Hallowed be thy Name


In the Lord’s Prayer the words “in earth as it is in Heaven” go, not only with “Thy will be done”, but also with “Hallowed be thy Name” and “Thy Kingdom come”.  So it is really, “May thy name be hallowed in earth as it is in Heaven”.

The word hallow is connected with the word holy.  So the feast of All Hallows is the same as the Feast of All Saints, those holy people who are now with God in Heaven.  So to hallow means to treat as holy, to treat with reverence and honour.

God’s Name

But to hallow God’s Name means more than treating God’s name reverently. It also means treating him reverently.  You cannot separate the name of a person from the actual person.  If I mention, for example, Lord Nelson, you do not think of the letters which form his name but of the great admiral himself and what he did for England.  So, when we say the Name of God, we refer, not to the letters of his Name, but to him and of what he has done for us.

Or you can look at it this way.  If a man has a good name in a place, it means that the people think and speak well, not of his name, but of him because they believe he is a good man; but if he has a bad name, it means people believe him to be a bad man, or a bad character, as we say.

So God’s Name means God as he has made himself known to us; and to hallow God’s name means to treat him, as well as his name, with reverence and honour.

Honouring God in worship

The first way by which we honour God is by worshipping him in his church, and in fact the Catechism (to be found in the Prayer Book just after Baptism) explains the words, “Hallowed be Thy Name”, by saying ”that we may worship him … as we ought to do”. (1) Notice the words “as we ought to do”, because, just as one honours God by worshipping him well, so one can dishonour him by worshipping him badly.  Indeed, you can often tell what people think of God even by the way they come into church.

For this church belongs to God in a very special way.  It has stood here since (date) which means that for about (age of church) years it has been set apart for God and God alone.  We call it “our” church, but remember that it was God’s church before ever it was ours, and it will be his church still long after it has ceased to be ours.  It was built first for him, and only secondarily for us, and so everything we hear and say in it is to do with him, or should be.  So all our services are held for his honour and glory, not for our enjoyment.  Even the sermons and talks are in the end intended for the honour of God because they are meant to help people know, love and serve him better so that he may be better honoured by their love, devotion and obedience.

So you see that the church is God’s House.  And we show our love for him by behaving reverently in his House, bowing to the altar or genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament and so going to our places.  Sometimes one sees people singing hymns or going up for Communion with their hands in their pockets, or saying the prayers with their arms folded.  This is not showing reverence to God.

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