AskDefine | Define doxology

Dictionary Definition

doxology n : a hymn or verse in Christian liturgy glorifying God

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  1. An expression of praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of a Christian worship service.


Extensive Definition

A doxology (from the Greek doxa, glory + logos, word or speaking) is a short hymn of praise to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns. The tradition derives from a similar practice in the Jewish synagogue.

Trinitarian doxology

Among Christian traditions a doxology is typically a sung expression of praise to the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is common in high hymns for the final verse to take the form of a doxology. Doxologies occur in the Eucharistic prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, hymns and various Catholic devotions such as novenas and the Rosary.

Gloria Patri

main Glory Be to the Father
The Gloria Patri, so named for its first two words in Latin, is commonly used as a doxology by Roman Catholics,Old Catholics, Independent Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and many Protestants including Lutherans, Methodists, and Reformed Baptists. It is called the "Lesser Doxology", thus distinguished from the "Great Doxology" Gloria in Excelsis Deo, and is often called simply "the doxology". As well as praising God, has been regarded as a short declaration of faith in the co-equality of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.
The Latin text,
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et in semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
is literally translated
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and always, to the ages of ages. Amen.
"Saecula saeculorum", here rendered "ages of ages", is the translation of what was probably a Semitic idiom, via Koine Greek, meaning "forever." It is also rendered "world without end" in archaic English, which has the same meaning. That phrase occurs in the King James Bible (cf. Eph. 3:21; Isa. 45:17). Similarly, "et semper" is often rendered "and ever shall be", giving the more metrical English version
... As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
The common Liturgy of the Hours doxology, as approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, uses a different translation of the same Latin:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
The most commonly encountered Orthodox English version:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen
The modern Anglican version (found in Common Worship) is slightly different:
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.

"Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow"

Another doxology in widespread use in English, in some Protestant traditions commonly referred to simply as "The Doxology" and in others as “The Common Doxology”, is "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow". The words are thus:
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.
This hymn was written in 1674 by Thomas Ken, a priest in the Church of England. This hymn was originally the final verse of two longer hymns entitled "Awake, My Soul, and With the Sun," and "Glory to thee, my God, this night", written by Ken for morning and evening worship, respectively. It is usually sung to the tune Old 100th, but also to Duke Street by John Hatton, Lasst uns erfreuen, and The Eighth Tune by Thomas Tallis, among others. Many Mennonite churches, especially those comprised primarily of ethnic Mennonites, sing a longer and more highly embellished version of this doxology to the tune "Dedication Anthem" by Lowell Mason. This version more fully utilizes the a capella harmonizing for which Mennonite services are known.
Ken wrote this hymn at a time when the es­tab­lished church be­lieved on­ly Script­ure should be sung as hymns, with an em­pha­sis on the Psalms. Some con­sid­ered it sin­ful and blas­phe­mous to write new lyr­ics for church mu­sic, akin to ad­ding to the Script­ures. In that at­mo­sphere, Ken wrote this and sev­er­al other hymns for the boys at Win­chest­er Col­lege, with strict in­struct­ions that they use them on­ly in their rooms, for pri­vate de­vo­tions. Iron­ic­al­ly, the last stan­za has come into wide­spread use as the Dox­ol­o­gy, per­haps the most fr­equent­ly used piece of mu­sic in pub­lic wor­ship. At Ken’s request, the hymn was sung at his fun­er­al, fit­tingly held at sun­rise.
To be more gender-neutral in references to the Godhead, denominations such as the Disciples of Christ have altered the wording of The Doxology, replacing "Him" with "God" and "Father" with "Creator". Other versions, such as in the Canadian Anglican hymnal Common Praise, the United Church of Canada hymnal Voices United, and the United Church of Christ New Century Hymnal, make the aforementioned changes and others as well, such as replacing "heavenly host" with a reference to God's love. For example, the United Church of Christ version has been revised to:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God for all that love has done;
Creator, Christ, and Spirit, One.
Supporters and detractors of such changes mirror the more general controversies regarding gender-neutral language and liberal theology.

