It’s important that we take time in talking to God to step back from praying for things, and remembering just to praise Him for being God. And when it comes to true “worship” hymns and prayers, nobody beats Catholics (although there are some great non-Catholic contributions in this field, for sure). Anyways, I thought I’d share some of my favorites today, ones which we hear, sing, and pray so often that it’s easy to overlook the beauty of what’s being said about God.
The version I’m used to goes:
Glory to God in the highest
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
Almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Granted, the second verse is a prayer for forgiveness, but the focus is squarely upon the majesty of God, so I’ll stand by it. Anyways, I discovered in looking up the text thtat there are a lot of other versions, and that ICEL (the Catholic liturgical folks) actually published a version that I might like even better. The first verse of the ICEL version goes like this:
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise You,
we bless You,
we adore You,
we glorify You,
we give You thanks for Your great glory,
Lord God, Heavenly King,
O God, Almighty Father.
It’s beautiful, and it’s modelled off of the prayer of the angels in Luke 2:14. We raise these hymns of praise with the choirs of angels. Intense.
This is another prayer from the Mass, and one which might get lost in the beauty of the other Eucharistic prayers. In English, the prayer goes:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Again, the prayer is modelled off of the hymns of the angels in Scripture: this time, Isaiah 6:3. It’s beautiful. Once you know what’s being said, I think the Latin version is actually more beautiful, if only that
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.
It may just be that, for me, praying it in Latin hints at the prayer’s transcendence. That is, we’re not just offering up the intentions of our hearts, but we’re offering them up with the saints around the world, and the angels and saints in Heaven, in a harmonous symphony to God.
The Te Deum used to be a part of the Roman Liturgy, but isn’t in the newer form: its absence is surely felt. In English, it goes:
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.
V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.
V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.
When St. Edmund Campion and the other Jesuit martyrs were condemned to death for the faith in the sixteenth century, they broke out in praise to God for the honor of being martyred, and it was this song they raised. Truly, Lord, “The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.”
It might be cheating to include this song, since it’s based on the Te Deum, but it’s sufficiently distinct to be worth mentioning separate. It’s a wonderful song:
Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.
Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.
Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white-robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.
Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.
The song is simple, in the sense that we’re not asking for anything, we’re not apologizing for anything, we’re just saying, essentially, “You’re God, and that’s incredible. That’s outstanding. Let us worship you.” I’ve never heard the third verse sung, but it’s nice to know that it exists, because it corresponds to the middle part of the Te Deum.
Anyways, those are four of my favorite hymns and prayers of worship. If you’ve got other picks, I’m interested in hearing what they are!