Song Contest. Earlier it had been used as the theme music for Bud Greenspan's documentary series, The Olympiad. Sir William Walton's Coronation Te Deum was written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Other English settings include those by Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar, and Herbert Howells, as well as three settings each by George Frideric Handel and Charles Villiers Stanford.

Puccini's opera Tosca features a dramatic performance of the initial part of the Te Deum at the end of Act I.

A version by Father Michael Keating is popular in some Charismatic circles. Mark Hayes wrote a setting of the text in 2005, with Latin phrases interpolated amid primarily English lyrics. In 1978, British hymnodist Christopher Idle[7] wrote God We Praise You,[8] a version of the text in meter, set to the tune Rustington. British composer John Rutter has composed two settings of this hymn, one entitled Te Deum and the other Winchester Te Deum. Igor Stravinsky set the first 12 lines of the text as part of The Flood in 1962. Antony Pitts was commissioned by the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music to write a setting for the 2011 10th Anniversary Festival.[9][10] The 18th-century German hymn Großer Gott, wir loben dich is a free translation of the Te Deum, which was translated into English in the 19th century as "Holy God, we praise thy name."[11]

Latin and English text

Latin text Translation from the Book of Common Prayer

Te Deum laudámus: te Dominum confitémur.
Te ætérnum Patrem omnis terra venerátur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi cæli et univérsae potestátes.
Tibi Chérubim et Séraphim incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra majestátis glóriæ tuæ.
Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus;
Te Prophetárum laudábilis númerus;
Te Mártyrum candidátus laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum sancta confitétur Ecclésia:
Patrem imménsæ majestátis;
Venerándum tuum verum et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque Paráclitum Spíritum.
Tu Rex glóriæ, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Fílius.
Tu ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem, non horruísti Vírginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo,
    aperuísti credéntibus regna cælórum.
Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes, in glória Patris.
Judex créderis esse ventúrus.
Te ergo quǽsumus, tuis fámulis súbveni,
    quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.
Ætérna fac cum sanctis tuis in glória numerári.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine, et bénedic hæreditáti tuæ.
Et rege eos, et extólle illos usque in ætérnum.
Per síngulos dies benedícimus te.
Et laudámus nomen tuum in sǽculum, et in sǽculum sǽculi.
Dignáre, Dómine, die isto sine peccáto nos custodíre.
Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri.
Fiat misericórdia tua, Dómine, super nos, quemádmodum sperávimus in te.
In te, Dómine, sperávi: non confúndar in ætérnum.

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 Cherubim and Seraphim : continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Hosts;
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 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 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 hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
O Lord, save thy people : and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
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 lighten upon us : as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted : let me never be confounded.

In the Book of Common Prayer, verse is written in half-lines, at which reading pauses, indicated by colons in the text.



  1. "The Te Deum (cont.)". Musical Musings: Prayers and Liturgical Texts — The Te Deum. CanticaNOVA Publications. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  2.  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Holy Innocents". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  3. "Te Deum". Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  4. "General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours". Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  5. Archived December 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. Journal du siège d'Orléans
  7. "Christopher Idle ‹ People ‹ About :: The Jubilate Group". Jubilate.co.uk. 1938-09-11. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  8. "The Worshiping Church page 42". Hymnary.org. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  9. "lfccm.com". lfccm.com. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
  10. February 2011 from Jerusalem to Jericho Archived July 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name". Cyberhymnal.org. Retrieved 2014-07-21.
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