An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Te Deum laudamus

Canticle of praise named for its opening words in Latin. It appears as Canticles 7 and 21 in the BCP (pp. 52-53, 95-96). The traditional language Canticle 7 is also known as “We Praise Thee,” and the contemporary language Canticle 21 is also known as “You are God.” This hymn of praise dates from the fourth century. Unlike most canticles, it is not based on scripture. It is usually attributed to Niceta (c. 392-414), Bishop of Remesiana in Dacia. It is mentioned in the Rule of Caesarius and the Rule of Benedict as the canticle at matins. The Sarum Breviary used it after the last lesson at Sunday matins except during Advent, Pre-Lent, Lent, and certain other days. The 1549 BCP called for its use after the OT reading at matins except during Lent. The 1979 BCP lists the Te Deum laudamus as one of three songs of praise which may begin the first eucharist of Easter (p. 294). The Table of Canticles suggests its use at Morning Prayer after the NT reading on Sunday, except during Advent and Lent, and after the NT reading on Feasts of our Lord and other major feasts (p. 144). It is traditionally used as the hymn of praise following the pontifical blessing and dismissal at the ordination of a bishop. The BOS calls for the Te Deum laudamus or other song of praise after the seating of a bishop in the cathedra of the diocese in the service for the Welcoming and Seating of a Bishop in the Cathedral. The BOS also suggests its use in other seasonal services such as a Vigil for All Hallows' Eve and a Vigil for New Year's Eve. It has also been traditional to sing the Te Deum laudamus at other times of celebration outside the context of a liturgy, such as the election of a bishop at diocesan convention or a military victory. The Hymnal 1982 provides a variety of musical settings for both the traditional and contemporary versions of the Te Deum laudamus (S 205-S 207, S 282-S 288). The Hymnal 1982 Accompaniment Edition, Vol. 1, also provides a musical setting for the contemporary version of the Te Deum laudamus (S 407).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.