Hymn Study: Holy, Holy, Holy

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Reginald Heber, author of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” was born Ap­ril 21, 1783, in Ma­lpas, Che­shire, Eng­land. At the age of seventeen he entered Oxford University, where he won a num­ber of awards in Eng­lish and La­tin.

Heber was ordained as a minister in the Anglican Church and served for sixteen years as Rector of Hod­net, a small village in western England. While serving in Hodnet, he wrote “Holy, Holy, Holy” for use on Trinity Sunday, which occurs eight weeks after Easter. In addition to his church ministry, Heber was well-known as a writer, contributing poetry, essays, and hymns to magazines.

In 1823, Heber was sent to India where he became the Bi­shop of Cal­cut­ta. The responsibilities of his work and the difficult climate took their toll on his health. One Sunday in 1826, after preaching a message denouncing the Indian caste system, Heber apparently suffered a sunstroke and died suddenly.

Most of Heber’s hymns were not pub­lished un­til af­ter his death.  In 1827, one year after his death, a collection of fifty-seven of his hymns was published. Most of these hymns are still used today.

John B. Dykes, composer of the tune for “Holy, Holy, Holy,” was born March 10, 1823, in Kings­ton-up­on-Hull, Eng­land. At age 12, he be­came the as­sist­ant or­gan­ist at St. John’s Church in Hull, where his grand­fa­ther served as vicar.

Although Dykes pub­lished ser­mons and ar­ti­cles on re­li­gion, he is best known for com­pos­ing over 300 hymn tunes. He composed the tune for “Holy, Holy, Holy” in 1861.

Hymn Lyrics

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,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall 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 power, 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!

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5 Comments

  1. Judy, now that the series is over I can tell you that I have appreciated it SO much. I am going to be using these in my homeschool and telling my readers about them, too. You put so much work into this series — thank you!

  2. This is one of my favorite hymns. I went to a Church of Christ college and it was always so beautiful when we sang this one.

    1. ellen tidwell says:

      a capella is the best way to enjoy these! 😉

  3. ellen tidwell says:

    Is there a down load or printable for all the hymn studies? I want to download and print them for use, but don’t know how to do it without cutting and pasting…
    Thank you so much for the study! I appreciate the opportunity to use this in our homeschool.

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      Ellen, I haven’t yet gotten the studies into a downloadable format. That’s on my list of things to do. 🙂 In the meantime, if you want to copy and paste, please feel free.