Te Deum

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Baptism of Augustine by Bishop Ambrose

Te Deum (from Latin Te Deum laudamus , German You, God, we praise ) is the beginning of a solemn Latin song of praise, thanksgiving and supplication by the Christian Church. It was probably made in the 4th century, the author is unknown.

German translations are Herr Gott, we praise you (EG 191) by Martin Luther (1529), Großer Gott, we praise you (1774), and you, God, we praise (1950) for use in the Catholic liturgy.


In terms of form, it is neither a metrical nor an accenthythmic hymn , but prose consisting of 29 unbound lines of various lengths. The structure shows parallels to Gloria in excelsis Deo . After several verses about God the Father and God the Son follow psalm verses. The central theme is the unification of the hymn of praise of the heavenly hosts, the apostles, prophets, and martyrs with the whole church for heavenly hymns. The praise of Christ relates to the essential contents of the creed and turns into requests for mercy and redemption as well as affirmations of the confidence in faith. Perhaps an original version ended with verse 21 (in gloria numerari [var. Lect .: munerari]).


The Te Deum is also known as the Ambrosian hymn of praise ( Hymnus Ambrosianus ). The original liturgical location is controversial (the following are being considered: part of an Easter vigil ; derivation from ancient Greek evening hymns) and the question of the author. The medieval tradition (mentioned in manuscripts from the late 8th century) According created both by the Holy Spirit taken saint Ambrose of Milan and Augustine together this song: When Augustine as an adult Easter 387 in Milan the baptism received, Bishop Ambrose got this hymn intoned; Augustine replied in verses. Other authors such as Hilarius von Poitiers are also mentioned occasionally. More recently, Niketas , the bishop of Remesiana (around 400), is believed to be the author, but this assignment remains highly uncertain.


Evidence goes back to the early 6th century. Whether the origin can be traced back to the first half of the 4th century, the time of Ambrosian chant , from which it differs fundamentally in formal terms, remains uncertain. The present form is the first time in Antiphonarium Benchorense of Bangor ( Ireland handed down by 690). In the handwritten tradition, three reviews, a Milanese, an Irish and a Mozarabic version, can be distinguished from each other, which differ not only in their readings (variations in the wording) but also in their verse. Since the 9th century, translations into vernacular languages ​​and metrical versifications in Latin have been documented.

Translations into German

Martin Luther described the Te Deum as the third creed , along with the Credo (“I believe” - beginning of the Apostolic or the parallel developed Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed ) and the Quicumque (“Whoever wants to be saved” - beginning of the Athanasian Creed ) . In 1529 he translated the text as rhyming alternating chants into German ( Lord God, we praise you ) and simplified the traditional Gregorian melody. In 1771 the Te Deum was copied by Ignaz Franz and in this version became a hymn as Great God, we praise you (Musik Wien, 1774). 1950 was the Te Deum by Romano Guardini transmitted by an authoritative translation into German and again as contrafactum with the Gregorian melody to the old Gotteslob taken (GL old 706).

The meaning of the Te Deum as a song of thanks (pro gratiarum actione) "on many occasions (e.g. abbot and abbess election, episcopal ordination, papal election, royal coronation)" led to its use as "acclamatory approval". From the Baroque onwards, the Te deum was used "for courtly and state ceremonies", but was replaced in France by the Marseillaise since the French Revolution .

Text of the Te Deum

Audio file / audio sample Listen ? / i Te Deum - Tonus sollemnis

Latin German

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 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, Christ .
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 haereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singular dies, benedicimus te.
Et laudamus noun tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare Domine, the 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.

See also:

(1. Creation praises the triune God)
You, God, we praise, you, Lord, we praise.
The earth pays homage to you, the Eternal Father.
The angels call to you all, to you heaven and all powers,
the Kerubim to you and the Serafim in a never ending voice:
holy the Lord, the God of multitudes!
Heaven and earth are full of your high glory.

(2. The Church praises the Triune God)
You are praised by the glorious choir of the apostles ;
thou the praiseworthy number of the prophets ;
the martyrs shining army;
The holy church praises you over the earth;
you, the father of immeasurable majesty;
your true and only son;
and the Holy Advocate Spirit.

