Holy, Holy, Holy

from by Todd Billingsley

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Based on Revelation 4:8, Reginald Heber, a vicar in Hodnet, Shropshire, England, wrote the lyric for Holy, Holy, Holy in 1826 specifically for Trinity Sunday, which celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity on the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. Heber unexpectedly died at the aged of 43. As his wife was going through some of his writings, she found this song. The text passed hands until it was eventually given to musician John B. Dykes in 1861. Dykes had been a church organist since the age of ten, and was co-founder and president of the Cambridge University Musical Society. Within thirty minutes of receiving the text, he composed the hymn’s tune Nicea.

As a young boy, my parents would bring me to Church Music Week each year at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, NC. These conferences featured phenomenal organists such as Jim Good or Al Travis, and pianists such as Ron Boud or Max Lyall. This hymn is powerful as it stands, but once these artists launched into the introduction, a lump formed in my throat. Then –– when 3,000 trained musicians began singing full tilt…there simply are no words that can describe the overwhelming power of that music. At that moment, I felt I was receiving a small taste of God’s awesome power. Goose bumps spread like a rampant wildfire.


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 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.


from Hymn Anthems, released April 30, 2014




Todd Billingsley New York, New York

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