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O Deus, ego amo te

My God, I love Thee, not because

The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

  1. O Deus, ego amo te,
    Nec amo te, ut salves me,
    Aut, quia non amantes te
    Æterno punis igne.
  2. Tu, tu, mi Jesu, totum me
    Amplexus es in cruce;
    Tuliste clavos, lanceam,
    Multamque ignominiam,
  3. Innumeros dolores,
    Sudores, et angores,
    Et mortem, et hæc propter me,
    Ac pro me peccatore.
  4. Cur igitur non amem te,
    O Jesu amantissime,
    Non, ut in cœlo salves me,
    Aut ne æternum damnes me,
  5. Nec præmii ullius spe;
    Sed sicut tu amasti me?
    Sic amo et amabo te,
    Solum quia Rex meus es,
    Et solum, quia Deus es.
  1. My God, I love Thee, not because
    I hope for heaven thereby;
    Nor yet since they who love Thee not
    Must burn eternally.
  2. Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
    Upon the Cross embrace;
    For me didst bear the nails and spear,
    And manifold disgrace;
  3. And griefs and torments numberless,
    And sweat of agony;
    E’en death itself; and all for one
    Who was Thine enemy.
  4. Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
    Should I not love Thee well,
    Not for the sake of winning heaven,
    Or of escaping hell;
  5. Not with the hope of gaining aught,
    Not seeking a reward;
    But as Thyself hast loved me,
    O ever-loving Lord?
  6. E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
    And in Thy praise will sing,
    Solely because Thou art my God,
    And my eternal King.
Author: St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552). “It seems fairly certain that the original was a Spanish or Portuguese sonnet, and was written by St. Francis Xavier in the East Indies about 1546” (Dict. of Hymnology, p. 1679). There are several Latin versions; the author of the above version is not known. Meter: Iambic dimeter. Translation by Father Caswall. There are about twenty-five translations.

Although this hymn is not found in the Breviary or Missal it is deservedly very popular. There is an article on O Deus ego amo te in the Cath. Encycl. The article treats of two Latin hymns beginning with the same first line; both hymns are attributed to St. Francis Xavier. Of these hymns Dr. Duffield says: “They are transfused and shot through by a personal sense of absorption into the divine love, which has fused and crystallized them in its fiercest heat.” And to their author, he pays this beautiful tribute: “It is impossible to study his life without a conviction there was in it a devout and gallant purpose to bless the world ... And in the two hymns which bear his name we are able to discover that fine attar which is the precious residuum of many crushed and fragrant aspirations, which grew above the thorns of sharp trial and were strewn at last upon the wind-swept beach of that poor Pisgah island from which he truly beheld the distant Land” (Latin Hymn-Writers and Their Hymns, pp. 298-315). The hymn offers no difficulty to the translator.