A Hymn of Holiness
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory! Isaiah 6:3
One of the reasons why traditional hymns of the Christian faith are worth keeping is because of the theology they contain. More contemporary worship songs can be good music—but can lack deeper scriptural truths. Take the classic hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The music was composed by John Bacchus Dykes. But the words came from Reginald Heber, an Englishman born in 1783. Family wealth afforded Reginald an Oxford education. He won a number of awards for his poetry. After serving as a rector, in 1823 he became the Bishop of Calcutta. His term was short, serving only three years before dying of a stroke. Reginald Heber’s widow gave us a treasure. Among his papers she found the words we sing to the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, written by her late husband. Years passed. In 1861, a publisher discovered the poem and had John Bacchus Dykes create the tune still sung today. It took Dykes 30 minutes to write the music. I believe we call that “inspiration!” It would be tempting to quote all four verses, but for our short theology lesson today, consider stanza three:
“Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Tho’ 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.”
The significance of the thrice repeated attribute of God cannot be overstated. As Dr. R.C. Sproul points out, “The Bible doesn’t say that God is Holy. It doesn’t even say that God is holy, holy, but that He is holy, holy, holy… exalting this character of God to the supreme degree.” Keep this in mind as you sing this hymn in the future!
Today, Lord, may I worship You for who You are. Holy. Holy. Holy. Amen.