How Great Thou Art (Strength in Hymn)


“How Great Thou Art”

Swedish poem by Carl Gustav Boberg (1885)
English translation and two verses by Stuart K. Hine (1920’s)

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 Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! 

How great thou art!

Then sings my soul, 
my Savior 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 hear the brook 
and feel the gentle breeze:



Then sings my soul, 
my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! 

How great thou art!

Then sings my soul, 
my Savior 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 Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! 

How great thou art!

Then sings my soul, 
my Savior 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 there proclaim, 
My God, how great thou art!


Then sings my soul, 
my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! 
How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, 
my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! 

How great thou art!

About the Hymn:  “How Great Thou Art” started out as a Swedish poem in 1885. In the early 1920’s, British missionary Stuart Hine was ministering in Poland and heard the words sung in Russian to the original Swedish melody. He translated it to English and added two verses, partly inspired by a hike in the Carpathian Mountains. Read more of the story here: HymnSite.

Why I Chose the Hymn: I first remember this from my teen years in the Presbyterian church, but I’ve probably sung it in every church I’ve been a member of since then.  It ranks as one of the all-time favorite Christian hymns, after “Amazing Grace.”  I was thinking of it recently in light of my love for nature as a means of communicating God’s glory and grace. I had it running through my head one evening as we passed by a lake on our way home from a church event. Two of my kids were bickering rather loudly. I asked them to stop, but I don’t think they heard me, or at least they weren’t paying attention. I thought, “Well then, Mama is just going to have to start singing!” And I did — loudly, to drown out the conflict. Miracle of miracles, within a minute or so, they stopped the argument. Blissful silence reigned, only broken by calm apologies from both parties. Was it the hymn? Maybe not, but I tend to think it helped. I know words like these help to quiet my soul when a storm is raging inside. Yesterday I had a rough time of it – lack of sleep, kids not cooperating with my dreams of a clean house, and yes, a bit more bickering. I finally fled the house in the evening and drove to our church’s ladies’ Bible study at the home of a friend, even though I hadn’t been in a year. I got there late, and stayed mostly silent during the study to keep my composure, but during prayer time, my tears flowed freely. The sweet ladies, some of them strangers to me, gathered around, laid hands on me, and prayed. They didn’t need to know everything going on, just that a sister in Jesus needed a wee bit of encouragement and intercession. When I arrived home again, I was greeted with warm embraces from some of my children. Though I love the beauties of nature – clouds, trees, birds, flowers, lakes, and more – I think God’s most awesome creation was human compassion and fellowship. That, and his Word, which assures us: “

That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, 

He bled and died to take away my sin.”  That’s enough to make a soul sing.

About the Photos:  I took these pictures while walking around Crane’s Roost, a suburban lake park. I like to take the time to really notice nature. I see the difference between the two palm trees.   One has great clumps of pollen on it; the other does not. They stand separately, but need each other for fruitfulness. I quietly followed the young blue heron as he strutted along the boardwalk and fluttered up to the railing. He evaded me with his amazing gift of flight. The squirrel, too, escaped my attentions by climbing a tree. Shadows, bare branches, small creatures, the vibrancy of purple pansies  and luminous yellow snap dragons, all there for us to enjoy. Glory to God. “How great Thou art!”

This post is part of my Strength in Hymn series, which combines vintage hymn lyrics, nature photography, and inspiration for those who have struggled in the Christian faith community.
Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

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About virginiaknowles

I am a mother and grandmother of a huge family, and I still home school my youngest daughter. I write to stay sane. My WordPress blog is a combination of my Blogspot blogs, and may not be continually updated.
This entry was posted in Bible~Theology, Jesus, Message of Salvation, Nature Photography, Strength in Hymn. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to How Great Thou Art (Strength in Hymn)

  1. Tonya says:

    i love hymns too so i can appreciate this post! and yes, how great He is!

  2. That is an all time favorite hymn, Virginia!! I liked your part of the story with your children. I'd like to think your singing helped bring a calm.

  3. What richness in these old works of praise and glory. Thanks, Virginia, for sharing these stirring words tonight. These are the songs that come to us in the night, that whisper peace and confidence to sleepless hearts …

  4. Martha Brady says:

    hi virginia, i found you on Sunday community. i enjoyed your post. i also put up hymns/songs on my blog on Tuesdays. they are helpful devotionally don't you think?

    sorry to hear of your bad church experiences. there is no question that is very painful.

    enjoy your writing:)

  5. jviola79 says:

    May we always sing, “how great Thou art” because He is and because He is worthy! Beautiful post!

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