‘How Great Thou Art’

Melissa HendersonBy Melissa Henderson4 Minutes

The hymn “How Great Thou Art” has been known to bring tears, joy, and inspiration. Unique lyrics and heartfelt emotions are expressed in this beautiful song expressing love and admiration for God.

Songs of joy, praise, thanksgiving, lament, fear, and more are ways of showing how we feel about life situations. When happiness fills our hearts and homes, we sing joyful and uplifting tunes. When grief and sadness surround us, we can share our emotions through words and music containing haunting and sorrowful sounds.

At other times, we give praise to God by lifting our voices in thanksgiving. “How Great Thou Art” is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish hymn named “O Store Gud” written by Carl Boberg in 1885. The song has been translated into different languages and some verses have been changed by other musicians.

Born in August 1859, Boberg was the son of a carpenter. He served as a lay minister and editor of a weekly Christian newspaper, and is credited with publishing poems, hymns, and gospel songs.

Historians report that the words were inspired when Boberg listened to church bells ringing as he walked home from service. During his walk, a storm with lightning, thunder, and strong winds filled the air. Rain followed and when the storm was over, a rainbow appeared.

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9: 13-16, NIV).

The original words of the poem “O Store Gud,” by Carl Boberg, were the inspiration for missionary Stuart K. Hine to translate the words to English. He also added more verses.

Pausing to be still and noticing the creations of God can lead us to reflect on the many blessings He provides. From the grassy lands and the deep oceans to the first cry of a newborn baby, to the many answered prayers during times of uncertainty, to the everyday moments we share with God, we find His love in each situation.

The greatness of God surpasses anything we can understand or comprehend. His greatness is forever. God is always available and ready for conversation. He listens and hears every prayer.

This song speaks of the wonder of God and all He has created. The lyrics also remind us how God sent His precious Son to die for our sins. In the later part of the song, hope and joy are proclaimed when we realize the greatness of God.

The Old Testament book of Psalms includes a writing of David that shares the wonder and glory of God.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4 NIV).

Numerous musical artists have performed this beautiful song. The hymn is said to have been made more popular during the Billy Graham crusades.

Today, many church hymnals include “How Great Thou Art”. The song is shared on special occasions and in everyday worship service.

Have you praised God today with words and actions?

In His Name,

Melissa Henderson