The Athanasian Creed was not written by St. Athanasius, the defender of the doctrine of the Trinity at the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). It seems to have been written about a hundred years later. This creed expands the teaching of the Trinity, and seems to draw from a work by St. Augustine, On the Trinity, from AD 415. The oldest surviving manuscripts of the Athanasian Creed date from the late 8th century. One scholar commented that it reads like the minutes of the Council of Nicaea, with the arguments for the Trinity being presented, and the arguments against it (some repetitive and petulant) being refuted.
The use of the word catholic (note the small c) is referring to the universal Christian faith taught in the scriptures and believed by the Christian faithful.
Traditionally the Athanasian Creed was used in the early morning office of Prime in place of the psalm during the Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Pentecost, including Trinity Sunday. Today the Athanasian Creed is sometimes used on Trinity Sunday.
1 Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith.
2 Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.
3 Now this is the catholic faith:
4 We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.
5 For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another.
6 But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty.
7 What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit.
8 Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit.
9 The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite.
10 Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit.
11 And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal;
12 as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.
13 Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit:
14 And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty.
15 Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God:
16 And yet there are not three gods, but one God.
17 Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord:
18 And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.
19 As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.
20 The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten;
21 the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father;
22 the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.
23 Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.
24 And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other;
25 but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.
26 Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.
27 It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh.
28 For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and man.
29 He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother —
30 existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body;
31 equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.
32 Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ.
33 He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity
34 He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures.
35 For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.
36 He suffered death for our salvation. He descended into hell and rose again from the dead.
37 He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
38 At his coming all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds.
39 Those who have done good will enter eternal life, those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.
40 This is the catholic faith. One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.
Quicumque vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est, ut teneat catholicam fidem: Quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit, absque dubio in aeternum peribit.
Fides autem catholica haec est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in unitate veneremur. Neque confundentes personas, neque substantiam separantes.
Alia est enim persona Patris alia Filii, alia Spiritus Sancti: Sed Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas, aequalis gloria, coeterna maiestas.
Qualis Pater, talis Filius, talis [et] Spiritus Sanctus.
Increatus Pater, increatus Filius, increatus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.
Immensus Pater, immensus Filius, immensus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.
Aeternus Pater, aeternus Filius, aeternus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres aeterni, sed unus aeternus. Sicut non tres increati, nec tres immensi, sed unus increatus, et unus immensus.
Similiter omnipotens Pater, omnipotens Filius, omnipotens [et] Spiritus Sanctus. Et tamen non tres omnipotentes, sed unus omnipotens.
Ita Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus [et] Spiritus Sanctus. Et tamen non tres dii, sed unus est Deus.
Ita Dominus Pater, Dominus Filius, Dominus [et] Spiritus Sanctus. Et tamen non tres Domini, sed unus [est] Dominus.
Quia, sicut singillatim unamquamque personam Deum ac Dominum confiteri christiana veritate compellimur: Ita tres Deos aut [tres] Dominos dicere catholica religione prohibemur.
Pater a nullo est factus: nec creatus, nec genitus. Filius a Patre solo est: non factus, nec creatus, sed genitus. Spiritus Sanctus a Patre et Filio: non factus, nec creatus, nec genitus, sed procedens.
Unus ergo Pater, non tres Patres: unus Filius, non tres Filii: unus Spiritus Sanctus, non tres Spiritus Sancti.
Et in hac Trinitate nihil prius aut posterius, nihil maius aut minus: Sed totae tres personae coaeternae sibi sunt et coaequales. Ita, ut per omnia, sicut iam supra dictum est, et unitas in Trinitate, et Trinitas in unitate veneranda sit.
Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat.
Sed necessarium est ad aeternam salutem, ut incarnationem quoque Domini nostri Iesu Christi fideliter credat.
Est ergo fides recta ut credamus et confiteamur, quia Dominus noster Iesus Christus, Dei Filius, Deus [pariter] et homo est.
Deus [est] ex substantia Patris ante saecula genitus: et homo est ex substantia matris in saeculo natus. Perfectus Deus, perfectus homo: ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistens. Aequalis Patri secundum divinitatem: minor Patre secundum humanitatem.
Qui licet Deus sit et homo, non duo tamen, sed unus est Christus. Unus autem non conversione divinitatis in carnem, sed assumptione humanitatis in Deum. Unus omnino, non confusione substantiae, sed unitate personae. Nam sicut anima rationalis et caro unus est homo: ita Deus et homo unus est Christus.
Qui passus est pro salute nostra:
descendit ad inferos:
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis.
Ascendit ad [in] caelos, sedet ad dexteram [Dei] Patris [omnipotentis].
Inde venturus [est] judicare vivos et mortuos.
