The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Of mary a mayde withowt lesyng
Te deum Laudamus

Words: James Ryman, Order of Friars Minor (ca. 1492)

Te deum Laudamus
te dominum confitemur

Of mary a mayde with-owt lesyng
This day was borne a worthy kyng
Therfor with Ioy now lett vs syng
    Te deum Laudamus &c

Of Iessis rote ther sprang a flowr
That is moste swetist in odure
Syng we to hym with great honour
    Te deum Laudamus &c

On Christmas day that child borne was
Man to redeme for owr trespase
Therfor syng we both more & lesse
    Te deum Laudamus &c

On good fryday that childe wold dy
ffor owr trespace & owr folye
syng we to hym that sittith on hy
    Te deum Laudamus &c

On the third day he rose fulle ryght
and harrowed hell by his great myght
sing we to hym bothe day & nyght
    Te deum Laudamus &c

The gatis of heuyn they oponed abrode
By the vertue of that blyssid lord
Syng we to hym with one accord
    Te deum Laudamus &c

Pray we all to that lord of grace
That we may cume in-to that place
To syng with Ioy before his face
    Te deum Laudamus &c

Note: This is one of the four "Bradshaw" carols, discovered in the papers of Henry Bradshaw; the papers are at Cambridge University Library and are classified as MS. Add. 7350. The other Christmas-related carol has as the first line of its first verse: The ffather of heuyn from aboue. It has the same burden as this carol. The other two carols are described as of being of a ribald nature. See: Rossell Hope Robbins, "The Bradshaw Carols." PLMA, the Journal of the Modern Language Association, June 1966, Vol. 81, No. 3, pp. 308-310. See, generally, Rossell Hope Robbins, ed., Early English Christmas Carols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961. For additional information about Mr. Robbins (1912-1990) see: Russell A. Peck and Rosemary Paprocki, Rossell Hope Robbins. University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries, Rossell Hope Robbins Library. Last updated November 30, 2005. Accessed 19 March 2006. URL: http://www.library.rochester.edu/index.cfm?PAGE=303 Page opens in a new window at an exterior location.

Editor's Note:

The burden of this carol

Te deum Laudamus
    te dominum confitemur

is the opening words of the ancient Christian song of praise, Te Deum laudámus (often just "Te Deum"), often referred to as the Ambrosian Hymn, and originally attributed to Saint Ambrose (c. 340 – 4 April 397) and Saint Augustine (354-430). It is now credited to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (4th century).

The phrase is translated as

O God, we praise Thee:
    we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.

See Te Deum in the Thesaurus Precum Latinarum at the Treasury of Latin Prayers. Also see Te Deum at EWTN.

The Book of Common Prayer translates the Burden as:

We praise thee, O God :
    we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.

The Te Deum is regularly recited in the Daily Office in the Roman Catholic Church, and is sung at celebrations in the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and some Lutheran Churches.

See the Wikipedia article at Te Deum.

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