Sunday, November 29, 2009

Singing the Apostles Creed: The Early Years

Over at, there are music posts every Friday.  Last Friday featured a blast from the 80's past, "Creed" by Petra.  Of course I asked about the Rich Mullens' "Creed".  JW noted he knew of Petra because of his dad, but had not been exposed to much Rich Mullens.

This led to some thinking on my part, and this post featuring non-traditional settings of this historic creed.  Now it's turned into a two-part series (potentially three).


In the second article, the ICET text states, "He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit."  The correct translation is "Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit." 

Latin word order differs significantly from English, and articles are rarely used, but here is the direct translation. 

     qui  conceptus est   de    Spiritu Sancto
     who  was conceived  by/of   Spirit  Holy

The use of the term "catholic," i.e. "the holy catholic church" refers to the "universal" church, the church of all times and all places, and does not refer to any particular denomination.

     sanctam   Ecclesiam      catholicam
     holy       Church    universal/catholic

The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship and Lutheran Service Book chose to translate the phrase as "holy Christian Church."

Here is a guy giving us the Latin text, first spoken and then chanted.  A couple things: yes that is a rosary (I give no endorsement to this practice) and no, this is not the best way to chant.  The video is a tutorial for learning Latin, so each note of the chant is given a succinct beat.

Moving ahead a few hundred years, here is a choral version.  If it sounds to your English ear that the text picks up in the middle of a thought, that is because it does!  During this time, a cantor would intone the first phrase, and the choir would continue with the rest of the creed.

Cantor: Credo in Deum
        I believe in God

Choir: Patrem omnipotentem, 
            Creatorem caeli et terra...
       the Father almighty, 
            Creator of heaven and earth...

I am not sure of the composer of this setting, but I would place it in the later middle ages, possibly very early Renaissance era.

In the next post, English versions, both spoken and sung.