Bible Verse: “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small.” Psalm 104:24-25

Scripture Reading: Psalm 19: 1-6

What is it about the natural world that fills us with awe? I often wonder if it’s because we are made in God’s image, one creator appreciating the work of The Creator.

Mostly it’s baffling to listen to the scientists and astronomers searching the heavens for signs of life. How can they deny God’s existence and not be undone by the majesty and wildness of God’s creation?

I would love to have been there when Carl Boberg was inspired to write “How Great Thou Art”.

The story goes that in 1885 he was awestruck by the sound of church bells ringing amidst the fury of a thunderstorm.

Carl Boberg had left the sailor’s life behind and was serving as a minister in Sweden when he wrote the poem, originally titled, “O Great God.”

However, his words wouldn’t catch on until people put them to a traditional Swedish melody. He was flattered by the move, and, as a newspaper publisher by the time 1891 rolled around, he published them in his own paper with musical notation.

Decades later, his hymn was heard by English missionary Stuart Hine while in Poland. So delighted by the hymn, he translated it into English, tweaking the words slightly to the now famous, “How Great Thou Art.”

Unfortunately, Boberg wasn’t able to live long enough to see how his expression of awe during that thunderstorm would reach the world.

In 1954 the song became a favourite of George Beverly Shea, who sang it approximately 100 times during the Billy Graham crusade in 1957 in New York. In 1959, the hymn would become the theme song for Graham’s weekly radio show.

Writing for Crosswalk, Jason Soroski says, “How astonishing that this song, recorded over 1,800 times in the last 50 years, had its origins as a poem in a small town in Sweden, written by a sailor turned lay-minister, and somehow wound its way around the globe.”

I think part of the hymn’s incredible staying power is our need for wonder. Any time we begin to doubt God’s ability or feel overwhelmed by our circumstances, it’s comforting to remember the God we serve, and his overwhelming love for us.

Next time you sing the timeless words, imagine Boberg, mouth agape, rain slashing down as the clanging churchbells clash with the thunder and lightning, and remember we serve a good and powerful God.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

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!

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 see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

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!

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.

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!

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 then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

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!

— Steven Sukkau, Promise Keepers Canada


Copyright © 2020 Promise Keepers Canada. All rights reserved.

Show Comments ()