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Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship? #11 - The Doxology and the Gloria Patri


Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship?

#11 — The Doxology and the Gloria Patri

The order of worship here at Grace and Peace looks just about the same every week. While the structure may be constant, the content varies each week as can be seen in the different calls to worship, hymns, confessions of sin and faith, Scripture readings, sermons, and benedictions. Though diverse, all of these elements of worship are nonetheless Biblical in content and chosen to establish and strengthen God’s gathered people in the faith that they have been given.

In the midst of this good and biblically healthy diversity, there are two things that for the most part have remained the same. They are the Doxology and the Gloria Patri, two short Trinitarian formulas put to music that have been sung by the church for centuries. Singing them is a glorious expression of our faith in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as well as our unity with the church in all times and places.

As we’ve been saying, the gospel shapes not only the individual life of a believer but also the corporate life and worship of the church. Because the gospel is a message that calls for a response, our order of worship at Grace and Peace can be understood as a dialogue between God and His people. Our response to the gospel is much more but certainly nothing less than giving thanks and praise to God.

Singing both the Doxology and the Gloria Patri is a way in which corporately we can remember and thus respond appropriately to God’s gracious work on behalf of His people. Both are doxologies, or short verses that begin with the Greek word doxa, translated into Latin as gloria and into English as glory or praise.

The Doxology is a hymn of praise written in 1709 with roots stretching back to at least the 7th Century. We sing it following the giving of our gifts and offerings, and in doing so we express our praise to God for His multi-faceted provision for His people and church.

The Gloria Patri is a song of praise to God, and we often sing it toward the end of our worship service to remind us that our chief, our supreme, our ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (Psalm 16:11, Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Westminster Shorter Catechism Q & A #1). It has its roots in the 4th Century battles for the doctrine of the Trinity and expresses our worship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In particular, it emphasizes the eternal origins an never-ending (“world without end”) glory of God.

To be sure, there is always the danger of singing these two hymns without any thought or reflection, having our lips move but not our hearts (Isaiah 29:13-14, Mark 7:6). However, for those whose hearts have been melted and are being moved by the gospel, giving thanks to God and praising Him for who He is and for what He has done for us through Jesus Christ not only brings much glory to Him but also does much good for His people (Psalm 147:1).