The Doxology in Season

a liturgical note from the Music Committee

At All Souls, we sing the Doxology during the presentation of offerings as a response to the generosity of the parish and the provision of God. Since offerings are presented during all eucharistic services, this is a standard part of most All Souls services throughout the church year.

The text of the Doxology originates in a 17th century Anglican hymn, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun”, by Thomas Ken. During Trinitytide, we will pair this text with the 16th century tune, Old Hundredth, that most people associate with the Doxology and is also used for the paraphrase of Psalm 100, “All people that on earth do dwell.” Since the Doxology is used throughout the year, the music committee felt that employing seasonal musical variation would contextualize this common text in each season and keep it fresh musically. This variation is in keeping with similar seasonal variation for the Gloria, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei. Attentive singers may have noticed that during Eastertide we sang the Doxology to the tune of Lasst Uns Erfreuen, which is commonly associated with “All creatures of our God and King.”

Hymns are poems

A note about hymn meter: have you ever been in a church service and noticed that you were singing a hymn text that you knew, but were singing it to a tune that was new to you? This is made possible by the wonder of poetic meter. Hymns texts are poems! Each line of the poem has a consistent number of syllables, rhyming pattern, and sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables. This gives the poem a particular bounce or rhythm. 

Matching the meter

Church hymn singing relies on poetical meter for the matching of music to word. The Doxology is in Long Metre ( That is, the Doxology has four lines, and each line has 8 syllables. For any poetry wonks here, Long Metre is a quatrain in iambic tetrameter. Armed with this knowledge, the “Index of Meter” in our hymn book (all better hymn books have one of these indices) can provide options for a tune with the same meter. One that has a musical rhythm that supports the stressed and unstressed syllables of the poetry, fits the tone of the liturgical season, and is familiar to the congregation provides a worthy candidate for use.

As with all seasonal music variations, we hope that the tune changes for Doxology will allow you to sing this great, old Anglican text with fresh appreciation in the context of each season of the church year.

The hymn tunes chosen for each liturgical season:

  • Advent – Veni Emmanuel
  • Christmas & Epiphany – Winchester New
  • Lent – Silence is kept.
  • Easter through Pentecost – Lasst Uns Erfreuen
  • Trinity Sunday through Trinitytide – Old Hundredth

For more information about the Doxology text and Old Hundredth, check out these two articles:

History of “Awake my soul and with the sun

History of Old Hundredth