The Doxology

Our family’s Thanksgiving blessing always begins with the Doxology—that brief piece of music so familiar to churchgoers as to be unnoticed. This year I reflected on how much is crammed into those four overlooked lines.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. All four lines invite (and command) us to praise, beginning with a statement of who. Whom should we praise? Praise a god known by all blessings. We are  not told to praise God the judge or God the creator, but God from whom all good things come. Blessings flow from him as water from a spring, as light from the sun. Such he is; such he is known by. This God of blessing is our fundamental orientation.

Praise Him all creatures here below. Who praises him? We are not alone. Rather we join the chorus with all creatures on earth. Whether we hear it or not, the others are praising God already—the bears in the forest, the salmon in the sea, the turkey vultures soaring over our heads, even the tiny microbes in the soil. All sing praise to God with all their being, as we join in.

Praise Him above you heavenly host. Above us, in the heavens, is an army also singing praise. Angels make their glorious noise, joined by those who have left us already. My mother and father sing in that army, which has for its weapons no violence and no death but only such as God makes use of—love, joy, faithfulness, peace.

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost. We end as we began—who? Whom do we praise? The God from whom all blessings flow is not a simple God, but unthinkably complex, elegant and incomprehensible in all his parts, Three in One. Such beauty calls for our best song: the chord of notes that blend into one single sound, resounding from earth and heaven, from all creatures seen and unseen.

Amen.

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