We often think of a doxology as that sombre, slow song we sing in church without even needing to think of the words – we can just go into auto-pilot and coast through that one! The word, doxology, however, means much more (from the Greek: doxa “glory”+ logia “saying”) – it is expressing our praise in words.

The familiar (and often tuned-out) words of the doxology are beautiful; rich in theology, strong in simplicity:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Those words are actually the last stanza of an eleven stanza hymn that was written subversively. It was a contemporary college praise song of the 17th century! Bishop Thomas Ken (1637-1711) wrote it at a time when the church only allowed the Psalms to be sung.  Bishop Ken wrote this song (and others) and encouraged the young men he ministered to at Winchester College to sing as part of their personal worship in their dorm rooms. It was the contemporary music movement of the day!

The whole song is inspiring and stirring. This is just a portion of the eleven stanzas:
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

All praise to Thee, who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,

O never then from me depart;

For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.      Amen.

In 1688, Bishop Ken was imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to publish a document by King James II promoting indulgences. He was tried, acquitted, and released – to write more praise music. What moderns think of as “The Doxology” (“Awake, My Soul, and With the Sun”) was sung in its entirety, at sunrise, at Bishop Ken’s funeral on March 19,1711.

Our family has added this song to our morning playlist – to help us to doxologize our day!

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