The dictionary definition of word “doxology” is “a usually liturgical expression of praise to God”. The etymology stems from two words: doxa meaning “opinion” or “glory” and logia meaning written or oral expression. Therefore, “an expression of our opinion of God’s glory” (or “glory talk”, for short!).
A doxology is an overflow of praise that happens when we try to grasp God’s greatness. When thinking about God, truly focussing on Him, our perceptions grow a little. For instance…
- When looking at the big things of creation — the universe with its galaxies and stars, or the seemingly-endless oceans, or the majesty of Mt. Everest or the Grand Canyon — we get a glimpse of God’s infinite power and scope.
- When looking at the small things — cells and molecules, hummingbirds, a baby’s fingernails — we see His detail and intimacy.
- When looking at history, especially God’s dealings with Israel, we see His sovereignty.
- Thinking about how He has orchestrated the events of our lives, and how He has touched us through all of the people we’ve encountered, reveals His intricate care for each person He has created.
- Meditating on the extremes of His plan for our redemption — the Son of God exchanging the throne of heaven for a manger, a human life, and ultimately, a cross — causes us to stand in awe of His infinite love and grace.
- Finally, recognizing the victory of His resurrection and the future in which He shares that victory with us forever leaves us with no option except to worship Him.
In a doxology, the speaker is trying to convey the honor due to God for all He is and for all He does. Because that topic can never be covered adequately, doxologies tend to repeat themselves in a crescendo with lots of exclamation points and synonyms for “PRAISE HIM!!!”
There are doxologies in church tradition, in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament.
When I think of the song “Doxology” from the hymnbooks that I grew up with, I am remembering this lyric that was often sung as the benediction at the end of a worship service:
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.
Here we see instructions for everyone and everything, in earth and in heaven, to praise the Three-in-One God Who is responsible for all things worth having. Pretty all-encompassing for four short lines!
I have heard of the words “Glory Be!” used as an exclamation. I’ve also heard the saying “world without end”. Until researching for this article, though, I didn’t realize that they both come from a traditional doxology known as the Gloria Patri. This is also sometimes called the “lesser doxology”.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
If there is a “lesser”, then there must be a “greater”, right? Yes, there is. It is also called the Gloria in Excelsis, from the first line (which will sound familiar from the Christmas story in Luke 2:14).
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.
We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee,
we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory:
O Lord, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty;
O Lord, the Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest on the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For Thou alone art holy, Thou alone art Lord, Jesus Christ,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
There is more to this song than I am quoting here. You can see the rest at this link.
In the Old Testament, the Psalms are packed full of praises to God. I searched for the word “praise” in just the book of Psalms, and got over 100 verses! A few of my favorites were:
- Psalm 8 “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth…“
- Psalm 34 “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.“
- Psalm 66 “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!‘”
- Psalm 92 “It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night…“
- Psalm 98 “O sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done wonderful things…Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.“
- Psalm 100 “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.“
- Psalm 103 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.“
- Psalm 111 “Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart“
- Psalm 117 “Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples!“
- Psalm 135 “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.“
- Psalm 145 “I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.“
- Psalm 148 “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!“
- Psalm 150 “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.”
Outside of the Psalms, here is a wonderful doxology from 1 Chronicles:
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.1 Chronicles 29:11-13
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul often included doxologies in his letters to the churches. Examples include:
- Romans 11:33-36 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!…For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.“
- Romans 16:25-27 “Now to Him who is able to establish you…to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.“
- Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ“
- Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.“
- 1 Timothy 1:17 “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.“
Paul was not the only New Testament writer to include a doxology:
- 1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead….“
- Jude 1:24-25 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.“
And throughout Revelation:
- 4:8 “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!“
- 4:11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.“
- 5:12 “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.“
- 5:13 “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.“
- 7:12 “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.“
- 11:17 “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.“
- 15:3 “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!“
- 19:1-6 “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.“
Because God deserves it! Praise is the appropriate response to really seeing Him and understanding who He is.
A couple of years ago, I added the post “Incredible” to this site. I wasn’t thinking “doxology” at the time, but that is really what it is. Maybe you would like to take a moment to write your own song of praise and worship to the God who loves you with everything He is. Just try to describe Him. You won’t succeed, but you will be richer for the effort!