How Great Thou Art (hymn)

How Great Thou Art (hymn)

How Great Thou Art is a Christian hymn written by Carl Gustav Boberg in Sweden in 1885, translated into English by Stuart K. Hine. It was popularized by George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows during Billy Graham crusades. [Kurian, G. T. (2001). "Nelson's new Christian dictionary: The authoritative resource on the Christian world". Nashville: Thomas Nelson.]

This hymn was the title track of Elvis Presley's second gospel LP "How Great Thou Art", which was released in 1967. The song won him a Grammy Award for "Best Sacred Performance" in 1967, and another Grammy in 1974 for "Best Inspirational Performance (Non-Classical)", [ [ Grammy Award search engine] ]

Boberg wrote the hymn following a two mile walk through a thunderstorm from a church meeting. [Tan, P. L.: "Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers.", Bible Communications, 1996, c1979]

It was voted the United Kingdom's favourite hymn by BBC's "Songs of Praise." [Bradley, Ian: "All Things That Give Sound," in "Not Angels, But Anglicans: A History of Christianity in the British Isles", ed. Henry Chadwick (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2000), 208.]

For additional information, musicology, and references, see Carl Gustav Boberg.

Commonly Used English Lyrics

*"Verse 1:":O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder :Consider all the works Thy hands have made. :I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, :Thy power throughout the universe displayed.:"Refrain:"::Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee; ::How great Thou art, how great Thou art! ::Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee: ::How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

*"Verse 2:":When through the woods and forest glades I wander :And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; :When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur :And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze: :"(Repeat Refrain.)"

*"Verse 3:":And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, :Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; :That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, :He bled and died to take away my sin: :"(Repeat Refrain.)"

*"Verse 4:":When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation :And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! :Then I shall bow in humble adoration, :And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!:"(Repeat Refrain.)"

Original Swedish Lyrics for the English Verses above

*"Verse 1:":O store Gud, när jag den värld beskådar,:Som du har skapat med ditt allmaktsord,:Hur där din visdom väver livets trådar,:Och alla väsen mättas vid ditt bord.:"Refrain:"::Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:::O store Gud! O store Gud!::Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:::O store Gud! O store Gud!

*"Verse 2:":När sommarvinden susar över fälten,:När blommor dofta invid källans rand,:När trastar drilla i de gröna tälten,:Vid furuskogens tysta, dunkla rand;:"(Repeat Refrain.)"

*"Verse 3:":När jag i bibeln skådar alla under,:Som Herren gjort se’n förste Adams tid,:Hur nådefull Han varit alla stunder,:Och hjälpt sitt folk ur livets synd och strid;:"(Repeat Refrain.)"

*"Verse 4:":När slutligt alla tidens höljen falla,:Uti åskådning byter sig min tro,:Och evighetens klara klockor kalla,:Min frälsta ande till dess sabbatsro;:"Final refrain:":Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud::Tack store Gud! Tack store Gud!:Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud::Tack store Gud! Tack store Gud!

Other Verses

Boberg's entire poem appears (with archaic Swedish spellings) at Presented below are two of those verses which appear (more or less loosely) translated [The translator was Stuart K. Hine, per the Wikipedia article on Carl Boberg. See especially, in that article, the section on "Translation and Migration of the Song."] in British hymnbooks, followed in each case by the English. [From Albert E. Wynstanley & Graham A. Fisher, editors, (1995), "Favourite Hymns of the Church" (Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire: Eye-Opener Publications), ISBN 0-9514359-1-4, Item 14.]

När tryckt av synd och skuld jag faller neder,
Vid Herrens fot och ber om nåd och frid.
Och han min själ på rätta vägen leder,
Och frälsar mig från all min synd och strid.

When burdens press, and seem beyond endurance,
Bowed down with grief, to Him I lift my face;
And then in love He brings me sweet assurance:
'My child! for thee sufficient is my grace'.

När jag hör dårar i sin dårskaps dimma
Förneka Gud och håna hvad han sagt,
Men ser likväl, att de hans hjälp förnimma
Och uppehållas af hans nåd och makt.

O when I see ungrateful man defiling
This bounteous earth, God's gifts so good and great;
In foolish pride, God's holy Name reviling,
And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgment wait.

Swedish hymnals frequently include the following verse: [From Torgny Erséus & Sten-Sture Zettergren, editors, (1987), "Psalmer och sånger" (Örebro: Bokförlaget Libris; Stockholm: Verbum Förlag), ISBN 91-7194-630-6 / ISBN 91-526-4470-7, Item 10.]

När jag hör åskans röst och stormar brusa
Och blixtens klingor springa fram ur skyn,
När regnets kalla, friska skurar susa
Och löftets båge glänser för min syn----

That verse----with thunder, storms, lightning (which springs out of the sky like sparks from the sharp rasping blade of a saw), cold rain, showers, wind, and the rainbow of promise----is impressive for its use of concrete expressions but presses the envelope of transcendental sentimentality even in Swedish, bears significant redundance with other statements in the poem, and rarely if ever finds a translated home in post-modern English hymnody, which is less prone than 19-century Swedish to dwell on the stark freshness of nature. Nonetheless it may be the verse which most concretely describes Boberg's plodding damp walk home from church in 1885.


wedish Wikipedia links

*"O store Gud"

*Carl Boberg

External links

* [ Lyrics in Swedish, English and German, with a subsequent link to Japanese]
* [ A MIDI of the tune to the hymn and the Swedish Lyrics.]
* [ Manna Music page on the hymn]

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