Holy, Holy, Holy

Biblical Authority Devotional: Hymns of Praise, Part 1

by Tim Chaffey on September 19, 2011

Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., introduces our devotional series on hymns of praise, and discusses the holiness of God, an oft-repeated theme in Scripture.

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8)

We have reached our final devotional series. Rather than relying on our own abilities to call your attention to the majesty and glory of our Creator and the authority of His Word, we will defer to some of history’s greatest songwriters whose biblically based words have been a blessing to countless believers.

In the early nineteenth century, an Anglican minister named Reginald Heber penned the words of this incredible hymn, which emphasizes the holiness of God. Saying that God is holy means that He is entirely separate or set apart from sin. He is pure and without blemish, while we are sinful. Sadly, these truths are often neglected or forgotten by believers today.

Consider the reaction of Isaiah when he had a vision of God sitting on His throne. Seraphim around the throne covered their eyes and cried out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). Keep in mind that Isaiah was undoubtedly a godly man and then think about how you might respond if you were in his place.

“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)

Now read or sing the words of this amazing hymn and consider anew God’s holiness. Marvel at the amazing grace He demonstrates by saving sinful people. Only through Christ’s sacrificial work can we be made righteous and enter into God’s presence.

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! Tho 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 pow’r, 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!1

Today’s big idea: only through the shed blood of Christ can we dwell with the infinitely holy God.

What to pray: praise God for His holiness and thank Him for His unfathomable grace.


  1. Unless otherwise noted, the lyrics for every hymn in this series are from Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996).


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