Eucharistic Doxology

In the Eucharistic Prayers I- IV of the Mass of Paul VI the doxology concludes the Eucharistic Prayer itself and precedes the Lord's Prayer and is typically sung by the presiding priest (accompanied by the concelebrating priests if there are any). The text of the Eucharistic Doxology:
Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours Almighty Father, forever and ever. Amen.
-The Roman Missal, 2002

Other doxologies

Doxologies do not all refer to a co-equal Trinity, and some do not refer to the Trinity at all. An early variation on the Gloria Patri ("Glory be to the Father, with the Son, through the Holy Spirit") was originally used by the Orthodox along with the more familiar wording, but this came to be used exclusively by the Arians and others who denied the divinity of the Son and Holy Spirit.
While also not specifically Trinitarian, another doxology sung to the tune of Old 100th is the familiar table prayer:
Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
These mercies bless and grant that we (Or, alternatively, :Thy people bless and grant that we
May strengthened for Thy service be (Or, alternatively, May feast in Paradise with Thee. Also, May feast in fellowship with Thee. Also, May live in fellowship with Thee.)
Yet another familiar doxology is the phrase at the end of the traditional Lord's Prayer as recorded in Matthew 6:13 (not found in some ancient manuscripts; a possible allusion to 1 Chronicles 29:11-12): "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen."
At Matins, Orthodox worship specifies a Great Doxology for feast days and a Small Doxology for ordinary days. (Both include the Gospel doxology Gloria in Excelsis of the angel's (Luke 2:14): Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill among men.) A substantial portion of this doxology comprises the prayer Gloria in excelsis of the Roman Catholic mass.
In Unitarian Universalism, "the Doxology" refers to Curtis W. Reese's adaptation of "From all that dwell below the skies", an 18th-century hymn by Isaac Watts:
From all that dwell below the skies
let faith and hope with love arise;
let beauty, truth, and good be sung
through every land, by every tongue.
Sung to the tune of Old 100th, it occupies a place in a Unitarian service that would be filled by a Christian doxology in a Christian service.


Because some Christian worship services include a doxology, and these hymns therefore were familiar and well-practiced among church choirs, the English word sockdolager arose, a deformation of doxology, which came to mean a "show-stopper", a production number. The Oxford English Dictionary considers it a "fanciful" coinage, and refers to an 1893 speculation reported in the Chicago Tribune as to the origin of the word as one of its early attestations:
A writer in the March Atlantic gives this as the origin of the slang word "socdollager," which was current some time ago. "Socdollager" was the uneducated man's transposition of "doxologer, which was the familiar New England rendering of "doxology." This was the Puritan term for the verse ascription used at the conclusion of every hymn, like the "Gloria," at the end of a chanted psalm. On doctrinal grounds it was proper for the whole congregation to join in the singing, so that it became a triumphant winding up of the whole act of worship. Thus is happened that "socdollager" became the term for anything which left nothing else to follow; a decisive, overwhelming finish, to which no reply was possible.



Hymns of the Spirit Three Contains numerous "doxologies" to the tune OLD HUNDREDTH used in the Unitarian, Universalist and liberal Christian traditions, in English, Spanish and French.
doxology in German: Doxologie
doxology in Spanish: Doxología
doxology in Esperanto: Doksologio
doxology in French: Doxologie
doxology in Indonesian: Doksologi
doxology in Italian: Dossologia
doxology in Dutch: Doxologie
doxology in Japanese: 頌栄
doxology in Norwegian: Doksologi
doxology in Polish: Doksologia
doxology in Russian: Доксология
doxology in Slovak: Doxológia
doxology in Finnish: Doksologia
doxology in Swedish: Doxologi
doxology in Chinese: 三一頌

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Agnus Dei, Benedicite, Gloria, Gloria Patri, Gloria in Excelsis, Introit, Magnificat, Miserere, Negro spiritual, Nunc Dimittis, Te Deum, Trisagion, Vedic hymn, alleluia, answer, anthem, antiphon, antiphony, cantata, canticle, chant, chorale, church music, gospel, gospel music, hallelujah, hosanna, hymn, hymn of praise, hymn-tune, hymnody, hymnography, hymnology, introit, laud, mantra, mass, motet, offertory, offertory sentence, oratorio, paean, passion, prosodion, psalm, psalmody, recessional, report, requiem, requiem mass, response, responsory, sacred music, spiritual, versicle, white spiritual
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