I just finished a two week course on the history and theology of the Anglican Church. It was simply great. J.I. Packer used to teach the course, and our instructor was someone who had taken the course with Dr. Packer. Having myself taken a Packer course several years ago, I know he always began his class by having everyone stand and sing the Doxology. This flowed out of his conviction that the purpose of theology was for doxology (worship). The instructor for Anglican history and theology had us pray a prayer from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) to start every class: the Te Deum Laudamus (we praise thee O God). Praying that prayer every day, even only for two weeks, made me appreciate the shape of it, particularly how it combines theology and piety, doctrine and devotion. The prayer confesses and acknowledges truth; it is very creedal in both doctrine and shape, following as it does the Apostle's Creed. It also is very biblical, full of quotes and allusions to Scripture. And out of all this doctrinal, confessional and biblical truth, this foundational basis in who God is, this prayer asks our God to help us, to bless us, out of his great mercy. Church tradition says that this prayer was co-written by Ambrose and Augustine on the occasion of Augustine's baptism. Perhaps. What a wonderful prayer to pray on the occasion of a baptism, or just to begin a class period, or a day at work, or a day at home, or for any occasion, or for no occasion at all. What a great prayer to pray simply because God is always truly all that he reveals himself to be and we always need his mercy. (This prayer is intended to be a corporate prayer, so in the BCP, the colons indicate a pause.)
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 do 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 Mercy;
Thine honourable, true: and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.
Thou are the King of Glory: O Christ.
Thou are the everlasting Son: of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man: thou didst not abhor the Virgins 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 then 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.