“TO GOD BE THE GLORY”

Wayne S. Walker

“Give unto the Lord glory and strength.  Give unto the Lord the glory due
unto His name” (Ps. 29.1, 2)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which both expresses glory unto the Lord and
likewise encourages us to give glory to His name is “To God Be The
Glory.”  The text was written by Mrs. Frances Jane VanAlstyne, better
known by her maiden name which she used for her hymns, Fanny J. Crosby
(1820-1915).  The tune (Be the Glory) was composed by her frequent
collaborator, William Howard Doane (1832-1915).  The song was first
published in the 1875 collection “Brightest and Best” compiled by Doane
and Robert Lowry (1826-1899).

     Also included in that collection were “All the Way My Savior Leads
Me,” “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “Savior, More Than Life to Me,” and “Christ
Arose,” all of which were also used in many of the six volumes of “Gospel
Hymns” by Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908).  As a result they became extremely
popular.  “To God Be the Glory” was not included in any of the “Gospel
Hymns” series and was almost totally unknown in American until recently.
However, Sankey did include it in his “Sacred Songs and Solos” which was
published in England and is still in use there today.

     In 1952 Cliff Barrows, music director of the Billy Graham Crusade
team, was in England for crusades.  Frank Colquhoun suggested that the
song be included in their “London Crusade Song Book.”  Upon returning to
the United States, Barrows searched through some old song books and found
that it had been included several years ago but had been omitted in more
recent books.  He began using it around 1954 and it has become popular
since then.  It is interesting that this long-forgotten American gospel
song should have to be imported from England.  William J. Reynolds noted,
“An examination of Fanny J. Crosby’s text reveals an expression of
objectivity not usually found in gospel hymnody.  Here is a
straight-forward voicing of praise to God, not simply personal testimony
nor sharing some subjective aspect of Christian experience” (“Hymns of
Our Faith,” p. 217).

     This songs tells us several reasons why we should give glory to God.

I. Stanza 1 says that we should give Him glory for what He has done
 A. He has done “great things”: Deut. 10.21
 B. One of these “great things” is that He loved the whole world that He
gave us His Son: Jn. 3.16
 C. The reason why He did this was so that He could make an atonement for
sin: Rom. 5.11

II. Stanza 2 says that we should give Him glory for our great salvation
that we can have now
 A. Because He sent Jesus to make atonement for our sins, He has made
redemption available to sinful mankind: Eph. 1.3-7
 B. And this redemption is the result of the purchase of Christ’s blood:
Heb. 9.12-15
 C. The consequence of this redemption is that even the vilest offender
can receive pardon: 1 Tim. 1.12-16.  The original last two lines of
stanza 2 read:
“The vilest offender who truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon
receives.”
One could sing this with the understanding that the phrase “truly
believes” includes our obedience to the gospel of Christ.  However, to
many it may sound like “salvation at the moment of faith only,” so most
books used among churches of Christ alter it.  One of the first books
that I am aware of among us which used the song was Alton Howard’s “Songs
of the Church” (1975 edition) in which he changed it to “The vilest
offenderS who truly obey That moment may enter the heavenly way” (along
with other changes in the rhythm and harmony to be able to copyright it
as his own “arrangement” which have been continued in subsequent books
published by him).  Also in 1975, the supplement to the 1937 “Great Songs
of the Church” (originally published by E. L. Jorgenson) had, “The vilest
offender who truly believes Will surely from Jesus a pardon receive,” and
this is continued in “Great Songs Revised.”  Ellis J. Crum in his 1977
“Special Sacred Selections” made it read, “The vilest offender who truly
believes, When buried with Jesus, a pardon receives” (and “Hymns for
Worship” follows that change).  In the 1980 “Majestic Praise,” D. Norman
Henderson changed it to, “The vilest offender who truly believes, In
faithful obedience, a pardon receives.”  “Praise for the Lord,” edited in
1990 by John P. Wiegand, solves the problem by just omitting stanza 2!

III. Stanza 3 says that we should give Him glory for the hope that He
offers us in the future
 A. Great things He has taught us in His word so that we might prepare
our souls for our eternal destiny: 2 Tim. 3.16-17
 B. Also, because of this, great is our rejoicing through Jesus the Son
as a foretaste of our eternal home: Phil. 4.4
 C. But even greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we
shall see on that day when He returns: 1 Jn. 3:1-3  

     CONCL.:  The chorus continues the expression of praise to the Lord,
while encouraging all the earth to hear His voice, rejoice and come to
the Father through Jesus the Son to give Him the glory.  Both in the
praise that we ascribe to God, and in our lives of faithful obedience to
Him, may we always be saying, “To God Be The Glory.”

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