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Posted: 5/29/2015
Glory Be To God!
The Doxology

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

It's the Christian Doxology. Although the actual words might differ a bit, you'd be hard pressed to find any Christian worship service that did not include the doxology. Often it is sung in a form called the Gloria Patri, also known as the Glory Be to the Father or simply, the Glory Be.

Another frequent doxology in Christian worship is the "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow ...," often called the Old 100th. It's similar to the doxology above, but without the "forever" phrase. (At the service I attend, we sing Old 100th during Advent and Lent; at other times using similar words but to the tune "Lasst uns effruen" -- All Creatures of Our God and King).

Most dictionaries define the doxology basically as a short hymn of praise to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns. Some references suggest it derives from Jewish practice where the Kaddish separates sections of the service. (The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name.)

My curiosity about the doxology grew from seeing where and how often it is used. For a few years, I have led a Morning Prayer service using Rite II of Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer. Sometimes repeated words can be just that ... words. But, when I realized that we were saying the above doxology four times in our twenty-minute service, I started thinking that this must be something more here than mere words. The number of recitations of the doxology in that brief service could climb to seven or eight depending on how many different canticles or collects we might choose to include!

I noticed, too, that my own personal morning/evening devotional book, Common Prayer includes that same doxology in both the morning and evening liturgy (also in the Midday one I don't usually use):

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

The Lord's Prayer (the Our Father) concludes with a doxology. Most biblical scholars realize that the prayer in Matthew (6:9-13) actually ends abruptly with "but deliver us from the evil one," (or "deliver us from evil,"); a doxology was added later: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen." Most Protestants include this doxology in the prayer. (See Resources below for an interesting presentation about this added-doxology.)

I remember years ago, someone suggested separating the "Lord's Prayer" and its doxology in one's private prayer time. Pray the prescribed words then pause after the "deliver us from evil" part. Here, include your own spontaneous requests and thanksgivings. Then conclude with the doxology, "For thine is the kingdom ..." I often pray this way.

The first part of this doxology, Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, reflects the heart of worship -- Praise and Glory to God! The specific words capture the Christian belief in the Triune nature of God -- the essence of deep theology captured in just a few, simple words. (I like how one of our priests, Pastor Beverly, prefaces her sermons: "In the name of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Her brief declaration also states simply this profound understanding.)

As it was in the beginning ...It is the last part of the doxology that has come to be most meaningful to me: (A)s it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Something about that seems so simple, yet so profound. As the bible begins in Genesis: In the beginning God ...; it ends in Revelation with Jesus' return. I picture the two symbols hanging on opposite ends of the large wooden cross hanging in our sanctuary: The Alpha and the Omega. I cannot fully explain, but I get a sense of where we are: We are part of this flow with God that was from the beginning and will continue for ever.

This will be for ever also makes me think of what may be the most comforting words in scripture, the words of Jesus at the end of Matthew's gospel: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:20, New American Standard Bible.) Not only is it that God IS to the end of the age; but also, God is with us always ... and for ever.

"Abide in me, and I will abide in you."Jesus,
Gospel of John 15:4
(Int'l Standard Version)
We may ask for a lot from God. But, can we really need more than God has already promised ... the creator and sustainer of the universe will stand by us and with us whatever ... and for ever. "I am with you always."

A few Sundays ago, at the service's end, we sang Abide With Me. My son, Alan, as crucifer, carried the cross high leading the recessional while we sang the words of that comforting hymn. The thoughts of this Reflection hit home as we sang the final verse:

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Lately, I have begun saying the doxology often during the day, sometimes even as a mantra. The words seem to give comfort and perspective especially during the day's transitions from one thing to another:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

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Resources Related To this Reflection

Gordon Hugenberger pic Gordon P. Hugenberger's of historic Park Street Church, Boston: Comments on Lord's Prayer doxology.
A version of the hymn Abide with Me, at St Thomas, Belfast, Ireland (Church of Ireland - Anglican). From a service commemorating the sinking of the Titanic.

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