(3. Praise to Jesus Christ)
You King of Glory, Christ.
You are the Father's everlasting Son.
You have not spurned the virgin's womb, you have become human to free human beings.
You have conquered the sting of death and opened the kingdoms of heaven to those who believe.

You sit at the right hand of God in the glory of your father.
As a judge, we believe you will one day return.
We ask you then, come to the aid of your servants, whom you redeem with precious blood.
In eternal glory, count us among your saints.

(4th petitions)
Save your people, O Lord, and bless your inheritance;
and lead them and lift them up forever.
Every day we
praise you and praise your name forever, yes, in eternity.
In grace, Lord, will you keep us without guilt on this day.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your mercy be upon us, as we have hoped for you.
I have put my hope in you, O Lord. I will not be ashamed forever.
(Translation after Romano Guardini , 1950)

See also:


In the reading chamber of the Liturgy of the Hours on Sundays outside of Lent, in the octaves of Christmas and Easter, on feasts and festivals, the Te Deum follows the responsory of the second reading . In addition, it is also heard in church services in which there is an occasion for thanksgiving, such as after processions and ordinations , and in the past also often after the coronation of kings and emperors .

In the Middle Ages the Te Deum was also used in the great Marienofficium . The less frequently documented Passionsofficium of a pseudo-Bonaventure also started the Te Deum . The Te Deum is documented for the first time in the so-called Ratold Ordo , which is set around 980. The people then moved into the church at the beginning of the king's insurrection and agreed to the Te Deum as an expression of approval, while the future king was led by two bishops to the altar and prostrated himself there until the end of the chant. The Te Deum can be found again in the so-called Ordo von Arras , a mixture of the Mainz Ordo and the Ratold Ordo from the first half of the 11th century. After the throne, the king promised the archbishop to keep peace for the people, to protect them and to be a just judge towards them. After the congratulations from the clergy and the kiss of peace had been received, the Te Deum rang out before a large procession began the actual coronation mass. The process is reproduced in a very similar way in the Ordo of Saint-Bertin (originated around 1150/1200) and in the Ordo of 1200 . For the imperial coronation of 1529, it is said that the Lateran canons sang the Te Deum when the emperor took possession of their church by celebrating mass there. On such occasions, the full bells of the church and all altar bells are often rung.

The Gregorian Te Deum is sung or prayed by the cardinals who are entitled to vote, especially after a papal election .

When Elisabeth of Thuringia left the Wartburg in late autumn 1227, she had a Te Deum sung.

There are many settings, mostly of the Latin text, which are performed at concerts around the world (see list of settings in the Te Deum ).

The Te Deum was increasingly taken over by politics. After all, it was no longer just about the glory of God, but more about the glory of a ruler, or the hymn was heard on the occasion of victory celebrations.

The bells of churches are often tuned to the opening notes (e – g – a) of the Gregorian Te Deum ("Te-Deum-chimes").

Live broadcasts by the European Broadcasting Union will begin with the beginning of the introduction to the Te Deum by French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier .

The writer Robert Hohlbaum called one of his works (1950) the Tedeum .

Gregorian chant

In Gregorian chant , several melodies of the Te Deum have been handed down, including in the tonus sollemnis ("solemn tone") and simplified in the tone simplex ("simple tone"). These chants all begin with the pitch sequence e - g– a and are mostly notated in the third mode . In the middle part and at the end, however, there are also some verses in the related fourth mode, in which the melody also falls under the opening and closing note e .

Gregorian Te Deum in Tonus sollemnis

The earliest polyphonic versions date from the 13th century, later from the 15th and 16th centuries. They were sung alternately between the congregation and the choir. All of these pieces were based on the original chorale melody as a cantus firmus . Famous composers from all ages have set the Te Deum to music (see list of settings of the Te Deum ).

Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern

Beginning of Charpentier's Te Deum, arranged as an organ solo

Among the composers of modern times , Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina wrote a Te Deum for the first time in the 16th century.

