Te Deum Window
|Te Deum Window
Zion Lutheran Church
The "Te Deum" is an ancient hymn that has been in use in the morning prayers of the church since at least the ninth century. In Luther’s estimation, the Te Deum deserved to be ranked with the creeds of the Christian Church.
The gathering of praise from the heavens and earth around the works of the Lord for us led to the many symbols in this window. In the tradition of such windows, we pray this will serve to uplift, instruct, and beautify the lives of God’s people.
Thank You, To the many parishioners, family, and friends whose gifts given to the glory of God and/or in memory of the following made this window a reality.
Information on the Te Deum Window is also available in this PDF Brochure.
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 cry aloud:
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
These opening verses of the Te Deum focus our attention on the eternal glory of God. The Scroll has the Old Testament name for "Lord", the unpronounceable letters Hebrew YHWH. The right side of the scroll has the world "Sanctus" which is Latin for Holy. This un-ending hymn of "Holy is the Lord" is sung by angels, cherubim and seraphim.
Since all praise is centered on God and His rev-elation of His power, glory, love and mercy through Jesus Christ, the phrase "The Lord is Holy" streams outward from the cross on both sides—Hebrew reads from right to left; Latin from left to right.
Cherubim are angels that appear in Genesis, guarding the way back to Eden; in Psalms, ministering to the Lord; in Exodus, as decorations on the ark of the covenant. At all times, they are in the Lord’s presence, praise Him, and do His bid-ding. The angel on the left is a cherub, represented by two wings as they were on the ark of the covenant.
Seraphim are another rank of angel. In Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah 6), they have six wings. They bring God’s call to Isaiah. With tongs they take the coal from the altar of incense and purify Isaiah’s lips.
The heavens and all their powers are represented by the stars, sun and moon. The moon is turned to reflect the greater light, just as we reflect the greater light of God’s love in our pale reflections of that light to others.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
There are several rivers of light flowing to and from the middle of the window. The first is purple, a deeper, darker color. On this river are the symbols for the goodly fellowship of the prophets.
Moses is represented by the tablets of the law; David by the six-sided star; Isaiah by the scroll; and Elijah by the fiery chariot. The symbols chronologically lead up to Christ; disciples and martyrs flow outward.
The river on the right is golden, symbolizing the crowns of the Noble army of Martyrs. Depicted here are Stephen, stoned to death as the first martyr while Paul watched the coats, Jan Hus who translated the Bible into German ("Hus" means "swan") and Luther. While Luther was not killed for the faith, his life was put on the line for the faith.
The middle two rivers of light are green, the color of new life as Christ’s "glorious company of the Apostles" spread the news of Christ’s glorious victory over death. Sadly, many of their symbols are reminders of how these agents of life met their death.
Tradition holds that Andrew, the first disciple called (John 1:40), met his death on a cross in the shape of an "X."
James the greater, an early missionary of the church, is represented by three baptismal shells.
Bartholomew met his death by being flayed alive; hence the knives.
Philip’s comment about the loaves at the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:5-7) leads him to be represented by the loaves along side the cross here.
James the Less is represented by a saw, reputed to have been sawn in two at his martyrdom.
Thomas built a church with his own hands in India, hence the square. Later, a pagan priest speared him
Peter is represented by the crossed keys.
In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells Peter that the keys of the kingdom have been given to him.
John’s poisonous chalice left him unharmed; he alone died of natural causes, in exile. (St. John the Evangelist has an Eagle as his emblem; as a disciple this is his symbol.)
Matthias, the last apostle, cho-sen by lot to replace Judas
(Acts 1:23-26). Tradition holds that he was beheaded with a battleaxe.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The first emanation from the cross details the growth of the church throughout the world. The world does indeed include Omaha, NE.
At Rome, Paul preached, the church grew and met some of her fiercest persecution. Although the coliseum may not seem like the most glorious symbol to include here, the witness of the many Christians put to death there led many to the glory of the church eternal in Christ’s name.
The Corinthian column reminds us of the glory of the cosmopolitan city center of Paul’s day. His words to them echo to us of self-control, of duty to others, and to the faithful use of God’s gifts of faith, hope and love in our lives.
The Father of an infinite Majesty;
Thine adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
The second emanation is a hymn of praise to the Triune God and their work of salvation in Christ.
The heavenly hand of blessing comes down from above. It is a right hand after the many references in the Bible to the "Lord’s right hand" as in Psalm 118:15-16, "The LORD's right hand has done mighty things! The LORD's right hand is lifted high; the LORD's right hand has done mighty things!"
|The Chi-Rho stands for the everlasting Son. Thy symbols comes from the first two letters of "Christ" in Greek. The Kingship of Christ fulfills the type of King David and is from everlasting to ever-lasting. The placement of base of the Chi-Rho near David’s star and the crown and scepter to be referenced later in the hymn reflect the teaching of the last two lines of the hymn above.|
The dove and flames stand for the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The dove comes from the Baptism of Christ where the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus as a dove (Matthew 3:16); the flames from Pentecost when the Spirit was given to the Twelve.
When Thou tookest upon thee to de-liver man Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death
Thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
The life of Christ continues the second emanation, showing why our Triune God exists: To save us through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ the Lord.
The cradle represents Christ’s virgin birth; the crown of thorns the sharpness of death; and the phoenix rising from the flames the overcoming of His death which opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers. The bird’s right wing breaks the chains in the Martyrs’ river of light as the phoenix looks on victoriously.
Note that only two symbols cross over the divisions in the windows: the Chi-Rho and Crown of Thorns. Just as the symbols permeate the center of the middle sections of the windows, Christ crucified is central in our teaching as St. Paul says, "We preach Christ crucified ... the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor 1:23)
|Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the grave give Him the crown above all crowns and the scepter—that symbol of a king’s power—that enables Him to subdue all things to Himself. The Father’s right hand, just over this symbol, appears to bless this reign!
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
When Christ shall come to judge the living and the dead, the scales will be perfectly balanced—the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. Nothing more needs to be added. The final judgment is just that—FINAL!
|We therefore pray thee, help thy servants
"Let my prayer be set before you like incense; the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." (Ps. 141:2) The cen-ser with smoke ascending to heaven is an ancient symbol of prayer.
Remember it was at the evening prayer, with Isaiah burning incense, when the seraphim came to him with the "Holy is the Lord" hymn depicted in the top two sec-tions of this window!
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
The Lamb who was slain has be-gun His reign! The Agnus Dei, combined with the Vexilla Regis (Royal Banner) with the blood of the sacrifice pouring out into the chalice has been an ancient symbol of the church for the reception of Christ’s grace in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
|Make them to be numbered with thy Saints
In Revelation 21:27, the re-deemed are spoken of as having their names written in the Lamb’s book of life. In Rev. 5:1 that book is said to be sealed with seven seals that only the Lamb Himself could open. That book (with the Agnus Dei on top) was the decoration on Zion’s first altar. We wanted to include that in our window.
in glory everlasting.
Ah, yes! At last! The BARN! What a fitting Biblical (Luke 3:17, others) symbol, we believe, as we look over Omaha’s harvest fields from the Lakeview Room, of the Biblical image of gathering in the harvest into God’s garner evermore.
"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9:37-38)
To the many parishioners, family, and friends whose gifts given to the glory of God and/or in memory of the following made this window a reality:
Willis A. Witt
Malvin and Elaine Witt
Design and Memorial Display in memory of
Rev. Thomas K. Schmitt
of Classic Art Glass, Omaha, Nebraska
Commentary: Rev. Schmitt
Photography: Patricia Huels