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Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy

by PastorMinton on March 25th, 2016

Holy, Holy, Holy

Author: Reginald Heber (1826)
Typical Tune: Nicaea, John B. Dykes (1861)

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HYMN BACKGROUND

Heber was the Bishop of Calcutta from 1823 until his death of a stroke. He wrote 57 hymns, most of which are still in use today, as well as many poems. “Holy, Holy, Holy” is, by far, the most well-known of these hymns. Dykes wrote his tune Nicaea as a setting for this hymn.

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LYRICS

1 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

2 Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

3 Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye made blind by sin Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love and purity.

4 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth & sky & sea.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

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COMMENTARY

This hymn is a wonderfully solemn hymn that simply praises the Trinity. Heber likely wrote this hymn as a setting of the Trisagion (“thrice holy”) or Sanctus in the Divine Service for his bishopric. This hymn has been set as the Hymn of the Day for Trinity Sunday.

With this praise hymn, we bring in the texts of Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4-5. Through these texts, we see the glimpses of Heaven, especially as we see the seraphim and cherubim singing to one another.

As with the placement of the Trisagion or Sanctus in the liturgy, it is in remembrance of God’s Word or of His Supper. We remember and celebrate the Trinity even in the times where God seems hidden. Whether He seems immanently present in our lives or hidden by our sin, we praise God for His care for us. God calls everyone and everything to praise Him for His glory and power.

From → Hymnody

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