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Santo, santo santo (Holy, Holy, Holy)

Scripture References

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.


Santo, santo santo (Holy, Holy, Holy)

Words of Praise

Optional acclamation
Con los ángeles y los arcángeles
y con todos los coros celestiales,
cantamos sin cesar
el himno de tu gloria:
We sing our hymn
with all the angels and archangels
and the entire company of heaven
who praise and magnify your glorious name,
forever praising you and saying:
— Lift Up Your Hearts (

Santo, santo santo (Holy, Holy, Holy)

Tune Information

F Major


Musical Suggestion

Characteristic of much Spanish folk music is the use of minor keys and strong rhythmic patterns. "Holy, Holy, Holy" exhibits both of these traits.
The tune carries the rhythm typical of the Merengue, a dance common in Central America: the ti ti ti ti ta ta occurs twice in each line. Any kind of rhythm instrument, including homemade ones, can be used to accompany this song: drums and bongos of all shapes and sizes, maracas, claves, gui'ro (produces a scraping sound). Guitars and fiddles of various sizes, including the bass, will also help bring out the rhythmic vitality of this number.
Like so much Latin American and Spanish folk music, the melody is simple (only six notes are used), with a narrow range (a minor sixth), and in a minor mode. It is a catchy tune, simple but in no way trite, that combines strength (strong rhythm) and sweetness (minor mode melodiousness). The high point of the five lines occurs in line three, and the last two lines are the same: a-b-C-d-d. In other words, structurally the tune is in the shape of an arch, or rainbow.
One of the many ways to use this song effectively is as a joyful and worshipful doxology. Since it has only one stanza, "Holy, Holy, Holy" could be sung a number of times. If, as is typical of the Merengue, it is sung with an accelerando, each repetition would be a little faster. It is also dramatic to sing the last repetition rather slowly and in a hushed manner, expressing a sense of awe at the holiness of God.
Simple vocal or instrumental improvisation is entirely appropriate for this kind of music, and an example of a possible descant is provided above.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 28)
— Jan Overduin

Santo, santo santo (Holy, Holy, Holy)

Author Information

Linda McCrae grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Following college, she spent three years living and working in Mexico City, Mexico through the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Linda returned to the United States to pursue her Masters of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York, New York. Her degree included studies at the Latin American Biblical Seminary in San Jose, Costa Rica. Following her graduation and ordination, Linda worked for several years for Global Ministries of the Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ, first as a program assistant for Latin America and the Caribbean and later as a missionary in a role of “pastoral accompaniment” with refugees in Guatemala.
Upon her return, Linda was called as Pastor of Wood Memorial Christian Church in Van Buren, Arkansas. Since 2002 she has served as Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in downtown Indianapolis, where she gets great joy from being part of an inquisitive, diverse, justice-seeking community of faith. She also serves as a Field Education supervisor at Christian Theological Seminary, and is a member of the board of the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN). She recently completed nine years of service on the board of directors for the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, including two years as chair of the board.
— Transforming the Church Bio (

Author and Composer Information

Guillermo Cuéllar (b. 1955) serves on the faculty at the Universidad “Francisco Gavidia” in San Salvador, El Salvador and is a member of the multidisciplinary group, “Dirección Nacional de Investigaciones en Arte y Cultura de la Presidencia de la Republica” (President’s National Board of Research for Arts and Culture). He has an advanced degree in Social Anthropology and his other areas of study have included philosophy, theology and communications from universities in Mexico and Central America.
In addition to his dedication as a teacher, music has monopolized his professional commitments for the last 35 years. His musical trajectory began as a choir member as a youth in Woodstown High School in New Jersey and the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in El Salvador. Over the last 35 years he has been a member of musical groups that best represent the Salvadoran “Nueva Canción”: Sembrador (1975), Mahu Cutah (1977), Yolocamba l Ta (1980), Banda Tepehuani (1986), Cuestarriba (1994), Exceso de Equipaje (1996-2009).
Between 1999 and 2005 he directed the university choir of the Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador. He is the renowned composer of two mass settings: “Misa Popular Salvadoreña” (1980), which was written at the request of Archbishop Romero, and “Misa Mesoamericana” (1994), as well as “Dos Alas” (2000), a musical composition of the poems of the Salvadoran poet, Alfredo Espino.
— Guillermo Cuellar (
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