Posted by: rcottrill | June 13, 2018

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Clarence Alphonsus Walworth (b. May 30, 1820; d. Sept. 19, 1900); translated from a hymn attributed to Ignaz Franz (b. Oct. 12, 1719; d. Aug. 19, 1790); who, in turn, seems to have got the text from the Latin Te Deum, published in AD 387.
Music: Grosser Gott (also Te Deum), first appearing in Katholisches Gesang-Buch of Maria Theresa of Austria, around 1774.

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Both Walworth and Franz were Roman Catholics, but the hymn has found acceptance in Protestant churches too (see comments below). For a discussion of the third line of stanza one (“All on earth Thy sceptre claim”) see my comments in the second Wordwise Hymns link, as well as those of reader Robert Woodman.

The common designation of an object as an “antique” means that it’s at least a hundred years old–though the term is often used more loosely, simply to describe something old.

Anyone who has watched television’s popular Antiques Road Show realizes the great value of some antiques. It depends on things such as age, and rarity, and sometimes the connection of the piece to a famous person or event. Clear proof of these factors (called provenance) can increase the value significantly. And sometimes an item–such as a painting or a carving–is also valued for its beauty and the skilled craftsmanship that produced it.

That may come to mind when we hear an individual talk about a “good old hymn.” It’s a relative term. Perhaps the one speaking is young, and all the hymns seem old. Or perhaps his or her church has gone contemporary, and has not sung the traditional hymns and gospel songs for many years.

Looked at strictly as to the date of writing or publication, anything written in the twentieth century is comparatively young. In the Garden was published in 1912, The Old Rugged Cross in 1913. Victory in Jesus came along in 1939, the Christmas song Mary’s Boy Child in 1956, and Because He Lives in 1971.

But the church of Christ is nearly two thousand years old, and we have some songs in our hymnals from the early days. Christian Dost Thou See Them was written by Andrew of Crete in the seventh century. Shepherd of Eager Youth is attributed to Clement of Alexandria and dated about AD 200.

Much older still are some other hymns we sing. Several texts found in the New Testament were apparently turned into songs early on. For example: the words of Zacharias beginning, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” (Lk. 1:68-79); and those of Mary beginning, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk. 1:46-55). And First Timothy 3:16 is believed to be arranged to be sung:

God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.

Then what about the Old Testament? The book of Psalms was the hymn book not only of the nation of Israel, but of the early church. If you have ever sung an English translation of Psalm 23, beginning, “The Lord is my shepherd,” you have sung a hymn written by David around 1000 BC.

And there are psalms even older. Psalm 90 was written by Moses, about five hundred years before David’s time. When you sing the hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past, you are singing an English paraphrase of Psalm 90, written by Isaac Watts. But the original comes from thirty-five centuries ago. An old hymn indeed!

The hymn Holy God, We Praise Thy Name–where we’ll pause now a moment–is an English translation by Clarence Walworth of words attributed to Polish hymnist and compiler Ignaz Franz, carrying us back another century before Walworth. However, if Franz did write it, the hymn actually seems to be taken from the Latin hymn Te Deum, coming to us from AD 387. What we have is thus a translation of a translation, going back six centuries.

Walworth’s version has eight stanzas, but many hymnals use only the first four. Interestingly, it’s a hymn that has found acceptance in both Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations. The reason is this hymn of glorious praise deals with an area of doctrine held by both, the Trinity of the Godhead.

CH-1) Holy God, we praise Thy name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy sceptre claim,
All in heav’n above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

CH-2) Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

CH-4) Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.

Questions:
1) Why is the Trinity an important part of Christian teaching?

2) Can you think of other hymns that deal with the triune nature of God (i.e. the Trinity)? The Cyber Hymnal lists over sixty here.

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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