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.
Those four lines of text carry a lot of weight. Singing The Doxology in the postgame locker room is about as Concordia as ringing the bell after victories or getting engaged the summer before your senior year. Any visitors who have snuck into the locker room following a Bulldog football game will bear witness to this tradition, one that has endured since at least the 1970s.
The Doxology was written in 1674 by Thomas Ken, an English cleric who became known for his ability as a hymn writer. Ken included the four lines of text shown at the top as the final verse of two hymns, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun” and “Glory to thee, my God, this night.” The lyrics written by Ken have become something of an anthem as a way to praise God for His many blessings. The Doxology is widely used in public worship, but not necessarily in football locker rooms. That’s where Concordia’s unique environment comes into play.
According to past head football coaches John “Sid” Seevers (tenure lasted from 1970-76), Larry Oetting (1977-89) and Courtney Meyer (1990-2008), The Doxology really took hold within the program during the 1970s. As best as memories can place it, The Doxology really became a consistent staple of the postgame routine during Oetting’s head coaching tenure. It certainly could have been sung on occasion prior to that time.
Upon his promotion to the head coaching role leading up to the 2017 season, Daberkow re-emphasized the singing of The Doxology. Says Daberkow, “This is part of who we are in this program. The postgame Doxology has been part of some of my highest highs and lowest lows in this profession from an emotional standpoint. It definitely forces you to get a handle on reality and forces you to be grateful. Praising God after a win or loss is an overflow from the heart.”
A victorious locker room sang in jubilation on Sept. 28, 2019, after a hard-fought 16-14 homecoming triumph over Briar Cliff. Said Daberkow afterwards, “A winning locker room – that’s pretty special. I’ve always loved taking part in that.” But as Daberkow will tell you, The Doxology seems to make a larger impact after a loss. The act of praising God as a team can actually wash some of the sting of defeat away, if only for a few moments.
Coach Meyer has taken the lead on the singing of The Doxology hundreds of times as both a head coach and assistant coach at Concordia. Said Meyer, “It’s special because, whether you win or lose, you’re grateful as a person to be able to play the game and to give God the honor and the glory. That’s clear in the way that it reads – ‘praise God from whom all blessings flow.’ It’s something that’s a little more joyful to sing when you win. When you lose it helps put things into perspective. Everything you do, you do to glorify your Lord in winning or losing. That’s why it’s special to me.”
When revealed to the public on social media, the locker room scene routinely moves people in powerful ways. For alums who have their own memories associated with the song, the spectacle and the sound produces waves of raw emotion. A father of two sons who have played at Concordia, Roger Fitzke refers to it as the “best postgame in college football.”
Now the Chief of Staff at the University of Nebraska, Gerrod Lambrecht takes it a step further. The song pulls him back into the mid-1990s when he was the starting center for Coach Meyer. Said Lambrecht in a 2018 interview, “It makes me so happy to see that this tradition is still carried on today. Sometimes when I see it on social media it still almost brings me to tears. The singing of The Doxology in the postgame of every one of our games is one of those really neat and enduring traditions that I really respect. I remember it as an emotional experience then. It’s something you just don’t see in a lot of places.”
Larry Oetting joked that he would love to take credit for the tradition, but no one seems entirely sure who actually was the first to lead The Doxology after a game. The way Oetting explains it, he felt like he was simply carrying on the ritual. “There was no choice at all,” Oetting said. “It is a wonderful way to praise God and keep the focus on our main purpose. Football was important and winning was important, but this was a way of summarizing our purpose in life. The song went along with our prayers. We sang it win or lose.”
Added Oetting, “It was a way of incorporating everybody, no matter their faith or depth of faith. It was a beautiful way for us to join hands and sing. It pulled us together.”
At times, The Doxology has also been featured at the annual Concordia Invitational Tournament. One can’t help but be struck by the beauty of The Doxology as it emanates from the mouths of thousands of people. They may have come to the game with separate rooting interests but, for that moment, everyone is together as one, singing God’s praises.
When sung in harmony, The Doxology is truly a powerful thing. Sports Director for 10/11 News in Lincoln, Kevin Sjuts was struck by the moment when Walz Arena belted out The Doxology at the conclusion of the Concordia Invitational Tournament in 2017. Said Sjuts, “Everyone in the arena – players, fans and coaches sang the Doxology. It was beautiful, powerful and forced me to pause. It was a moment that revealed the heart of Concordia. And for me, it reminded me that I was on God's time, not mine. I will never forget that.”
Daberkow admits that the first time he experienced The Doxology in a team setting, he “didn’t really know what to think of it.” It didn’t take long for this action to become “highly charged” and “emotional.” Many Bulldogs would likely feel empty in some way if they left the locker room without singing The Doxology after a game.
Said Daberkow, “I think it sends a very clear message to our players, regardless of what happens and all that we work so hard for, God is still in control. The videos of The Doxology after we win are the ones that circulate on social media, but the ones that hit the hardest are the ones after you lose. We still praise God. He’s always at work in ways that we can’t see or comprehend. Singing The Doxology refocuses that reality.”
Meyer recalls a couple of particularly painful losses, after which the team stated the lyrics instead of actually singing them. Still, it was important to be aware of the greater purpose. Years later, such moments stand out, sometimes more than any touchdown, interception, block or tackle. At the Concordia football reunion ceremony that took place in 2016, attendants broke out in song twice while reminiscing about the days they used to sing The Doxology together as teammates.
“We don’t know how God’s going to use a win or a loss to mold us or shape us,” Daberkow said. “God’s in control. We are not. Blessings come from Him. Even when they don’t feel like blessings, sometimes things are blessings in disguise.”
Long live the postgame Doxology … Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!