This hymn is a favorite for the opening of worship on Sunday mornings for many congregations but is also widely sung as an ecumenical hymn due to its circulation and familiarity in multiple contexts.
The author intended this hymn’s text to be sung following the saying of the Nicene Creed on Trinity Sunday and draws from the biblical imagery of Revelation 4:8-11 and Isaiah 6. In the early 20th century, this text, with its current hymn tune was recommended to be used in celebrating Communion and is often still used for this purpose. (Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity from 14th century Russia at right).
Heber was an Anglican priest and bishop of Calcutta in India and was a well known hymn writer. This hymn can be found in the United Methodist Hymnal #64 along with other hymns he penned including “Bread of the World” UMH #688.
The imagery and language of this hymn is Trinitarian in its scope and invites those who are singing into a space to worship and praise God. For me, this hymn is one of many examples of hymns whose content and musicality can still translate and be brought into our post-modern context (barring a few exchanges of “wert” for “were”). This is a “classic” hymn in my book and one that can unite people from various traditions, backgrounds, and experiences in worship of our Triune God.
chords for Holy, Holy, Holy