Praise God, from whom all blessing flow

From “Then Sings My Soul…”



Thomas Ken (1637- 1711)

Before Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts, there was Thomas Ken who has been called “England’s first hymnist”. He was born in 1637 in Little Berkhampstead on the fringes of greater London. When his parents died, he was raised by his half-sister and her husband who enrolled him in Winchester College, an historic boys school. Thomas was later ordained to the Ministry and returned to Winchester as a chaplain.To encourage the devotional habits of the boys,Thomas wrote three hymns in 1674. This was revolutionary because English hymns had not yet appeared; only the Psalms were sung in public worship. Ken suggested the boys used the hymns privately in the rooms. One hymn was to be sung upon waking, another at bedtime, and the third at midnight if sleep didn’t come. His morning hymn had 13 stanzas, beginning with:

“Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run;

Shake off dull sloth and joyful rise, to pay thy morning sacrifice.”

His evening hymn, equally meaningful, included this verse:

“All praise to Thee, my God, this night, for all the blessings of the light!

Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, beneath Thine own almighty wings.”

All three hymns ended with a common stanza, which has since become the most widely sung verse in the world. The third verse of Thomas Ken’s hymn, separated from the rest of the piece and sung to the tune "Old 100th", "Duke Street", "Lasst uns erfreuen", or "The Eighth Tune" by Thomas Tallis, among others, became known in Protestant traditions as “The Doxology” or “The Common Doxology” and frequently marks the dedication of alms or offerings at Sunday worship. (A ‘doxology’ is a short hymn of praises to God used in various forms of Christian worship, often added to the end of songs, Psalms and hymns.) During the reign of King James II, Thomas, by now a Bishop, was sent to the Tower of London for his Protestant convictions.  After his release, Thomas retired to the home of a wealthy friend where he died on March 11, 1711. He was buried at sunrise, and the doxology was sung at his funeral. 

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him, all creatures here below,

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.