Hymn History: Holy, Holy, Holy October 19, 2022

Holy, Holy, Holy

“…and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” – Revelation 4:8

Reginald Heber was a man of intense love for the truth of God’s Word. Nicknamed “the man of letters,” Heber was constantly writing to others to encourage and exhort them in truth. 

Born on April 21, 1783, Heber attended Brasenose College, Oxford. His work in poetry and song won him two distinguished awards during his college tenure. 

Upon the completion of his college work, he was appointed as a minister in the small town of Hadnot. This work was one that he gave his entire being to. He delighted in his work. He cared deeply for the people in his congregation. Further, Heber labored tirelessly to meet their spiritual needs and care for their emotional sorrows.  

However, this pastor understood that the greatest thing he could do was preach to them the truth of God’s Word. His wife recounts that he would have family devotions daily and then retire to his study for 7-8 hours. No doubt this disciplined study of the Bible, cultures, history, and the like, created a cavernous well from which he could draw in his poetry and hymn writing. 

While ministering in Hodnet, Heber wrote a hymn or a poem for every Sunday of the year. This was significant in his day because of the overall lack of hymns in the Anglican Church. Heber believed that the church needed more hymns and throughout his life would see many introduced into corporate worship. Of course, his church benefited the most from this work. As He prepared for the Sunday known as “Trinity Sunday” he produced the mighty Hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. Millions have been helped by this mighty hymn throughout the years! 

However, this man’s passion for Christ was not merely in word. His famous poem From Greenland’s Icy Mountains reveals a burning passion for lost souls within the ministering heart. Thus, in spite of his chronic bad health, he accepted the call to become the Bishop at Calcutta. He would spend 3 years feverishly working to spread the gospel and train Indian men in the Word of God. However, his failing health and the harsh condition of India proved to be too much for Him. He passed away while visiting another church in Trichinopoly. He was only 42 years old. 

Truly His life serves as a great reminder to not simply love God in word but also in deed. Let us all labor for our thrice holy God today! 

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!

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