To God Be the Glory

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The best-loved expressions of praise for God’s care-taking work of his children comes from the familiar words of Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “My only comfort in life and death [is] that I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil...Because I belong to him, Christ by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes we wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”

This great truth is explained more completely by Belgic Confession, Article 20. God has given his Son to die for us “…by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him, we might have immortality and eternal life.” And in Article 21, “…He endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.” For this redemptive work we give praise and adoration.

Tune Information

G Major or modal
Meter refrain


Hymn Story/Background

Prodigious writer of hymn texts, Fanny J. Crosby wrote this hymn, which was first published with Doane's tune in Songs of Devotion (1870). This text and "Blessed Assurance" are among the best-known and most-loved hymn texts of the thousands Crosby produced. Initially ignored in the United States, the hymn was sung in British churches after its inclusion in Ira D. Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos (1903). Because of its use in the Billy Graham Crusades beginning in 1954, the hymn gained great popularity in Britain and Australia as well as in the United States.
In contrast to many gospel hymns (including the majority of Crosby's texts), “To God Be the Glory” directs our attention away from personal experience to the glory of God. God so loved the world that he gave us his Son to make atonement for sin (st. 1); all who believe in Christ will receive pardon (st. 2) and will rejoice now and through all eternity because of the "great things he has done" (st. 3). The refrain borrows its praise in part from the Old Testament psalms. The phrase "when Jesus we see" (st. 3) must have meant something special to Crosby, who was blinded when she was seven weeks old.
The strength of Crosby's text is enhanced by the cheerful gospel music of TO GOD BE THE GLORY, composed for this text by William H. Doane, writer of many tunes for Crosby's texts.
The rounded bar form tune (AABA) has a verse/refrain structure. Sing the harmony parts with joy and vigor. Be sure to distinguish clearly between the regular eighth rhythms and the dotted ones. Because the harmonic rhythm is slow, the singing tempo can be quite animated. Maintain one pulse per measure.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Fanny (Francis) Jane Crosby (b. Brewster, New York, March 24, 1820; d. Bridgeport, Conneticut, February 12, 1915) attended the New York City School for the Blind, where she later became a teacher. She began writing poetry when she was eight and publishing several volumes, such as A Blind Girl, and Other Poems (1844). Married to musician Alexander Van Alstyne, who was also blind, Crosby began writing hymn texts when she was in her forties. She published at least eight thousand hymns (some under various pseudonyms); at times she was under contract to her publisher to write three hymns a week and often wrote six or seven a day. Crosby's texts were set to music by prominent gospel song composers such as William B. Bradbury, William H. Doane, Robert S. Lowry, Ira D. Sankey, and William J. Kirkpatrick. Her hymns were distributed widely and popularized at evangelistic services in both America and Great Britain. Crosby was one of the most respected women of her era and the friend of many prominent persons, including presidents of the United States.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

An industrialist and philanthropist, William H. Doane (b. Preston, CT, 1832; d. South Orange, NJ, 1915), was also a staunch supporter of evangelistic campaigns and a prolific writer of hymn tunes. He was head of a large woodworking machinery plant in Cincinnati and a civic leader in that city. He showed his devotion to the church by supporting the work of the evangelistic team of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey and by endowing Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and Denison University in Granville, Ohio. An amateur composer, Doane wrote over twenty-two hundred hymn and gospel song tunes, and he edited over forty songbooks.
— Bert Polman

Author and Composer Information

This text is unique from Crosby’s other hymns because, rather than focus on our experience of God, the words are wholly about God and his perfect glory. In a sense, the hymn perfectly displaces us, removing us from the pedestal on which we so often place ourselves. This displacement is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. It feels very natural for us to seek attention, approval, and our own glory. We like to be in control and present our own image to the world, an image we seek to improve through any means possible. On the other hand, there is great comfort in knowing that the image we try to make for ourselves doesn’t matter. We are made in the image of God, which means that whatever we do has to bring him and him alone glory. Our lives are wrapped up in God, and so too are the mistakes we make, the wounds we inflict, and all of our shortcomings. These are the things we try to avoid while we maintain control of our lives. But what a joy and a comfort to know that though these things may happen, because God is ultimately in control, and because our own image does not matter, God is still glorified. While we should still try to live a holy and upright life, we should do so to bring God glory, not ourselves. What a beautiful freedom that is. 
— Bert Polman