What is a doxology?
Praise and theology in song
The term ‘doxology’ is derived from Greek.
– ‘doxa’ meaning ‘glory, splendour, grandeur’
– ‘logos’ meaning ‘words, utterances, study’.
Modern usage usually defines the term as ‘expressions of praise to God, often associated with a hymn sung during Christian worship’.
Most doxologies are, in effect, short statements of praise to God and are often added to the end of hymns and psalms.
Doxologies are generally sung, though they can be spoken, and, throughout history, certain texts have been specifically labelled as doxologies by the Church.
• Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest). This is also known as the Greater Doxology.
• Gloria Patri (Glory be to the Father). This is also known also as the Lesser or Minor Doxology.
Both are commonly used in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions and in some Protestant denominations.
Perhaps the most well-known and frequently sung doxology is often simply referred to as ‘The Doxology’ and, although it’s a very brief text, it does, in fact, eloquently declare the doctrine of the Trinity:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The term ‘doxology’ doesn’t appear in the Bible but Scripture is replete with them. The final verse(s) of each of the five books in the Psalms end with a doxology (Psalms 41,72,89,106, 150) and, in fact, the whole of Psalm 150 serves as a doxology for the entire collection. Psalm 117 – the shortest Psalm – also qualifies, in and of itself.
The New Testament too contains a number of doxologies including, for example; ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.’ (Ephesians 1:3)
Doxologies serve two complementary functions.
– They represent the highest form of praising God and acknowledging His many blessings. (See Romans 11:33-36 and Ephesians 3:20-21)
– They also underline our concept of God, frequently making reference to co-equality of the three Persons of the Triune Godhead. (See Matthew 28:19)
It truly is a lovely thing to sing doxologies and they form a valuable and integral part of any Christian repertoire. They’re equally as effective in private, family, and corporate worship.
See also : Praise God from Whom all blessings flow