The Hymnbook Series: Holy, Holy, Holy

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Holy, Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning, our song shall rise to Thee. These familiar words may resonate memories of church song services from days of old. This classic hymn was actually written circa early 1800’s by Reginald Heber (1783-1826). Reginald became vicar of his parish in England and later the Bishop of Calcutta. It was his ambition to improve the song service of the church and therefore music was a large concentration of his ministry. Reginald was a member of the Romantic era in history and friends with many of the poetic revolutionaries of that time in history.  Heber was also known for his poetic abilities.
Heber penned Holy, Holy, Holy specifically to be sung on Trinity Sunday. Heber used the book of Revelations 4:8-11 as his inspiration for the triple repetition of Holy.
 
Revelations 4:8-11
8 ¶ And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. 
 
 
The triplicate use of Holy is also a juxtaposition of the lyrics with the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. In the current century Holy, Holy, Holy is still sung on Communion Sunday. Hymns tend to survive the ages due to the relationship and depth of emotion between the words and the congregation.
 
Reginald Heber died at the age of forty-three. After preaching a sermon on the evils of the caste system, he went swimming alone. He was later found drowned apparently as the result of having a stroke on April 3, 1826. Heber was honored in 1875 by the Prince of Wales for his contributions to literature and music.
 

Holy Holy Holy

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, blessèd Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

 
Read more about The English Hymn on Kindle or in print. Also learn more about 
The Hymbook Series: Amazing Grace as we continue our journey through classic hymns.

 

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One Comment

  1. Very interesting backstory into this song and the life of Heber. He accomplished a lot in such a short life. Becoming the bishop of Calcutta says a lot for his wisdom and spiritual maturity as such a young man.

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