Glorify Thy Name

(photo of Donna Adkins and husband Jim)

“GLORIFY THY NAME”

“Father, glorify Thy name” (Jn. 12:28)

     INTRO.:  A song which expresses the idea of glorifying the name of the Father is “Glorify Thy Name” (#505 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Donna Whobrey Adkins who was born in Louisville, KY, on June 18, 1940.  Her mother and father were both church musicians and traveled as gospel singers.  At two years of age Donna began singing publicly and at age twelve was playing piano for the family quartet.  After attending Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, and the University of Louisville, she has served on the music staff of several churches including the Covenant Church of Pittsburg, PA, where her husband Jim has been on the ministerial staff.

     This song was produced in 1975 after Donna had read the 17th chapter of John one morning and begun to meditate on the prayer of Jesus.  The Adkins family had moved to a new place, with things far from familiar.  She wrote, “I saw in a new way that Jesus was not only praying for His disciples, but for all who would follow Him in years to come. He was actually praying for me! I was impressed that Jesus was placing great emphasis on the unity in the Godhead. I also saw that it was very important to Jesus that the Father’s name be glorified, and that there seemed to be a correlation between glorifying the Father’s name and achieving unity. In that same moment I was inspired to sit at the piano and write ‘Glorify Thy Name.’”  The song was copyrighted in 1976 by Maranatha! Music and appeared in a small booklet used at a minister’s conference.  Later it was published by Maranatha! Music in 1981 in their collection Praise 5.  It also appeared on the corresponding recording of the same name. Subsequently it was included in The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, published at Waco, TX, in 1986.  The Adkins are parents of two grown children.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Glorify Thy Name” has appeared in the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1997 edition of the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2010 Praise Hymnal and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition).  In looking at the song in these sources, I noted that most books have what I assume is the original wording which uses the modern pronoun “You” in the first part but then switches to the Elizabethan pronoun “Thy” in the second part, which I find interesting.  However, some books now use modern pronouns throughout and in fact title the song “Glorify Your Name.”

     The song is an attempt to give glory to the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I. Stanza 1 addresses the Father

Father, we love You,

We worship and adore You.

Glorify Thy name in all the earth.

Glorify Thy name, Glorify Thy name,

Glorify Thy name in all the earth.

 A. There is one God and Father who is above all: Eph. 4:6

 B. We are to worship Him: Jn. 4:24

 C. And He is to be glorified in our body and spirit: 1 Cor. 6:20

II. Stanza 2 addresses the Son

Jesus, we love You,

We worship and adore You,

Glorify Thy name in all the earth.

Glorify Thy name, Glorify Thy name,

Glorify Thy name in all the earth.

 A. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God: Matt. 16:16

 B. As such, He also is worthy to be worshipped: Matt. 2:11

 C. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ should be glorified in us: 2 Thess. 1:12

III. Stanza 3 addresses the Spirit

Spirit, we love You,

We worship and adore You.

Glorify Thy name in all the earth.

Glorify Thy name, Glorify Thy name,

Glorify Thy name in all the earth.

 A. The Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, the Comforter:  Jn. 14:26

 B. There is no specific example of people “worshipping” the Spirit, but since the Spirit is God, when we worship God generally, He would be included: Acts 5:3-4, Rev. 22:9

 C. Since the primary function of the Spirit in redemption was to reveal the word, when we glorify word we are in essence glorifying the work of the Spirit: 2 Thess. 3:1

     CONCL.:  I hate to sound negative and picky because I know that some brethren dearly adore this song, and I must admit that the tune is somewhat majestic so that it almost can give one goosebumps.  However, the song has to be the poster child for repetitiousness of words in hymns.  Other than the first word, the rest of each stanza is exactly the same—three times over.  Consider the following observations that I made in an article written a few years ago for a church bulletin which I edited, posted on the Internet, and now appearing on a couple of websites.

     Another concern that I have about most “praise and worship” songs is the nature of their lyrics. We are to “teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). Teaching and admonishing, at least in a scriptural sense, requires words. The purpose of words is to say something, but the fact is that the typical praise and worship songs simply do not say very much. Some have referred to them as “7/11″ songs–seven words sung eleven times. Aside from their subjective, emotionalistic characteristics, they also tend to be very repetitious. Of course, all repetition is not necessarily wrong, and some is even helpful to the memory. However, we need to be careful about “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7). One of the criteria that I use in evaluating a hymn is to read it over as poetry without thinking of the tune (admittedly, this can sometimes be rather difficult). Does it say anything? Does it make sense? Consider this example of an extremely popular “praise and worship” song. If you are familiar with it, try to read it simply as poetry without thinking of the tune.  [Here I quote “Glorify Thy Name.”]

     It is amazing that something which, purely as poetry, would likely be considered practically as trite doggerel almost magically becomes a “spiritual song” when set to a catchy tune! Yes, it is true that many of the older style gospel songs, and especially some of the earlier twentieth century southern variety, are also rather repetitious. One that was brought to my attention years ago is “The Glory-Land Way.” If we sing all three stanzas, we will have sung the phrase “I’m in the glory-land way” (or its equivalent) some fifteen times by the end of the song. Yet compare this to “Glorify Thy Name,” again reading it simply as poetry without thinking of the tune….It seems to me that even this somewhat egregious example of gospel-song repetition at its worst comes across as nearly “classic poetry” when stood side by side with some of the “praise and worship” songs.

     It should be obvious that this is not one of my favorite religious songs, but we certainly do need good hymns of genuine praise and worship by which we can tell our God that we want to “Glorify Thy Name.”

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