Te Deum Laudamus
January 31, 1993
Brother John Raymond
Ambrose was born around the year 334 in Gaul. His father was a
government official who died while Ambrose was very young. He and
his mother moved to Rome. Here Ambrose was given a good education.
His skill as an orator eventually earned him the position of
Governor of Liguria and Aemilia with his residence in Milan.
In 374 the Bishop of Milan died. He was an Arian Bishop (Arianism
was a heresy that taught the Son of God is not of the same nature,
substance or dignity as God the Father and not coeternal). At the
election of a new Bishop there was bitter opposition between people
who wanted an Arian Bishop and those wanting for a Catholic Bishop.
Ambrose went to the church where the election was held hoping to
calm the disorder there. He spoke to the assembly urging them to
proceed in peace. While he was speaking someone yelled, "Ambrose,
Bishop." The whole assembly joined in enthusiastically. Ambrose was
shocked at this turn of events. He was raised in a Catholic family
but was not yet baptized.
Ambrose wrote to the Emperor about what had taken place. The
emperor was delighted that he had been chosen for such a position.
This was not what Ambrose had expected. He tried to hide but no one
would take him once the Emperor's decision was made known. Finally
Ambrose accepted his new position and was baptized, consecrated a
Deacon, then Priest and then made Bishop.
The new Bishop immediately gave all his money to the Church and
to the poor. He set to work studying the Faith. Also, he devoted
himself entirely to the service of his people. So much so that the
people could see and talk to him at any time. His talks on the
excellence of the state of virginity for God's sake inspired many
virgins and widows to embrace this vocation. His sister, St.
Marcellina, urged him to collect his written sermons on this subject
which became a famous treatise. He wrote many other works during the
course of his office as Bishop.
On more than one occassion St. Ambrose had to defend the Catholic
Faith. One time a document was sent to the Emperor asking for a
pagan altar to be set up in the senate house. Upon hearing about
this St. Ambrose wrote to the Emperor opposing it. Documents both
for and against this proposition were read to the Emperor. St.
Ambrose's well thought out arguments convinced the Emperor not to
On another occassion the Empress of the Roman Empire influenced
her son, the Emperor, to take possession of a Basilica just outside
of Milan to be used by the Arians for their services. The Emperor
asked St. Ambrose to give up the Basilica but he refused. So
soldiers were sent to take it. St. Ambrose was very popular among
the people and even among the soldiers. Both groups sided with his
cause forcing the Emperor to back down on his plans.
The most heroic stand of St. Ambrose took place when the Empress
influenced her son to pass a law allowing the Arians to hold
services anywhere. Anyone opposing this law would be sentenced to
death. The Arians began holding their services in Catholic churches
and taking them over. St. Ambrose opposed the Arians and would not
let them use even one church in his diocese. Because of this
Imperial troops were sent to arrest him. They surrounded the
Basilica which the people had barricaded trying to protect the
Bishop. The soldiers decided to starve the people out. About this
time an army from the north invaded Italy. The Roman Emperor and
Empress had to flee to Greece to seek help from the Emperor there.
With his help the invading army was defeated. But now the Greek
Emperor was ruler of the whole Roman Empire. This invasion released
St. Ambrose from the former Emperor's grasp.
St. Ambrose lived to the age of fifty-seven. He died on Good
Friday in the year 397 from an illness. One of his works, the Te
Deum Laudamus, a hymn praising God, has been incorporated into the
"Office of Readings" which is part of the Liturgy of the Hours
(Various Psalms, Scriptural Readings, Hymns, etc. prayed seven times
a day by the Church). It is sung on major feast days by priests and
religious throughout the world. It has often been referred to as
the "Ambrosian Hymn."
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise You;
You are the Lord: we acclaim You;
You are the Eternal Father: All creation worships You. To You all
angels, all the powers of Heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in
endless praise: Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and Earth are full of Your Glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise You.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise You.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise You.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims You: Father, of majesty
unbounded, Your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the
Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the King of Glory, the Eternal Son of the Father.
When You became man to set us free You did not disdain the Virgin's
womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of
Heaven to all believers. You are seated at God's right hand in
glory. We believe that You will come and be our judge. Come then,
Lord, and help Your people, bought with the price of Your Own Blood,
and bring us with Your saints to glory everlasting.
Save Your people, Lord, and bless Your inheritance. Govern and uphold
them now and always.
Day by day we bless You. We praise Your Name for ever.
Keep us today, Lord, from all sin. Have mercy on us, Lord, have
Lord, show us Your love and mercy; for we put our trust in You. In
You, Lord, is our hope: and we shall never hope in vain. Amen.