Thursday, December 11, 2014

Appreciating the Book of Common Prayer: Te Deum Laudamus

This is the chapel at Trinity College Bristol
There's a lot to like about joining with others for morning prayer; about installing a communal liturgy of confessions and readings into the rhythm of your life. And as far as that goes--as noted earlier this week--there's a lot to like about The Book of Common Prayer.

For instance, consider this excerpt from what we prayed today: The Te Deum Laudamus [O God, we praise you]. I won't add much commentary since it speaks for itself, but please just notice the flow.

It builds to a crescendo and hits most or all of the essential notes of worship along the way. It gathers up the pray-er with all creation, calls to mind the great cloud of witnesses, confesses the being and works of the Triune God, and then at its climax prays for mercy and safety from sin.

All of this is framed by reckonings with Sabaoth [Sabbath] and world without end (and something about saying it Sabay-oth captures that sense of yearning for a mysterious creation that clicks along the way it ought).

In the midst of it all there are lines you could chew on the rest of the day--such as 'thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb'--and lines that are so simple--such as 'we acknowledge thee to be the Lord'--that you'd almost forget to say them (to your peril) if not for morning prayers.

Te Deum Laudamus.
 
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 Cherubin and Seraphin : continually do cry,
    Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Sabaoth;
    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.
    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.

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