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We Bow Before Thee


I am a real big fan of the deep, rich doctrinal messages found in hymns. I grew up at the perfect time in a small-town church. From when I was young, I remember singing the great rich hymns, solid truths and straight forward congregational arrangements. As I grew to a youth, we were not just singing the hymns, but contemporary praise songs began to be released. I guess you can say that I grew up on a healthy diet of traditional and contemporary music. 

This has really made me excited about the new releases of re-modernizing hymns. They keep the solid truths of the hymns while having the same familiarity of the melody with the addition of modern music. Adding parts for guitar, strings, percussion, and many other instruments. Then on top of that sometimes adding a chorus response to the richness of the verse or even my favorite, a response using another great hymn.

Recently we introduced the new version of Holy, Holy, Holy, called We Bow Before Thee. I really felt like revisiting the hymn and the response of the chorus really nails it when it was written as the only response to God’s holiness. Which is to bow down in worship and cling to the promises of the saving power of Jesus.

I bow before Thee,
King of glory,
holy are You Lord,
none beside Thee
Perfect in power
My God forever
You were and are
And You will be

But other than the great response with the addition of the chorus, the musical arrangement changes just enough to make you rethink the words of the verses. I wanted to take the time now and just share some of the meaning to words of Holy, Holy, Holy. We are only going to scratch the surface, but I want to hit a few lines that we often sing without thought of their meaning.

First of all, this song is about the holiness of God and he is not just holy, He is holy, holy, holy. J.I. Packer says this about the holiness of our God,

Holy” in both biblical languages means separated and set apart for God, consecrated and made over to Him.1

This song over and over again iterates the holiness of God each verse as the beginning with those words, “Holy, holy, holy!”

“…early in the morning, our song shall rise to thee,” this verse is a reminder about who is first in my life. I know for me to have a consistent lifestyle of worship I must have time with God as the first thing that I do in the day, in the morning. It is not a commandment to do so, but there are more than seventy-one times in Scripture that point to spending time with God as the first thing we should do. 

Psalm 143:8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 88:13 But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

1 Samuel 1:19a They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord.

Psalm 5:3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

“…all the saints adore thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea…” Christians, Saints, do you adore God? Let me ask it another way, do you love, worship, and glorify God? We all need to take this check from time to time and ask ourselves this question. Are you lord of your life or do you have areas that you need to cast down your crown and let the Lord of lords rule entirely and have his way?

Lastly, I wanted to wrap this all up with this line, “Only thou art holy, there is none beside thee…” Our God is truly holy, and His holiness is so great that nothing else compares and can even be called holy. He is perfect in power, love, and purity. His holiness passes through each and every characteristic of God. His love is holy, his power is holy, even his purity is holy. It is set apart, nothing else like it.

So as we gather together and sing Holy, Holy, Holy (We Bow Before Thee), may we be reminded of these things. Might we be reminded that there is no one, nothing like Him. Nothing else compares. May we check and evaluate our lives for things that we need to allow God to rule. Let us put our worship of Christ first in our lives every day, let’s daily every morning bow before Thee.

1 J.I. Packer, Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God

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