Title: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Composer: John Baccus Dykes (10th March, 1823-22nd January, 1876)
Author: Reginald Heber (21st April, 1783-3rd April, 1826)
Written using apocalyptic language, this hymn is closely associated with the scripture text from Revelations 4, which in England's Book of Common Prayer, is marked as the scripture reading for Trinity Sunday. Written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826), in 1826, the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!" was first published in A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for the Parish Church of Banbury, which was published in 1826, the same year of Heber's sudden and unexpected death. Though Heber had passed away, he had nearly 60 hymn texts that he had written. Feeling it was her duty to share the hymns, Heber's wife published his hymn texts posthumously in the collection Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Services of the Year (1827). This collection of Hymns is credited with starting the tradition of arranging the contents of a hymn collection according to the church year (http://www.hymnary.org/text/holy_holy_holy_lord_god_almighty_early, Par. 3).
Born in Malpas, England, it was clear from an early age that Reginald Heber had a gift for versification. Educated at Brasenose College in Oxford, England, Heber was named the Vicar of Hodnet in 1807, where he would remain for 16 years. Heber's time at Hodnet was marked by his literary successes, and his great care for the people as the Parish Priest. While he was in Hodnet, Heber was seen as being halfway in-between a person, and a squire. It was in his years at Hodent that Heber became very infatuated with India, so much so that he had envisioned himself becoming a missionary in Calcutta. Along with being the Vicar in Hodnet, Heber was one of the original staff members of the Quarterly Review; Bampton Lectures (1815), as well as a preacher at Lincoln's Inn (1822). During his time in Hodnet, Heber wrote several hymns, some of which were collected in The Christian Observer (1811-1816), which contained not only hymns of his own, but a few hymns of a close friend of Heber's. The first idea of compiling a hymnal came from The Olney Hymns (Newton, Cowper, 1779), which was noted in a letter written by Heber in 1809. Several years later, the collection was published and was originally meant only for the use of the church in Hodnet. In 1823, several years after the hymnal was published, Heber was named a Missionary in Calcutta, and ordained the first Christian Native, Christian David.
During his first visit to Calcutta, Heber traveled through Bengal, Bombay, and Ceylon, and eventually through Delhi and Lucknow, which is where he was diagnosed with suffering from some type of fever. In his second visit to Calcutta, Heber traveled the scenes of Schwartz's labours in Madras Presidency to Trichonopoly (John Julian, Hymnary.org, par. 1). On April 3rd, 1826, Heber participated in a church service in Trichonopoly where he confirmed 42 people into the faith. It was said that Heber was so moved by the events, that he had no signs of any bodily exhaustion (John Julian, Hymnary.org, par. 1). After Heber finished the service, he retired back to his room where he wrote on the back of his sermon " Trichonopoly, April 3rd, 1826." This would prove to be the last act of Heber's life. After a long absence, one of the servants went to check on the status of Heber, and was surprised to find Heber laying lifeless in his bathtub. Though Heber's life was cut short, he had many successes, both in the world of hymns, and in the world of his Missionary work in Calcutta.
For information on John B, Dykes, see "Searcher of Hearts, From Mine Erase."
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 of sinful man thy glory may not see, only thou art holy; there is none beside thee, perfect in power, in love and purity. 4. 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, blessed Trinity.
My Take on the Hymn:
This hymn is a good example of a hymn of unending praise. Each verse discusses another aspect of God being worshiped. The text coming from Revelations 4 says that there were four creatures seated in front of the throne in Heaven, and each one, day and night, never ceased saying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Like these creatures, it is our duty to worship the triune God with the same reverence as the beasts do in the scripture. Each and every day, we are given the opportunity to make a decision. We can choose who we want to live our lives for, God, or for the things on Earth. The only thing that God asks of us is that we choose to live out all of our days on earth, for Him. Everything that we do on earth, is done by God, for God, and with the help of God!
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Julian, John. "Reginald Heber." - Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.
Psalter, Handbook Hymnal. "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty." Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.
Julian, John. "Nicaea." Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.
Julian, John. "John Bacchus Dykes." - Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.