The Nicene Creed was written at the Council of Nicea in A. D. 325, and completed in close to its present form at the Council of Constantinople in A. D. 381. (Sometimes it is called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.) It was written as a response to confusion about the doctrines of the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ as God and man. It draws heavily from Scripture. You can see a reflection of John chapter 1 in the second article about the dual nature of Christ. It has always been used as a creed of the church, and so it begins “We believe.” The Apostles’ Creed was originally a personal confession of faith at a person’s baptism, and so it begins “I believe.” The Nicene Creed is a part of the Divine Service as the congregation’s response to the Word. “We have heard… and so, we believe.” Later translations changed the first words of each article to the singular “I,” but modern practice has been to return to the original wording and intent of the creed as the confession of the assembled church.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became fully human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who in unity with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Source: English Language Liturgical Consultation, altered slightly.
Below is the text from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
I BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.
Although this is a confession of faith and a doctrinal statement, the Nicene Creed has been set to music. Here it is in Latin as a Gregorian Chant:
Here it is, also in Latin, from Mass in C by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Since the Reformation, it was the practice in Germany to sing the Creed in the form of a hymn. Here is Luther’s ‘Wir glauben all an einen Gott, Vater…”