Sunday, June 14, 2009

Praise to the Lord (and a bit of Latin)

This Sunday we continued our way through the creed, reaching the Latin word omnipotentem. It's such a great word: omni, meaning all, and potent, meaning power or ability. Compare it with stem cells that are called pluripotent (having many powers/abilities) or ambassadors who are said to be plenipotent (full of power/abilities - at least we hope the best ones are). Only God is described as all-powerful, a semantic distinction that I think is both meaningful and purposeful. Isn't it fun seeing your vocabulary grow at church? And now we can all confidently recognize the opening words of the Creed: Credo in unum deum, pater omnipotentem.

In less geeky matters, I've been humming "Prase to the Lord, the Almighty" to myself all day. It's such a lyrical, singable hymn that can brighten an entire day. You may have noticed a moment in verse 4 where I played unison melody for the text "Let the Amen, sound from his people again." It's one of my favorite moments because it reminds me of the St. Olaf Choir singing F. Melius Christiansen's arrangement of the hymn.

I found a YouTube video of a very good high school choir singing that arrangement. (Apparently St. Olaf has taken down some videos due to copyright, so I couldn't find one of them.) It's about 4 minutes long, and I guarantee it will lift your spirits to hear it - and maybe even sing along.


  1. Rev. Robert FerroJune 15, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    Next, we are going to start doing the Confession in Latin: "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa."

  2. Rev. Robert FerroJune 15, 2009 at 3:40 PM

    Actually you've posted the beginning of the Latin Nicene Creed. The Latin of the Apostles' Creed reads, "Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem." Not much change for the beginning, but there will be major changes between the two as we continue.

  3. Mea culpa on the "pater" vs. "patrem" - just a silly Latin typo. I had also forgotten the one word difference in the opening line, thinking them identical. Musicians usually learn the Nicene Creed, which is my only excuse for such a careless error. Mea maxima culpa.

  4. Rev. Robert FerroJune 20, 2009 at 11:25 AM

    One of my favorite parts of the movie "Life of Brian" is when the Roman soldier encounters Brian trying to write "Romans Go Home" in Latin, and corrects his Latin grammar. Once Brian gets it right, he has to write it 100 times. Too many painful memories of language classes.

  5. Omnipotentem, in any language, is not about what God could do, but that S/He acts through ALL things. In a previous response, I encouraged everyone to look around and see God's work. Another source says that the real world and the scriptures need to interpret each other: that God is Works and Word. I know that Lutherans like the "sole fide" idea, but when we see works as coming from God, they take on a whole new meaning. Or, as the Dakota might say, "mitakawe oyasin," all things are related in God