NOTE: This hymn is also known as “Glory to Thee, My God, This Night.”
The author of this hymn was Thomas Ken (1637-1711), a bishop in the Church of England—often considered to be the father of English hymnody.
Ken’s musical ability was evident even in his days as a student at Winchester College. Once he was serving as a pastor, he devoted himself to an avocation of hymn-writing. “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night” is one of the hymns that Bishop Ken wrote for use by students at Winchester College.
The students sang morning hymns, evening hymns, and midnight hymns. This hymn was written to be sung at evening or midnight. It praises God for blessings received during the day—asks forgiveness for sins committed during the day—requests a sleepful night as preparation for the new day—and ends with the famous doxology, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow” (also known simply as “The Doxology”), the most-sung hymn-verse in the English language.
Bishop Ken a courageous man who was willing to take an unpopular stand in the pursuit of righteousness. He provoked William of Orange by insisting that William keep a promise of marriage. He later was among a group of seven bishops who refused to publish King James’ “Declaration of Indulgence.” He was arrested, imprisoned, and tried, but was acquitted.
If his only gift to us had been the last verse of this hymn (“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow…”) his place in the history of the church would be assured. His courage in the face of power further endears him to us.
Copyright, 2014, Richard Niell Donovan