Linda Beck: Learning about the Doxology
The congregation in the little Baptist church I attended as a child always stood and sang the following as the ushers took the collection plates to the altar:
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host:
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.”
I always liked this part of the service (probably because for children, standing was more fun than sitting). I didn’t really know what “doxology” meant. I thought it was just a short verse sort of like “Jesus Loves Me” is to a child. I’m afraid there are times when adults assume children know some things and then fail to educate their students.
Now fast forward many years to 1993 when as a grieving widow, I returned to church and started reading through the Bible. In studying (and by using the internet Ask.com), I found the definition for doxology: “An expression of praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of a Christian worship service.”
Times have changed, including how services are conducted in different denominations. My brother, Michael, was a music minister at several churches and he told me there came a time when some congregations began to see this part of the service as a ritual. Some members were in favor of continuing to sing this doxology while others wanted to discard it and have someone offer a prayer of blessing.(Personally, I think at times it has been left out so there is more time for the pastor’s message and service can end at a certain time. Some folks tend to check their watches to see how much longer service will last. I’m guilty when a service is not touching my heart.)
I guess for some people like me “old habits die hard” and I missed this verse of praise. I was talking to “the other Linda” who grew up in a Lutheran Church where they used this well-known doxology and after she got married she became a Baptist. She has a lovely voice and sang it to me over the phone. She is a profound Christian and could write some wonderful faith-based stories but believes her gift is drawing and she is very good at that!
Hearing her sweet voice sing this doxology awakened a sleeping spirit in me and I thanked God for the memories it revived. I personally encourage churches to at least use it once in awhile even if they don’t want it to be a part of every service.
In reading the Bible as an adult, I learned there are other verses of scripture that are considered to be doxologies. For example, Jude 1:24-25:
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. Amen.”
If one has the true spirit of God, any doxology can touch their hearts as some of the others have mine. (But if there were to be a contest, I believe the most used one would win hands down.)
Another well known doxology used in different congregations goes like this: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.”
As I was finishing up the Book of Jude, my eyes fell upon the first page of the Revelation. In my study Bible, the prologue in Chapter 1:3 reads as follows: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” The last part of verse 5 was shown to be a doxology and even if it has never been put to music, it is a very fitting end to this story: “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever.”
Linda Beck is a local writer who lives in Woodleaf.