631

Holy God

Full Text

Holy, holy, holy God,
holy, almighty God,
holy and immortal God,
have mercy upon us.

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The Orthodox Church lends us this declaration of God’s holiness. The original Greek text translates “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Deathless (or Immortal) One, have mercy on us.” This is the same strong form of address with which the lame man accosted Jesus in saying, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47-48; Luke 18:28-29).

 

Sing! A New Creation

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God’s children are not called to come before God’s throne with a list of accomplishments, or merits or goodness; they are called, says Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 26, to come with the humility that “…offers nothing but our need for mercy.” Such a cry for mercy comes from our “dying-away of the old self” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 88) which expresses that we are “genuinely sorry for our sin and more and more…hate and run away from it” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 89).

 
The gifts of renewal and pardon come only “through true faith” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 20) and are “gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merits” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 21). The very act of faith is to plead for his mercy.

631

Holy God

Additional Prayers

A Prayer for Mercy
Holy God, author of goodness, we lament that we are not as good as we want to be, and that we do not want to be as good as we should be. Our goodness is in trouble, but so is our wanting. Holy God, author of goodness, have mercy on us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
631

Holy God

Tune Information

Name
AGIOS, O THEOS
Key
F Major
Meter
7.6.7.6.

Musical Suggestion

The gravity and boldness in calling on the Living God of the Universe is reflected in the weight of the music. The melody is from the Russian Orthodox liturgy, and should be sung with solemnity. Go slowly, almost ponderously – give the singers a chance to think about whom they are addressing, what it is they are asking for, and why. With a choir, strive for a dark, somewhat covered tone, but don’t allow the itch to sag. It is best sung unaccompanied (with basses singing the low pitches if possible), but the vocal parts may be doubled on the organ with stops that support, never overcome, the voices. 
631

Holy God

Hymn Story/Background

The earliest recorded use of this Greek text is in the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon, in A.D. 451, although it may be an expansion of Revelation 4:8. Orthodox churches still chant it before the reading of the scripture readings for the day, or recite it at services such as funerals and on Good Friday. Traditionally, this prayer has been called the Trisagion (meaning “Thrice Holy”) or “Agios O Theos.”

Composer Information

Alfred Fedak (b. 1953), is a well-known organist, composer, and Minister of Music at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Capitol Hill in Albany, New York. He graduated from Hope College in 1975 with degrees in organ performance and music history. He obtained a Master’s degree in organ performance from Montclair State University, and has also studied at Westminster Choir College, Eastman School of Music, the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, and at the first Cambridge Choral Studies Seminar at Clare College, Cambridge.
 
As a composer, he has over 200 choral and organ works in print, and has three published anthologies of his work (Selah Publishing). In 1995, he was named a Visiting Fellow in Church Music at Episcopal Seminary of the Soutwest in Austin, Texas. He is also a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists, and was awarded the AGO’s prestigious S. Lewis Elmer Award. Fedak is a Life Member of the Hymn Society, and writes for The American Organist, The Hymn, Reformed Worship, and Music and Worship. He was a member of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song that prepared Glory to God, the 2013 hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
— Bert Polman

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