540

Holy God, We Praise Your Name

Full Text

1 Holy God, we praise your name;
Lord of all, we bow before you.
Saints on earth your rule acclaim;
all in heaven above adore you.
Infinite your vast domain;
everlasting is your reign.

2 Hark, the glad celestial hymn
angel choirs above are raising;
cherubim and seraphim,
in unceasing chorus praising,
fill the heavens with sweet accord:
“Holy, holy, holy Lord!”

3 Lo, the apostolic train
joins your sacred name to hallow;
prophets swell the glad refrain,
and the white-robed martyrs follow;
and from morn to set of sun,
through the church the song goes on.

4 Holy Father, holy Son,
Holy Spirit, three we name you,
though in essence only one;
undivided God, we claim you,
and, adoring, bend the knee
while we own the mystery.

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The Psalter Hymnal includes Walworth's stanzas 1-4, which cover only the first half of the "Te Deum." We and all creation praise our God and Lord (st. 1); all the angels sing their praise to God (st. 2); saints in heaven and the church on earth praise God (st. 3); we praise the triune God (st. 4). The two halves of this part of the "Te Deum" are carefully balanced: stanza 2 ends with the angels' threefold Sanctus; stanza 4 concludes with a Gloria Patri.

 

Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

What we know as the attributes of God reveal his character and being. For these, he is worthy of praise and adoration. Even before he says or does anything, he is praise-worthy. The opening words of Belgic Confession, Article 1 declare that God is “eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.”

 

The Lord’s Prayer ends with a doxology, and Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 128 extrapolates: “Your holy name…should receive all the praise, forever.” After expressing our trust in the total care of God for all things, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 declares, “God is able to do this because he is Almighty God and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.” And so we express our praise and adoration to God for who he is.

540

Holy God, We Praise Your Name

Call to Worship

Holy, holy, holy God,
we worship and adore you—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Today in our worship we long for a glimpse of your glory,
seen perfectly in Christ, our Lord.
As we worship, may we gain new insight
about the mystery and wonder of your love.
And may we sense new ways to mirror that love in our world,
through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

I looked, and there was a great multitude
that no one could count, from every nation,
from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God
who is seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb!”
Today our voices join this ongoing heavenly hymn of praise.
In Jesus’ name, let us worship God.
—based on Revelation 7:9-10, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Words of Praise

Blessed are you, Lord our God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Your glory is beyond our comprehension.
Your mercy is greater than our sinfulness.
Your love is more than we can measure.
Your wisdom is more than we can fathom.
To you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be all glory, honor, and praise
now and forevermore. Amen.
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

In keeping with this truth and Word of God
we believe in one God, who is one single essence,
in whom there are three persons,
really, truly, and eternally distinct
according to their incommunicable properties—
namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Father is the cause, origin,
and source of all things, visible as well as invisible.
The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father.
The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might,
proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Nevertheless, this distinction does not divide God into three,
since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
each has his own subsistence distinguished by characteristics—
yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God.
It is evident then that the Father is not the Son
and that the Son is not the Father,
and that likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son.
Nevertheless, these persons, thus distinct, are neither divided
nor fused or mixed together.
For the Father did not take on flesh, nor did the Spirit, but only the Son.
The Father was never without his Son, nor without his Holy Spirit,
since all these are equal from eternity, in one and the same essence.
There is neither a first nor a last, for all three are one
in truth and power, in goodness and mercy.
—Belgic Confession, Art. 8
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
540

Holy God, We Praise Your Name

Tune Information

Name
GROSSER GOTT
Key
F Major
Meter
7.8.7.8.7.7

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

This hymn works well as a choral processional at the opening of the service. In the early church, the people sang as the faithful brought gifts to the altar for consecration. Today the processional hymn can add drama to the opening and closing of worship.
 
Symbolically, the choir represents the entire congregation coming into God's presence to bring adoration to God in song. It is both corporate and individual. Yes, we unite our voices in one glorious sound, but we also use that most personal signature of who we are, the human voice! Instead of aimlessly sauntering to the choir chancel area during the organ prelude, the choir moves from the "world" into God's house in an orderly dignified fashion, singing in unison. Ideally the choir should also recess on the closing hymn in order to complete the symbolic nature of this drama (moving back into the world for Christian service). This kind of processional signifies the true function of a church choir—a body that leads people in singing hymns rather than merely performing elaborate church music.
 
The following fine choral, congregational, and organ resources are available for use with this hymn:
  • Donald Busarow's arrangement for choir, congregation, brass quartet and organ is in the key of G, which I favor for its brighter quality. It begins in unison and alternates choir and congregation, ending with a powerful final stanza with descant and fortissimo instruments. The only potential drawback is a very long instrumental introduction and other interludes that demand congregational cues (CPH 98-2530).
  • Roy Ringwald's setting can be adapted for use with the congregation but is really more effective as an anthem. It features alternating male and female verses. Some might think it too elaborate for this unsophisticated tune (Flammer A-5930).
  • Unique to all concertatos is the combination of the original Gregorian melody of the Te Deum with the hymn tune found in the arrangement by John Ferguson (GIA Publications, Inc., #G-3167). The chant is sung very quietly in Latin by the trebles while the men sing the melody of "Holy God, We Praise Your Name." This effectively links the past with the present. Most likely the opening would have to be sung from the rear of the sanctuary before the processional begins. After the four verses are completed the choir closes with a coda, sung quietly and fading out with the phrase, "Through the church the song goes on."
 
