Holy, Holy, Holy

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!

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.

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.

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!

Written by an Anglican clergyman, Reginald Heber in 1826, Holy, Holy, Holy is a classic, triumphant hymn of praise and adoration.

This hymn calls all to join in the worship of the Lord.

We, the congregation, start singing God’s praise in verse 1 as we come “early in the morning”.

But we are not the only ones to sing God’s praise.

In the second verse of this hymn we proclaim this reality as we sing of all the saints in John’s vision of heaven praising God by casting their crowns at his feet.

 In Isaiah 6:3 we see angels cry out:

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory”

These angels join us in our hymn in verse 2 as well.

And in Revelation 4:8 the four living creatures sing:

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who is and was and is to come!”

In the fourth verse we sing of all creation joining in the praise of our God with us.

And so, as we sing Holy, Holy, Holy to our God we are in good company.

Holy, Holy, Holy also highlights the great majesty of our God.

In this hymn, we repeatedly sing about how our God is merciful and mighty, how he is Almighty God and how he is holy. We also sing of his perfect power, love and purity which reflects his might, mercy and holiness in different words.

It is the combination of God’s holiness, with his power and his mercy that makes our God so praiseworthy. A perfectly righteous God with no power could not maintain justice. And a perfectly righteous and powerful God with no mercy would not accept our praise.

Beyond our comprehension

Verse 3 is a fascinating break in the flow of thought in this hymn. As we lift our hearts, minds and voices to praise our God it is good to acknowledge that because of our weakness and our sinfulness, our hearts and minds are darkened. This darkness hides the perfection and glory of God from the eye of sinful man.

But even though we cannot know the fullness of the greatness of his glory, we are still given grace enough to know that he is Holy, Holy, Holy! Blessed Trinity.

  • Thomas Eglinton