“Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord”

“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD”
“You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2)

     INTRO.: A hymn which identifies the Lord our God as being truly holy is “Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord” (#669 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text is usually identified as a traditional American Folk Hymn based on Isa. 6:3 and taken from the ancient Sanctus. The tune (Sanctus) was composed by Franz Peter Schubert, who was born on Jan. 31, 1797, at Lichtental, Austria, a small village north of Vienna, the son of the head of the local school. His father and brothers taught him to play the piano, violin, and viola, and he played viola in the family string quartet. At seven he joined the village choir. Four years later he won a place in the Vienna court choir and imperial preparatory school, where he also became first violinist in the school orchestra. When he was about thirteen, he began to compose regularly. A prolific musician who is considered to be the creator of the modern German lied, he produced art songs, operas, church music, chamber works, and symphonies, all noted for beautiful melodies set down at great speed. This music is taken from his "Songs for the Celebration of the Holy Offering of the Mass," also known as the Deutsch Messe in F Major, D, 827, published in Vienna around 1826 or 1827 (perhaps completed in 1826 and printed in 1827).

     This remarkably expressive and singable setting of a vernacular text was intended to be sung in four-part harmony by the congregation.  Nearsighted, quite short of stature, and always poor, Schubert lived to be only 31 years old and died of typhus in Vienna, on Nov. 19, 1828.  Sometimes Schubert is given credit for both lyrics and music. Schubert’s original words as translated into English go something like this:
“Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might (repeated once).
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory, Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.”
Most books today have a single stanza:
“Holy, holy, holy, Holy is the Lord.
Holy, holy, holy, Holy is the Lord.
Holy is the Father, Holy is the Son,
Holy is the Spirit, Blessed Three in One.”

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, this single stanza may be found in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard; as well as Hymns for Worship Revised (not in original editions). A second stanza was added in the 1998 Hymn Supplement of the Columbia Hymn Association:
“Glory, glory, glory, Glory to the Lord.
Glory, glory, glory, Glory to the Lord.
Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son,
Glory to the Spirit, Blessed Three in One.”
Then a third stanza (made #2) was added in the Sing to the Lord Song Supplement 2002 published by Guardian of Truth Foundation:
“Worthy, worthy, worthy, Worthy is the Lord.
Worthy, worthy, worthy, Worthy is the Lord.
Worthy is the Father, Worthy is the Son,
Worthy is the Spirit, Blessed Three in One.”
I have taken the liberty to make a few changes to the text to eliminate what some might consider the excessive repetitiveness of the song and give it a little more substance.

     The song refers to the Lord as holy, worthy, and to be given glory.

I. Stanza 1 calls Him holy
“Holy, holy, holy, Holy is the Lord;
Holy, holy, holy, Holy is His word.
Holy is the Father, Holy is the Son,
Holy is the Spirit, Blessed Three in One.”
 A. God is holy: Isa. 6:3
 B. He is holy because He is the Lord: Acts 17:24
 C. Because God Himself is holy, His word, the inspired scriptures, is holy as well: 2 Tim. 3:15

II. Stanza 2 says that He is worthy
“Worthy, worthy, worthy, Worthy is the Lamb;
Worthy, worthy, worthy, He’s the great I AM.
Worthy is the Father, Worthy is the Son,
Worthy is the Spirit, Blessed Three in One.”
 A. To be worthy means to have value or merit and thus deserving of praise: 2 Sam. 22:4, Rev. 4:11
 B. One member of the Godhead who is worthy is the Lamb who was slain for us: Rev. 5:8-12
 C. The reason that He is worthy is because by His nature He is to be identified with the great I AM: Jn. 8:58

III. Stanza 3 gives Him glory
“Glory, glory, glory, Glory to our King;
Glory, glory, glory, Praises now we sing.
Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son,
Glory to the Spirit, Blessed Three in One.”
 A. To give someone glory is to express honor, worship, and adoration: Ps. 29:1-2
 B. The reason that we should give glory to God is that He is King: Ps. 10:16
 C. Therefore, we should sing praises to Him: Ps. 92:1

     CONCL.: This is one of those songs which, even though the melody has been around for some time, seemed to pop up out of nowhere in recent years and has become extremely popular. Several arrangements of the music have been made, but it is a fairly simple tune that is easy to sing and the words, while somewhat repetitive, do express honor, worship, and adoration to our God. Certainly it is important for everyone, especially those who claim to be Christians, to acknowledge openly that “Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord.”

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