Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References
How can the worshiper not conclude with such acclamations! When God is the “overflowing source of all good” (Belgic Confession, Article 1) and when he has provided all the benefits of Christ’s atonement and makes them ours so that “they are more than enough to absolve us from our sins,” (Belgic Confession, Article 22) our hearts cry out to him with praise and adoration. Therefore, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 128 includes the ending doxology of the Lord’s Prayer and teaches that “your holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise, forever.” And so consistent with these thoughts, Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 2 exclaims, “Our World Belongs to God! God is King: Let the earth be glad! Christ is victor: His rule has begun! The Spirit is at work: Creation is renewed! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” And the Belhar Confession, Section 5 concludes: “Jesus is Lord. To the one and only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory forever and ever.”
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you honored us human beings with the breath of your life, making us in your very image to care for the earth in stewardship and love, and to live together in zest and hospitality as a daily reminder of your Trinitarian abundance. Glory to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This doxology is one of two that date back to the earliest days of the Christian church. This “Lesser Doxology” is still known by its opening Latin words, and is still sung every Sunday in many churches around the world. In some traditions it is sung as an appendix to sung psalms or canticles.
The initial part of the Gloria Patri may be traced back to the Trinitarian baptismal formula recorded in Matthew 28:19; it as probably used by early Christians as an acclamation. The second part, which begins as it was in the beginning,” was added in the fourth century as a response to the Arian heresy. Thus the text reflects the orthodox insistence on the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father and the eternal unity and equality of the three persons in the Trinity.
(The longer “Gloria in excelsis Deo” is known as the “Greater Doxology,” an expansion of Luke 2:14, the text the angels sang at the birth of Christ: “Glory to God in the highest.” )
Henry W. Greatorex (b. Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, 1813; d. Charleston, SC, 1858) received his early music training from his father, who was organist at Westminster Abbey. After moving to the United States in 1839, he served as organist at the Center Congregational Church and at St. John's Church, both in Hartford, Connecticut. He accepted the position of organist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church around 1846 and later became organist and choirmaster of the Calvary Episcopal Church, both in New York City. His final musical position was at the Episcopal Church in Charleston. He is remembered today expecially for his setting of the Gloria Patri, published in his Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Chants, Anthems, and Sentences (Boston, 1851).