“Before Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts, there was Thomas Ken who has been called “England’s first hymnist.” He was enrolled as a youth in Winchester College, and after being ordained returned there as a chaplain.
To encourage devotional habits with the boys, he wrote three hymns in 1674. English hymns had not yet appeared as only Psalms were sung in public worship. One hymn was to be sung in the morning. “Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run..,” one in the evening, “All praise to Thee, my God, this night, for all the blessings of the light!”, and a third to be sung at midnight if the boys had trouble sleeping. All three hymns ended with a common stanza, which we all know as the “Doxology,” (the word “Doxology,” by the way, means “oral expression of praise and glorification.”)
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.
Thomas was imprisoned for a time in the Tower of London for his Protestant convictions. He retired after his release and when he died, the Doxology was sung at his funeral.
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. ~Thomas Ken