Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!

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Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee

Author: Reginald Heber (1826)
Opening Hymns
Published in 1637 hymnals

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Representative Text

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,
which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

3 Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee,
perfect in pow'r, 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!

Source: Psalms and Hymns to the Living God #153

Author: Reginald Heber

Reginald Heber was born in 1783 into a wealthy, educated family. He was a bright youth, translating a Latin classic into English verse by the time he was seven, entering Oxford at 17, and winning two awards for his poetry during his time there. After his graduation he became rector of his father's church in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury in the west of England where he remained for 16 years. He was appointed Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and worked tirelessly for three years until the weather and travel took its toll on his health and he died of a stroke. Most of his 57 hymns, which include "Holy, Holy, Holy," are still in use today. -- Greg Scheer, 1995… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee
Title: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Author: Reginald Heber (1826)
Place of Origin: England
Language: English
Notes: Swahili translations: See "Baba, Mwana, Roho, Mungu mwenye enzi". "Mtakatifu wewe Mungu mwenye enzi"; Spanish translation: See "Santo, santo, santo, Señor omnipotente" by Juan Bautista Cabrera Ivars
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Use: Opening Hymns







Plains Cree




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


Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. Bishop R. Heber. [Holy Trinity.] First published in his posthumous Hymns, &c, 1827, p. 84, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, and appointed for Trinity Sunday. It was soon adopted by hymn-book compilers, and is the best known and most widely used of the author's hymns. It is a splendid metrical paraphrase of Rev. iv. 8-11, line 2 of stanza i., "Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee," has been subjected to several changes to adapt the hymn to any hour of the day. Some of these alterations are:—
1. "Gratefully adoring our song,” &c. Leeds Hymn Book, 1853.
2. "Morning and evening our song," &c. Kennedy, 1863.
3. "Holy, holy, holy, our song,” &c. Hymnary, 1872.
4. “Morning, noon, and night, our song," &c.
The most popular change is the first of these. The majority of hymn-books, however, retain the original reading. Although a special hymn for Trinity Sunday, it is sometimes appointed as a morning hymn, as in the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns, 1871.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, p. 530, ii. The earliest printed form of this hymn known to us is in A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for the Parish Church of Banbury, 3rd ed., 1825.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)



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…

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