249. Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty

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,
who wert and art and evermore shalt be.

3 Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye made blind by sin 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!

Text Information
First Line: Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Title: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty
Author: Reginald Heber (1827, alt.)
Meter: 11 12 12 10
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ; ;
Topic: Doxologies; Songs for Children: Hymns; Opening of Worship (4 more...)
Tune Information
Composer (desc.): David McKinley Williams, 1887-1978
Composer: John B. Dykes (1861)
Meter: 11 12 12 10
Key: D Major
Copyright: Descant © 1948, 1976, H. W. Gray, Co., a division of Belwin Mills Publishing Corp. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st.1 = Isa. 6:3, Rev. 4:8
st.2 = Isa. 6:2-3, Rev. 4:6-10
st.3 = Isa. 6:3-4, Rev. 4:11, Rev. 15:4
st.4 = Rev. 4:8, Rev. 5:13

Using reverent and apocalyptic language, "Holy, Holy, Holy!" alludes to Revelation 4:6-11; 5:13; 15:2-4; and Isaiah 6:1-3 to sing the great majesty of the triune God. Note the cosmic scope of the text: human beings (st. 1), saints and angels in glory (st. 2), and all creation (st. 4) praise the name of the Lord! Though God's holiness, love, and purity are cloaked in mystery, we can still experience God's mercy and mighty power, and we can participate in praising God. The text is trinitarian in theme, but not in structure.

Reginald Heber (b. Malpas, Cheshire, England, 1783; d. Trichinopoly, India, 1826) wrote the text for Trinity Sunday, the day for which lectionary in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer prescribes the reading of Revelation 4. It was first published in the third edition (1826) of A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for the Parish Church of Banbury and was also published posthumously in Heber's Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Services of the Year (1827). The unusual single rhyme (all on the "ee" sound) and the uneven number of syllables in some lines have not detracted from the hymn's popularity.

Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, Heber was ordained in the Church of England in 1807. He first served his family's parish in Hodnet, Shropshire (1807-1823), and in 1823 his dream of being a missionary was fulfilled when he was appointed bishop of Calcutta. He worked and traveled ceaselessly until his sudden death in 1826. Heber began writing hymns partly because of his dissatisfaction with the poor psalm singing in his congregation and partly because he was influenced by the vital hymn singing among Methodists and Baptists. He wrote hymns while in Hodnet and expressed a desire to compile a hymnbook with its contents appropriate to the church year. His fifty-seven hymn texts were published posthumously by his wife in Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Services of the Year (1827), a hymnbook that began a tradition of arranging the contents of hymn collections according to the church year.

Liturgical Use:
Beginning of worship; worship services emphasizing the Trinity.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

The tune NICAEA is named after the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) at which church leaders began to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity to oppose the heresies of Arius. NICAEA is one of the finest tunes composed by John B. Dykes (PHH 147) and the only one of his many tunes that resembles the style of the Lutheran chorale – its similarity to WACHET AUF (613) is noted by various scholars. Dykes wrote NICAEA as a setting for Reginald's text, and ever since their first publication together in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861), the text and tune have been virtually inseparable.

Organists should articulate the repeated melody notes clearly but tie over a number of the repeated accompaniment notes. Sing at a stately tempo with solid organ tone. Use the descant once or twice a year on festive occasions.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us


It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing Hymnary.org or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support Hymnary.org.