Holy, Mighty, Worthy: Introduction

Because God delights in worship that is biblical, thoughtful and passionate—what we often call intentional—let me provide a quick overview of the biblical texts and doctrinal themes behind the hymn Holy, Mighty, Worthy:

Verse 1 rejoices in the holiness of God (discussed at length in this post) as it is revealed in Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. What is particularly striking about the worship of the seraphim in Isaiah 6 is their humility before God, despite the fact that they are sinless! Though they are not separated from God by sin (as Isaiah is), they are separated by Him by their creatureliness—there is none like God! Thus, God’s holiness doesn’t just describe His purity, but His absolute uniqueness. The verse closes with a prayer that we would share in God’s holiness (I Peter 1:15-16).

Verse 2 rejoices in God’s might, particularly as evidenced in His creative power. Thus, the biblical background for the verse is Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:19-20 (with a brief reference to John 1:3). Again, the verse ends with a prayer that we might partake of God’s matchless character, this time by seeing His power displayed.

Verse 3 rejoices in God’s worthiness. Obviously, the biblical allusion is to Revelation 4-5, where we learn that God the Father and the Risen Son are worthy of praise by virtue of Creation (Revelation 4) and Redemption (Revelation 5). Our great hope is expressed in the closing prayer that we will one day participate in the worship of heaven.

Verse 4 is the climax of the hymn, in which the church joins angels, creation, and heavenly hosts in bringing glory to our God and Savior. In line with Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 3:21, the church, called and saved as trophies displaying God’s great grace, gives glory to God alone (Isaiah 42:8). Indeed, all creation will join in bowing to Christ and giving glory to God alone (Philippians 2:9-11).

Rather than ending with a request, the hymn concludes with a doxology to the Triune God, expressing the writers’ desires that God alone would be glorified.

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