The Athanasian Creed includes the most useful statement of the orthodox understanding of the Trinity we have
As the half-dozen or so readers of my little Trinity book will know already, I’m convinced that the doctrine’s essentials can be stated (and understood!) in very clear and simple terms. They will also know that the writer of the Athanasian Creed was in full agreement.
The Athanasian Creed, originating perhaps in the 6th Century (and thus not by Athanasius), is one of western Christianity’s creedal Greatest Hits. Sadly, unlike its only peers the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, the (admittedly rather long) Athanasian Creed is no longer widely known. This is a shame for many reasons, not least the fact that it includes the most useful statement of the orthodox understanding of the Trinity we have.
Ever eager to render service unto the People of God, and mindful of the catchiness of those modern hymns all the young folks are raving about, I therefore give you… a (dynamically equivalent) rendering of the first section of the Athanasian Creed, to the tune of that perennial liturgical favourite Autumn Days – preserving, I think, the spirit of each.
Whomsoever wishes to be saved,
Must above all keep the Catholic Faith.
Each must keep it whole and undefiled,
Else be damned eternally!
Keep the Catholic Faith,
Keep the Catholic Faith,
Lest be damned eternally,
Keep the Catholic Faith!
We worship one God, albeit in Trinity
(A Trinity in Unity).
Neither must we confound the three Persons,
Nor divide the one essence!
For there is one Person of the Father,
And another of the Son,
And another of the Holy Spirit,
Though their Godhead equals one!
The Glory of the three Persons is equal;
Their majesty, coeternal.
Just as the Father is, so’s the Son,
And so is the Spirit!
Father, Son, and Spirit: uncreated.
And the three, they’re all unlimited.
So too are the three all eternal,
And each is almighty!
Yet not three uncreateds or unlimiteds,
There are likewise not three eternals.
Neither are there triplicate almighties.
For there’s only one of each!
The Father, he is God full and entire,
The Son also is really God,
Truly God too is the Holy Spirit,
But there’s only just one God!
The Father, he’s correctly named as “Lord”,
So too should the Son be so called.
The Holy Spirit, he is Lord as well.
Nonetheless the Lord is One!
The Father’s not created or begotten,
While the Son’s not made, but born from him.
The Spirit’s both unborn and uncreated;
He’s instead said “to proceed”!
There’s one Father: he is not in triplicate,
There’s a lone Son, and not three of them.
The Holy Spirit, there is only one of him,
And not three cloned triplets!
In this Trinity none has priority,
And none lags behind the rest.
Between them there is no superiority,
And none’s any the less!
All three are coequal and coeternal,
And in all things are to be worshipped.
United, they’re a Unity in Trinity,
And the same holds vice versa!
He (or she) who therefore is desirous,
Of gaining eternal Bliss,
Should, when thinking of the Holy Trinity,
Be mindful of all this!