Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
About 22 years ago I started regularly attending church. As my husband’s family was Presbyterian, we decided to also join our local Presbyterian church. This Doxology, as it is called, was sung after every offering. I wonder how many of us sing songs like this from rote, forgetting the true meanings in the lyrics? How many of us, while repeating Bible verses, reciting proclamations of faith (like the Apostle’s Creed) or responding to the pastor, go through the motions without remembering or even realizing their purpose? That’s how I started viewing the Doxology. You give your money, then you stand up, the music starts, and you sing these four little lines. Amen.
When I paid attention to the words I realized what a great, quick way to send up praise throughout the day. All my blessings flow from God. All of us here on Earth should praise Him at every moment possible for those blessings. He is above all. And lastly, I praise the work God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit performs in, with and for me all day. I’ve been singing this song quietly for the last few days in my head. I haven’t sung it in church or heard it sung for probably about 7 months. But when I started thinking about different ways to Praise God, this old hymn popped up in my head. And so, I decided to look into the background of the lyrics.
This excerpt is from Carl Price’s One Hundred and One Hymn Stories about when these lyrics, also known as the Doxology, were sung at an infamous Civil War prison:
The doxology of praise to the Holy Trinity was written by the Rev. Thomas Ken (1637-1710), whom King Charles II once made a chaplain to his sister, Mary, Princess of Orange. Ken was so courageous in his preaching at court that the king often said on the way to chapel: “I must go and hear Ken tell me all my faults.”
Bishop McCabe said that while the prisoners of the Union Army during the Civil War were incarcerated in Libby Prison*, day after day they saw comrades passing away and their numbers increased by living recruits. One night, about ten o’clock, through the darkness they heard the tramp of feet that soon stopped before the prison door, until arrangements could be made inside. In the company was a young Baptist minister, whose heart almost fainted when he looked on those cold walls and thought of the suffering inside. Tired and weary, he sat down, put his face in his hands, and wept.
Just then a lone voice sang out from an upper window, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow”; a dozen joined in the second line, more than a score in the third line, and the words, “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” were sung by nearly all the prisoners. As the song died away on the still night, the young man arose and sang:
“Prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus dwell with me there.”
* Libby Prison was a Confederate prison at Richmond, Virginia, during the American Civil War. It gained an infamous reputation for the overcrowded and harsh conditions under which officer prisoners from the Union Army were kept.
Hymn Story taken from One Hundred and One Hymn Stories by Carl F. Price; Hymn 78, page 86.
Please join me in adding any of your favorite hymn lyrics or excerpts, prayers you repeat in church or likewise. If something else in Praise is on your heart go ahead and add it!