The Church has continued the biblical custom of concluding prayers with a short, hymnlike expression of praise to God.
Sometimes we find a simple laudatory acclamation to God without distinction of Persons. The Didache, for instance, concludes the Lord's Prayer with the doxology: "For Thine is the power and the glory evermore" (8.2) and it employs this formula as a refrain in liturgical prayers: "To Thee be glory forever" (9.2). Sometimes it is directed immediately to Jesus Christ: "Hosanna deo David" (Didache 10.6). Similar doxologies are found in the Martyrdom of Polycarp (20.2; 21), the Epistle of Barnabas (12.7), and the First Epistle of Clement (c.20).
The basic form of the ancient Christian doxology used by the Fathers and the liturgy depicted Christ as the source of the Father's glorification in the Spirit: "Glory be to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit" (Didache, 9.4; Clement of Alexandria, Quis dives, 42.2; Origen, De oratione, 33). Since supporters of arianism used the phrase "through the Son" as a slogan of their sub ordinationism making the Son inferior to the Father, the leaders of the Catholic camp at Antioch (4th century) sponsored the use of the formula, "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit." This formula was derived from the baptismal formula (Mt 28.19), which expressed clearly the equality of the three Divine Persons (J. A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, 1:328). Thus this Little Doxology, as it is called, came to be used in the conclusion of psalms and elsewhere.
Every eucharistic prayer of the Mass concludes with a Trinitarian doxology that retains the emphasis on Christ's mediatorship: "Through Him [Christ], and with Him, and in Him, all honor and glory is given to You, God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen." This practice of summarizing the whole thematic upsweep of the Eucharistic Prayer— glorifying the Father through the Son's redemptive work in the Spirit—can be found as early as the 3rd century Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (6; B. Botte, ed. La Tradition apostolique de saint Hippolyte: Essai de reconstitution (Liturgiegeschichtliche Quellen und Forschungen 39; 1963, 18). But Hippolytus adds "in Thy holy Church," thus indicating the earthly basis or vehicle of Christ's continued glorification of His Father.
The gloria in excelsis Deo is known as the Greater Doxology. Its author is unknown. It includes three parts:(1) the song of the angels at the Nativity (Lk 2.14), (2) praise of God the Father, and (3) an invocation of Christ with mention of the Holy Spirit. By the 6th century, the Gloria had been firmly established in the Roman Mass for some time [Liber pontificalis, ed. L. Duchesne, v. 1–2 (Paris 1886–92), v. 3 (Paris 1958) 1:56]. The te deum is an extended doxology. It seems to be the work, not of St. Ambrose or St. Augustine, but of Niceta of Remesiana (d. 414), who apparently brought several different hymns together and fashioned them into one. The Te decet laus is a brief Trinitarian acclamation. It was prescribed by the Rule of St. Benedict (Reg. Monast. c.11), but it has disappeared from the Roman liturgy.
See Also: doxology, biblical; trisagion.
Bibliography: j. a. jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, tr. f. a. brunner, 2 v. (New York 1951–55) 1:328, 346–359. a. gerhards, "La doxologie, un chapitre définitif de l'histoire du dogme," in Trinité et Liturgie (Rome 1984) 103–118. a. nocent, "Les doxologies des prières eucharistiques," in Gratias Agamus (Freiburg 1992) 343–353. g. ramshaw-schmidt, "Our Final Praise: The Concluding Doxology," in New Eucharistic Prayers, ed. f. senn (Mahwah, N.J. 1987) 210–213.
[e. j. gratsch/eds.]