In the baroque period the Te Deum played an important role in courtly representation. This can be seen, among other things, in the sumptuous compositions by Jean-Baptiste Lully as court composer of Louis XIV and Marc-Antoine Charpentier . Several works by the Viennese court are also known, such as the Coronation Te Deum by Johann Joseph Fux or the Te Deum in D major by Marc'Antonio Ziani . Six settings of the text come from Georg Friedrich Händel . For the first time with a German text, Johann Sebastian Bach composed hymns and cantatas of praise for church use (Lord God, we praise you) . In the Wiener Klassik , both Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote a Te Deum with again a Latin text. In the Romantic era , composers began to dedicate themselves to this type of work as an almost secular text. They include the Czech Antonín Dvořák , the French Georges Bizet and Hector Berlioz, and the Italian Giuseppe Verdi , whose Te Deum has a certain special status; it is the fourth part of the Quattro pezzi sacri . With this work, the Te Deum finally established itself as a pure concert piece without ties to the Christian liturgy .

One of the most popular and perhaps the most listed and on phonograms recorded Te Deum wrote the Austrian Anton Bruckner , who is also for the purpose of concert performances certain (as a substitute for an unfinished final movement of his Symphony No. 9 ). After Bruckner, the conductor  Wilhelm Furtwängler turned to the Te Deum as a composer, which, in its powerful, solemn expression, seems to try to outdo Bruckner's model. Other composers from the Romantic period and the 20th century were Edward Elgar , Benjamin Britten , Josef Schelb , Krzysztof Penderecki and Arvo Pärt , who wrote a Te Deum .

The popular hymn by Ignaz Franz (1719–1790) Great God, we praise you is based on the Te deum and has gained non-denominational significance.

See also: List of settings of the Te Deum .

See also


  • Guido Maria Dreves, Clemens Blume: A millennium Latin hymn poem. Volume 1, Leipzig 1909, p. 359.


Web links

Wikisource: Te Deum  - Sources and full texts (Latin)

Individual evidence

  1. Hans-Christian Drömann : 191 - Lord God, we praise you (Te Deum) . In: Gerhard Hahn , Jürgen Henkys (Hrsg.): Liederkunde zum Evangelisches Gesangbuch . No. 6/7 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-525-50330-X , p. 107–115 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  2. Cf. Brun Candidus von Fulda , Vita Aegil abbatis Fuldensis II, 17, 54-90 (ed. Gereon Becht-Jördens, Vita Aegi abbatis Fuldensis a Candido ad Modestum edita prosa et versibus. An Opus Geminum of the IXth century. Introduction and critical edition, self-published, Marburg 1994); Wulfstan Cantor, Narratio metrica de Sancto Swithuno I 984-1021 (ed.Alistair Campbell, Frithegotdi monachi breuiloquium vitae Beati Wilfredi et Wulfstani Cantoris narratio metrica de Sancto Swithuno. Thesaurus Mundi, Zurich 1950)
  3. Markus Bautsch: About Contrafactures of Gregorian Repertoire - Te Deum , accessed on December 3, 2014
  4. ^ A b Albrecht Gerhards, Friedrich Lurz: Te Deum laudamus . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 9 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2000, Sp. 1306-1308, here col. 1307 f . (with further relevant literature).
  5. The oldest manuscripts have the variant munerari ("to be rewarded"), which is preferable as the lectio difficilior (more demanding reading )
  6. General Introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours , no.68
  7. Franz Unterkirchner: The Liturgy of the Hours of the Middle Ages. Graz 1985, p. 130.
  8. ^ Richard A. Jackson (ed.): Ordines Coronationis Franciae. Texts and Ordines for the Coronation of Frankish and French Kings and Queens in the Middle Ages, Vol. 1. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 1995, p. 178, No. XV 4, p. 213, No. XVI 41, p. 246, No. XVIII 24, p. 262, No. XIX 39.
  9. Reinhard Elze (ed.): The ordines for the consecration and coronation of the emperor and the empress (MGH Fontes in usum scholarum, 9). Hannover 1960, p. 179, no.71 (Ordo no. XXVVII).
  10. Markus Bautsch: On the Effect of the Neapolitan Sixth Chord - In Gregorian Chant - Te Deum , accessed on December 8, 2014