Swedenborgian praise: the Te Dominum

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been poking around Swedenborgian worship styles and I keep running to to references to a chanted text, the Te Dominum.

This isn’t the Te Deum — that well-known Christian canticle was so widespread that even the Universalists and Unitarians were known to sing it — rather, this was something only known to Swedenborgians.And it was also unknown to me, until last night when I found it in a hymnal of the middling-conservative General Church of the New Jerusalem, now more commonly known as the New Church.

I’m including it below, pointed for chanting. Here’s a PDF of the two pages, drawn from that hymnal.

We praise Thee O Lord, we acknówledge | Thee to | be our | God;
We magnify Thy holy náme and | worship | at Thy | footstool.

The heavens declare Thy glóry, the | earth is | full of · Thy | riches;
The Church doth wórship and ac-| knowledge | Thee a-| lone.

The Father eternal, the Word incárnate, the | Holy | Spirit, the | Comforter;
In essence and person óne Je-| hovah | Jesus | Lord.

To Thee the angels cry aloud, the héavens and | all the | powers there-| in;
To Thee cherubim and seraphím lift | up the | voice and | sing,

Holy, Holy, Hóly, | Lord · God Al-|mighty;
Heaven and éarth are | full · of Thy | glo-| ry.

Thou didst bów the | heavens · and come | down;
Thou didst clóthe Thy | self with | our | nature.

In Thy love and in Thy pity Thou hást re-| deemed | us;
And for our salvátion | Thou art | God with | us.

Thou didst endure all the bitternéss of | suffering · and temp-| tation.
Even to the passion of the cróss | and the | pangs of | death.

Thou didst burst asunder áll the | bonds of | death,
And rise in Divíne | majes-| ty and | glory.

Thou didst ascend on hígh leading cap-| tivi ty | captive;
The everlasting dóors were | open | to re-| ceive Thee.

High above all the héavens Thou | hast as-| cended,
Clóth-ed with | light and | girded · with | love.

Thou árt the | King of | glory;
Thóu | art Je-| hovah · of | Hosts.

Day by day will we exalt Thée O | Lord our | God,
And worship at Thy footstóol, for | Thou a-| lone art | holy.


Now, it’s clear it knows the Te Deum. But further research is necessary to understand its provenance and use — and when it fell into decline and where it might still be used.

"The Law of Love"

Later. Text added below.

I may be preaching occasionally for a small local Swedenborgian church in the future, so I figured the liturgy should match their tradition, no? Well, like the Unitarian and Universalist liturgical traditions, it seems to be remembered more than practiced. A shame: some of the more distinctive features have “great bones” and would clean up nicely. Time to show them off.

The following liturgical element (“The Law of Love”) is excerpted from a morning service from the Liturgy, or Book of Worship for Use of the New Church Signified by the New Jerusalem. (Tenth edition. 1873.) The chants, of course, may be read, which is how I expect they’d convey.

Images of a text without transcription is very bad form, so I’ll be tacking it on as I have time.

Then the Minister will read the Law of Love, the Poeple standing, and chanting or speaking the responses.

The Law of Love.

Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you: Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of the heavens: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.

Forever, | O Je-|hovah,
Thy Word is es-|tablished | in the | heavens:
Thy faithfulness is unto all | gene-|rations.
Thou hath established the | earth, and it | standeth | firm.


And Jesus said: The first of all the commandments is. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.

With my whole heart have I | sought | Thee.
O let me not | wander from | Thy com-|mandments.
Thy Word have I | hid in mine | heart:
That I might not | sin a-|gainst | Thee.


And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Blessed are the perfect | in the | way,
Who | walk in the law of Je-|hovah.
Blessed are they that keep His | testi-|monies:
That seek | Him with | all the | heart.


A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another. As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this will all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Search me, O God, and | know my | heart:
Try | me, and | know my | thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked | way in | me:
And lead me in the | way | ever-| lasting.


Therefore all things whatsover ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets.

The law was | given by | Moses:
Grace and truth | came by | Jesus | Christ.
And of His fullness have we | all re-|ceived:
And | grace for | grace: A-|men.

Books to recommend?

Good readers: I’ve been working on my 2010 resolutions for about three weeks now — it’s a lot easier to accomplish your goals in thirteen and a half months than twelve. And besides: I can hardly remember what I intended for 2009 at this point.

I’m a slow reader, but even so I would like to get twenty substantial books under my belt. I’m reading Emanuel Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell now.

What would you recommend? It needn’t be theological, but should be something that lets me look at something in a new or deeper way. Please note in the comments.

A good Christmas Eve service for a small church

I attended the Christmas Eve service at the Swedenborgian Church of the Holy City: I wrote about this service in 2005 and 2004.

The service is essentially the same as I wrote in 2005 except there were more people present and it began at 5pm. I didn’t time it but think the whole thing took 30 to 40 minutes. I like this. Too many of the services I’ve attended have been about 30 minutes too long (90 minutes or more!) and “festal” to the point of being precious.

A couple of more points to add from the 2005 description.

  • Liturgists actually walk and talk at the same time; say, opening the offering while walking down from the altar with the offering plates, or welcoming the congregation after walking from the Opening of the Word (literally opening the altar Bible; a Swedenborgian practice) back to the lecturn from which the service is conducted. This looks very natural and composed.
  • They know that a carol in a carol service isn’t necessarily a carol. A responsive reading or a “musical interlude” — Es ist ein Ros entsprungen on piano tonight — is just as appropriate and takes some of the strain off the vocal cords. Very nice.
  • The last liturgical action — after the lit candles bit — was very nice and the kind of thing only a very small church can do: process to the rear of the church singing “Silent Night” holding our candles. Benediction from there and people either leave or visit. A physical action visually matching the theme of the light spreading out into the world.