“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty”

They disagreed.  Some took the position that Jesus was “begotten” of God the Father from his own being and therefore had no beginning.  Others believed that Jesus was created out of nothing, therefore having a beginning.  They couldn’t agree when Easter was to be celebrated.  They couldn’t even agree how to run the church.  And so in the year 325 CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine I called all 1,800 bishops in the Roman Empire to Nicaea to create a uniform Christian doctrine.  We don’t know how many bishops were able to attend the month-long gathering, but the numbers range from 250 to 318.  If the orthodox contingent wasn’t the largest, they certainly were the most influential, for all of their proposals were eventually accepted.  This gathering came to be known as the First Council of Nicaea, and the summation of beliefs they wrote is known to us as the Nicene Creed.

Reginald Heber (1783-1826) was an English hymn writer, vicar, bishop and missionary.  Believing that the sermon, hymns and liturgy of a service should all have a common theme, he wrote hymns connected with the Epistles and Gospels to be sung after the speaking of Nicene Creed in the worship service.  The hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy!” was written for use on Trinity Sunday.

In 1861, John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876) wrote the hymn tune specifically to go with Heber’s text.  Dykes named the tune NICAEA as a tribute to the First Council of Nicaea which formalized the doctrine of the Trinity.