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Te Deum Laudamus

The Te Deum was probably composed by St. Nicetas (335-415). In general, the Te Deum is said in the Office at the end of Matins whenever the Gloria in excelsis is said at Mass. This rule is sufficiently accurate for those who use the Roman Breviary. In addition to it's liturgical use, the Te Deum is used in many additional Liturgical functions as a hymn of thanksgiving on occasions of great solemnity, such as the election of a pope, the consecration of a bishop, the benediction of an abbot, canonization of a saint, religious professions, etc.

The Te Deum is written in rhythmical prose. It consists of three distinct parts: Part I contains a hymn of praise to the blessed Trinity; the praise of Earth and of the Angelic choirs; the praise of the Church Triumphant and of the Church Militant. Part II is a hymn in praise of Christ, the Redeemer. It proclaims the glory of Christ, the eternal Son of the Father--His incarnation, victory over death, exaltation, future coming, and terminates with a prayer of supplication for those redeemed by the Precious Blood, that they may be numbered among the Saints. Part III is composed principally of verses from the Psalms. It contains a prayer of petition for the divine assistance and guidance; a declaration of our fidelity; a prayer for deliverance from sin during the day about to begin; it closes with a prayer for mercy for those who have hoped in the Lord.

The faithful who, to give thanks to God for blessings received, devoutly recite the Ambrosian hymn Te Deum laudamus are granted: an indulgence of 5 years. Please read the translated prayer as the choir sings this beautiful hymn in Latin. The music for this Te Deum was composed by Scarlatti (1685-1757).

Guardian Angels

How consoling is the thought of princes of the heavenly court charged with the care of our souls and bodies; ever at hand to ward off temptation; to repulse the demons, to suggest good and holy thoughts, to protect us from bodily danger and accidents in our coming and going; to stand by us and care for us till at last they shall joyfully present our souls, redeemed and cleansed, before the throne of God to receive the reward.

The lyrics for Humperdinck's "Evening Prayer" were based upon the following German Catholic children's prayer:

This night I lay me down to sleep, I give the Lord my soul to keep; If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Four corners of my bed, Four angels over head; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Bless this bed I lay upon. I lay my head on Our Lady's knee, Jesus come this night and save me. Heart of Joseph I adore thee, Heart of Mary I implore thee; Heart of Jesus pure and just, In those three hearts I place my trust. Amen.

O Sacred Head Surrounded

The hymn is based on a long medieval Latin poem, Salve mundi salutare, with stanzas addressing the various parts of Christ's body hanging on the Cross. The last part of the poem, from which the hymn is taken, is addressed to Christ's head, and begins "Salve caput cruentatum." The poem is attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153).

Lyrics: O Sacred Head Surrounded
(Latin: Salve caput cruentatum, St. Bernard)

O Sacred Head surrounded
By crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head so wounded,
Reviled and put to scorn!
Death's pallid hue comes o'er Thee,
The glow of life decays,
Yet angel hosts adore Thee,
And tremble as they gaze.

In this, Thy bitter passion,
Good shepherd, think of me,
With Thy most sweet compassion,
Unworthy though I be:
Beneath Thy cross abiding,
Forever would I rest;
In Thy dear love confiding,
And with Thy presence blest.

Stabat Mater: Meditations for the Stations of the Cross

The Stabat Mater is recognized as the tenderest and most pathetic hymn of the Middle Ages. In the simplest, and at the same time in the most vivid manner, it represents the Blessed Mother of God plunged in grief and weeping beneath the Cross on which her beloved Son was suffering so unmerited and so painful a death. The historical event (John 19, 25) is narrated in the first, second and fourth stanzas. The remaining stanzas are made up of reflections, affections, petitions, and resolutions arising from the contemplation of Our Lord's bitter sufferings and death.

The hymn "Stabat Mater" is ascribed to Jacopone da Todi, O.F.M. (d.1306). METER: Trochaic dimeter. The english translation of the Latin text is by Father Caswall and is perhaps the most extensively used. Composer: Claudio Casciolini (1697 - 1760).

LITURGICAL USE : Sequence for the Mass of the Seven Dolors on the Friday after Passion Sunday, and on the 15th of September when another Feast of the Seven Dolors is celebrated. For Divine Office use, the Stabat Mater is divided into three parts for Vespers, Matins and Lauds, as follows:

54 Vespers: Stabat Mater dolorosa.

55 Matins: Sancta Mater istud agas.

56 Lauds: Virgo virginum praeclara.

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are the essence and expression of the natural law imposed by the Almighty and All-wise Creator to govern and regulate the conduct of man in accordance with his nature, his obligations, his final end. They are also the rule of all human actions, of all human laws. The Commandments of God are our rule of life, for they determine and regulate our duties toward God, toward ourselves and toward our neighbor. They are, as our Lord declares, reducible to the two great Commandments of the love of God and of the love of our neighbor as ourselves.

Each Commandment forbids certain evil actions or thoughts, and prescribes certain good actions or thoughts. The prohibition of evil is obligatory at all times and everywhere; no person, no power, can lawfully dispense from such prohibition, or allow or prescribe what is evil, v.g., hatred of the neighbor, false oaths, drunkenness, adultery, etc. Each Commandment, in so far as it prescribes some good to be done, is obligatory only at certain times, on the occasions that occur of performing the good prescribed, v.g., acts of obedience to superiors, of charity toward the neighbor, of divine worship, etc. If we truly love God, we shall find no great difficulty in observing the Commandments, for, says our divine Saviour, "if anyone love me, he will keep my word" (John xiv. 23), that is, my Commandments.

The Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord

Oratorio, "Christ on the Mount of Olives"

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Beethoven wrote but one oratorio, "Christus am Oelberge" ("Christ on the Mount of Olives"). It was begun in 1800 and finished during the following year. The text is by Huber, and was written, with Beethoven's assistance, in fourteen days. The first performance of the work is entirely took place at Vienna, April 5, 1803, at the Theater an der Wien.

The closing number, a chorus of angels ("Hallelujah, God's almighty Son"), is introduced with a short but massive symphony leading to a jubilant burst of "Hallelujah," which finally resolves itself into a glorious fugue. In all sacred music it is difficult to find a choral number which can surpass it in majesty or power.

Lyrics for the Hallelujah

Hallelujah unto God's Almighty Son Praise the Lord,
ye bright angelic choirs
In holy songs of Joy.
Man, proclaim his grace and glory,
Hallelujah unto God's Almighty Son
Praise the Lord in holy songs of joy.