Organists should explore the following collections for preludes and free harmonizations based on GROSSER GOTT. See Heinrich Fleischer's The Parish Organist (CPH 97-1145) Wilbur Held's Hymn Preludes fir the Pentecost Season (CPH 97-5517) or Ten Chorale Improvisations by Paul Manz (CPH 97-5342). Additional free accompaniments may be found in Hymn Preludes and Free Accompaniments Volume 6 by Wilbur Held (Augsburg 11-9402).
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 32)
— Merle R. Mustert
540

Holy God, We Praise Your Name

Hymn Story/Background

This text is based on the anonymous fourth-century Latin hymn “Te Deum Laudamus," which in one modern English prose translation reads:
 
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
all creation worships you,
the Father everlasting.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
the cherubim and seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
               heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
 
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you:
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all praise,
               the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you took our flesh to set us free
you humbly chose the virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come to be our judge.
               Come then, Lord, and help your people,
               bought with the price of your own blood,
               and bring us with your saints
               to glory everlasting.
— Praying Together, 1988

A classic text of the church, "Te Deum Laudamus" has been a staple item in many liturgies and is sometimes extended with versicles and responses. It is loved by all traditions of Christendom: Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant. Much of the text consists of liturgical phrases and acclamations, including some from the "Gloria in excelsis Deo." Over the centuries many composers have set this text in large choral works; it has been translated and versified into many languages and expressed in numerous hymns.
 
A German versification of the "Te Deum" ("Grosser Gott, wir loben dich") appeared anonymously in the Katholisches Gesangbuch (Vienna, around 1774) at the request of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. Four years later that versification was also published by Ignaz Franz with small alter­ations; thus it is attributed to Franz in some modern sources.
 
A rather free English translation of the German and Latin by Clarence A. Walworth was published in a Redemptorist Father's hymnal in 1853 and was reprinted in Dublin's Catholic Psalmist in 1858.
 
Walworth's stanzas 1-4 cover only the first half of the "Te Deum." We and all creation praise our God and Lord (st. 1); all the angels sing their praise to God (st. 2); saints in heaven and the church on earth praise God (st. 3); we praise the triune God (st. 4). The two halves of this part of the "Te Deum" are carefully balanced: stanza 2 ends with the angels' threefold Sanctus; stanza 4 concludes with a Gloria Patri.
 
GROSSER GOTT was set to the German versification in the Katholisches Gesangbuch. A sturdy melody, GROSSER GOTT is in simple bar form (AAB). Sing in parts on stanzas 1-3 and add the descant by Emily R. Brink to unison singing on stanza 4. Use full organ tone with some festive mixtures.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Ignaz Franz (b. Protzau, Silesia, 1719; d. Breslau [Poland], 1790) was a Roman Catholic priest who studied at Glas and Breslau. He held a number of church positions, the longest (1766 until his death) as an assistant in the ecclesiastical court in Breslau. Franz published ten books, the most important a Roman Catholic hymnal, Katholisches Gesangbuch (c. 1774), which contained forty-seven of his hymns.
— Bert Polman

Clarence A. Walworth (b. Plattsburg, NY, 1820; d. Albany, NY, 1900) was born into a Presbyterian home. After studying at Union College in Schenectady, New York, he was admitted to the bar in 1841. His interest in theology led to studies for the Episcopalian ministry at General Theological Seminary in New York City, but under the influence of the Oxford Movement he became a Roman Catholic in 1845 and joined the Redemptorist Order. In 1848 he was ordained as "Clarence Alphonsus" at the Redemptorist college in Wittem, the Netherlands. Walworth served as a priest in Troy, New York and in Albany, New York. One of the founders of the Paulist Order, he fought industrial abuses, took up the cause of Native Americans on the St. Regis reservation, and wrote poetry and hymns. He was stricken with blindness during the last ten years of his life. His best-known publication is The Oxford Movement in America (1895).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Emily Ruth Brink (b. 1940, Grand Rapids, MI) graduated from Calvin College (BA in Music), the University of Michigan (MM in Church Music) and Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (PhD in Music Theory). She taught at Manhattan (Montana) Christian School (1964-1966), the State University of New York (New Paltz; 1966-1967), Trinity Christian College (Palos Heights, IL; 1967-1972), and the University of Illinois (Campaign/Urbana; 1974-1983), also serving as organist and choir director in both Episcopal and Christian Reformed churches in those areas.

In 1977 she was appointed to the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee, and in 1983 moved to Grand Rapids in a change of careers to become the first music and worship editor of the Christian Reformed Church. She was the founding editor of Reformed Worship; editor of the Psalter Hymnal (1987), Songs for LiFE (1994), Sing! A New Creation (2001, 2002); co-editor with Bert Polman of The Psalter Hymnal Handbook (1998), and editor of many other worship-related publications. Since 1984 she has been an adjunct professor at Calvin Theological Seminary, directing the seminary choir in the first years, and introducing courses on church music and worship before being granted emeritus status in 2009. 

Her ecumenical work began with the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, becoming the first woman president (1990-1992); in 2006 she was named a Fellow of the society in recognition of distinguished services to hymnody and hymnology. She served in both local and national offices of the American Guild of Organists, and has been a member for more than twenty years of the Consultation on Common Texts, serving as chair from 2008 to 2014.

In 2002, she became a Senior Research Fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, contributing to The Worship Sourcebook and other publications; serving as program chair of the annual Symposium on Worship; and helping to plan and participate in worship conferences in more than fifteen countries. 
— Emily Brink
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