Gloria Patri

11th February 2024

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Gloria Patri

Having researched the origins of the Doxology last week, I was prompted to do the same for the ‘Gloria Patri’, also known as the ‘Minor Doxology’ (above).  ‘Gloria Patri’ is Latin for ‘Glory to the Father’, which are the opening words. 

The words of the Gloria Patri will be familiar to those who know the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer.  They appear frequently, often in response to the reading of God’s word, for example after the Magnificat (Mary’s song, Luke 1:46-55), the Benedictus (Zechariah’s song, Luke 1:68-79) and the daily psalm.

It will be no surprise to learn that it has its origins in the early church and was originally written in Greek.  The line “as it was in the beginning” was added in the 4th century in response to the Arian controversy, to make the point that the Son and the Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.  It is an example of right doctrine informing heartfelt worship.

One writer remarks, “This move to contemplate the eternality of God’s glory calls us out of ourselves and our times, out of our “pressing” needs, out of our current anxieties, to meditate on the most sure and unwavering reality: the eternal glory of God.”

Both the Gloria Patri and the Doxology are fine examples of Christians in the past putting into practice what we are commanded in Scripture:
Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name;
worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness.
Psalm 29:1-2

A modern version of the Gloria Patri can be found in Keith and Kristyn Getty’s song The Lord is My Salvation, which contains these lines:

Glory be to God the Father,
Glory be to God the Son,
Glory be to God the Spirit;
The Lord is our Salvation.

And there is a metrical version of the full Gloria Patri (which makes it singable and therefore more memorable, which I find helpful):

Glory be to God the Father,
Glory be to God the Son,
Glory be to God the Spirit,
ever three and ever one:
As it was in the beginning,
now and evermore shall be.

Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)