Song: Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
Author: Thomas Ken, 1637-1711
Composer: Louis Bourgeois, 1510-1561
Tune Name: “Old Hundredth”
Download Music: Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
Themes: Adoration, Praise, Benediction
Psalm 100 – Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the LORD, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts will praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations. (Ps47:6-7, Ps72:15, Ps 103, 109:30, 148, 150, Prov28:20)
The four lines of the Doxology have been the most frequently sung words of any known song for more than three hundred years. It has been said that the Doxology has done more to teach the doctrine of the Trinity than all the theological books ever written. It has often been called “the Protestant Te Deum Laudamus.”
The author of this text was a bold, outspoken 17th century Anglican Bishop named Thomas Ken. Born in England in 1637, he was left an orphan in early childhood, and was educated at Winchester School where he was raised by his older sister and her famous husband, Izaak Walton, distinguished in history as the most eminent angler of his time. Ken attended Oxford University/was ordained in 1662 to the ministry of the Church of England. Following ordination, he served as a chaplain to the Bishop of Winchester. In 1679, he was sent to Holland as the English chaplain at the royal court of Hague. Ken, however, was so outspoken in denouncing the corrupt lives of those in authority within the Dutch capital that he was compelled to leave the following year.
Upon his return to England, King Charles II appointed Ken as one of his own chaplains. Again, Ken continued in the same spirit of boldness, rebuking the moral sins of his dissolute monarch. Despite these rebukes, Charles always admired the courageous chaplain, and referred to him as “the good little man.” When it was chapel time, he would usually say, “I must go in and hear Ken tell me my faults.” King James II pronounced him the most eloquent preacher among the Protestants of his time. Ken was one of the seven bishops who refused to read the Declaration of Indulgence, and were imprisoned in the Tower by James for their refusal, but triumphantly acquitted on their trial.
Bishop Ken wrote a number of hymns, and it was always his desire that Christians be allowed to express their praise to God without being limited only to Psalmody and the Bible canticles. He was one of the first English writers to produce hymns that were not merely versifications of the Psalms. In 1673, Thomas Ken wrote a book entitled A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College. Within it, Ken included 3 of his hymns that he wanted the students to sing each day as part of their devotions. These hymns were called “Morning Hymn,” “Evening Hymn,” and “Midnight Hymn.”
Each of these hymns closed with the familiar 4 lines of the Doxology. Two of the verses from the Morning Hymn became especially popular:
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily course of duty run
Shake off dull sloth, and early rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.
Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say;
That all my power, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.