Ad cujus adventum omnes homines resurgere habent cum corporibus suis; Et reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem. Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam aeternam: qui vero mala, in ignem aeternum.
Haec est fides catholica, quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit, salvus esse non poterit.
O Lord my God, most merciful,
most secret, most present,
most constant, yet changing all things,
never new, and never old,
always in action, yet always quiet,
creating, upholding, and perfecting all,
who has anything but what you have given?
or what can any man say when he speaks about you?
Yet have mercy on us, O Lord,
that we may speak to you, and praise your Name.
Source: Jeremy Taylor, 1613–67 (from St Augustine) in in Daily Prayer.
Taylor’s version, in traditional English:
O LORD my God, most merciful,
Most secret, most present,
Most constant, yet changing all things,
Never new, and never old,
Ever in action, yet ever quiet,
Creating, upholding, and perfecting all,
Who hath anything but of thy gift?
Or what can any man say when he speaketh of thee?
Yet have mercy upon us, O Lord,
that we may speak unto thee, and praise thy Name.
Grant me, even me, my dearest Lord,
to know you, and love you, and rejoice in you.
And, if I cannot do these perfectly in this life,
let me at least advance to higher degrees every day,
until I can come to do them in perfection.
Let the knowledge of you increase in me here,
that it may be full hereafter.
Let the love of you grow every day more and more here,
that it may be perfect hereafter;
that my joy may be full in you.
I know, O God, that you are a God of truth,
O make good your gracious promises to me,
that my joy may be full;
to your honor and glory,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
O Holy Spirit, Love of God,
pour out your grace,
and descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling,
and scatter there your cheerful beams.
Dwell in that soul that longs to be your temple.
Water that barren soil, overrun with weeds and briars,
and lost for lack of cultivating,
and make it fruitful with your dew from heaven.
Come, refreshment of those who languish and faint.
Come, Star and Guide of those who sail in the tempestuous sea of the world. You are the only Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked.
Come, Glory and Crown of the living, and only Safeguard of the dying.
Come, Holy Spirit, in your great mercy, and make me fit to receive you. Amen.
O Lord our God,
let us find hope under the shadow of your wings.
You will support us,
both when little,
and even to gray hairs.
When our strength is from you, it is strength.
When our own, it is weakness.
We return to you, O Lord,
that our weary souls may rise towards you,
leaning on the things which you have created,
and passing on to yourself,
since you have wonderfully made them;
for with you is refreshment and true strength. Amen.
O how will I call on God,
my God and Lord,
since when I call for him,
I will be calling him into myself?
And what room is there within me,
where my God can come into me?
Where can God come into me,
God who made heaven and earth?
Is there, indeed,
O Lord my God,
anything in me that can contain you?
Do then, heaven and earth,
which you have made,
and in which you have made me,
Or because nothing which exists could exist without you,
does therefore whatever exists contain you?
Since then I too exist,
why do I seek that you should enter me.
I would not be if you were not in me.
Why? Because I am not gone down in hell,
and yet you are there also.
For if I go down into hell,
you are there.
I could not be then,
O my God,
could not be at all,
if you were not in me;
unless I were in you,
of whom are all things,
by whom are all things,
in whom are all things!
Even so, Lord, even so.
From where should I call you,
since I am in you?
Or where can you enter me?
For where can I go beyond heaven and earth,
that there my God should come into me,
who has said, “I fill the heaven and the earth”?
the vessels which you fill do not contain you,
since though we were broken,
you were not poured out.
You are not cast down,
but you uplift us.
You are not scattered,
but you gather us…. Amen.
O let the Light,
the Light of my heart,
not my own darkness,
speak to me.
I fell off into that,
and became darkened;
but even then,
even then I loved you.
I went astray, but remembered you.
I heard your voice behind me,
calling me to return,
but scarcely heard it,
through the raging of the enemies of peace.
I return in distress and panting after your fountain.
Let no one forbid me!
I will drink of this and live.
Do not let me regard my life as my own.
For myself, I lived ill.
I was death to myself,
but I revive in you.
Do you speak to me,
do you communicate with me?
I have believed your Books,
and their words are most full of mystery. Amen.
We ask not of you, O Father,
silver and gold,
honor and glory,
nor the pleasures of the world.
Grant us grace to seek your Kingdom
and your righteousness,
and give us what we need for body and life.
Behold, O Lord, our desire.
May it be pleasing in your sight.
We present our petition to you through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is at your right hand,
our mediator and Advocate,
through whom you sought us that we might seek you;
your Word, through whom you made us and all things;
your only Son, through whom you call us to adoption,
who intercedes with you for us,
and in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;
to him, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be all honor, praise, and glory, now and forever. Amen.