Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” (v. 4, NRSV)
Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you,
A great hymn of our faith, and my father’s favorite hymn is How Great Thou Art (The United Methodist Hymnal #77). Words and music by Stuart K. Hine, 1953.
Here are the words of the Refrain:
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;
How great thou art, how great thou art!
The hymn has German, Swedish, and Russian sources. It was popularized by the Billy Graham Crusades and proclaims the wonder and greatness of God’s creation. Sheet music for How Great Thou Art had a purple-colored picture of George Beverly “Bev” Shea on the cover. My mother played it on the piano and my father sang along. “Bev” got permission to change two of the author’s original words: “works” to “worlds” and “mighty” to “rolling.” He thought stanza 1 would sing better that way:
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds they hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Stanza 2 is filled with the wonder of God’s creation:
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.
The wonder in stanza 3 is the gift of God’s Son and sacrifice for our salvation:
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.
The final stanza proclaims the joy of going home to be with God:
When Christ shall come with shout 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!
Then sings my soul rings out after each stanza. The melody rises as if we are being lifted to heaven to sing with the angels.
God’s grace through Jesus Christ is the gospel message. How Great Thou Art proclaims joyful news—the good news of salvation—the story of Jesus and God’s love!
O Lord, our God! All creation is filled with your majesty, goodness, grandeur, and greatness. We thank you for sending your Son to be our Savior. May your Holy Spirit fill our hearts with praise and renew our minds with joy. Transform our spirits to sing the story of your love and proclaim your faithfulness forever.