Holy, Holy, Holy Lord

In previous posts I have highlighted two American Baptists who contributed to The Baptist Psalmody, published in 1850 by the Southern Baptist Publication Society and recommended for use in all the churches at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1851.

Benjamin Cleavland : #656 “O Could I Find from Day to Day”

Abram Poindexter: #880 “O Our Redeemer God”

You can download free sheet music (PDF) for Cleavland’s hymn here and Poindexter’s hymn here.

One of the men most instrumental in the publication of The Baptist Psalmody was Basil Manly, Jr. He and his father, Basil Manly, Sr. compiled the hymnal at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Basil Manly Jr. was born in Edgefield, South Carolina on December 19, 1825. In 1837 his father was appointed president of the University of Alabama and he moved with his family to Tuscaloosa. Basil Manly Jr. entered the University of Alabama when he was fourteen and graduated at the head of his class four years later. The Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa licensed him to preach on May 13, 1844 and he traveled to Newton Theological Institute to continue his education. He transferred to Princeton Theological Seminary and received a degree in 1847. In 1848 he took on the task of pastoring three country churches, two in Alabama and one in Mississippi. Then in 1850, the same year he and his father finished compiling and editing The Baptist Psalmody, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Richmond and served until 1854, when he resigned to become president of the Richmond Female Institute.

In 1858 Basil Manly Jr. left the Richmond Female Institute to teach on the faculty of the first Southern Baptist seminary. He was professor of Old Testament and Biblical Introduction from 1858 to 1871. Here he wrote his Abstract of Principles, “the oldest confessional statement prepared and adopted by any Southern Baptist group.” [1] Joe King concludes in A History of South Carolina Baptists:

Manly made no more enduring contribution to Southern Baptists than in his “Abstract of Principles,” drawn up at Boyce’s request and adopted as the theological foundation for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.[2]

Along with drafting the confessional statement for faculty members and serving on the faculty himself, Basil Manly Jr. was also instrumental in establishing the seminary. King describes Manly’s part in supporting Southern Baptist theological education:

For a decade, 1845–1855, periodic discussions were held by interested brethren in behalf of the seminary enterprise. Beginning at the initial meeting in 1845, such discussions were usually conducted in conjunction with the sessions of the Southern Baptist Convention. R.B.C. Howell and J.R. Graves were strong seminary advocates at the Nashville meeting of 1849. A cholera epidemic caused the Convention to adjourn to Charleston on May 23, where the seminary question was widely aired at a special and separate educational meeting. Editor James P. Boyce had just published in The Southern Baptist two extensive articles on the subject. Convention president William B. Johnson read “an elaborate essay” to the educational group favoring a central theological institution, and young Basil Manly, Jr. made a strong address in behalf of the project. The efforts of these three South Carolina native sons indicate her significant place in the seminary movement at this point.[3]

Manly also served as chairman of the student funds for Southern Seminary and president of its mission society (1871–1878) and as president of Georgetown College in Kentucky (1878–1892). He died in Louisville, Kentucky on January 31, 1892.

Basil Manly Jr. is significant for one other service to the Southern Baptist Convention. King explains:

Besides being author of a number of hymns and editor of a Baptist family magazine, Manly is credited with leading in the establishment of the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1863. The names of the Board’s first two officers, Manly as president and Broadus as secretary, were later abbreviated and combined in the naming of Broadman Press.[4]

Basil Manly, Jr. wrote about forty hymns; nine are included in The Baptist Psalmody. His hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord” strongly asserts our need for grace and imputed righteousness if we are to serve and worship a holy God. The hymn (#21 in The Baptist Psalmody) is also included in Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (#22) published by Founders Press.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord

1. Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of Hosts, in heaven adored,

Earth with awe has heard Thy name,

Men Thy majesty proclaim.

2. Just and true are all Thy ways,

Great Thy works above our praise;

Humbled in the dust, we own,

Thou art holy, Thou alone.

3. In Thy sight, the angel band

Justly charged with folly stand;

Holiest deeds of creatures lie

Meritless before Thine eye.

4. How shall sinners worship Thee,

God of spotless purity?

To Thy grace all hope we owe:

Thine own righteousness bestow.

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord”

Words by Basil Manly, Jr. (1850)

Music arranged from Georg C. Strattner by J.A. Freylinghausen (1705)

©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including a guitar chord chart, an arrangement of the hymn tune POSEN for classical guitar, and an arrangement for the tune for instrumental ensemble.


[1] Leon H. McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1987), 445.

[2] Joe M. King, A History of South Carolina Baptists, (Columbia, SC: General Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, 1964), 342.

[3] Ibid., 242.

[4] Ibid., 342.

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