Whether it is fate, divine providence, or pure luck, “How Great Thou Art”‘s journey from rural Sweden to one of the world’s most beloved hymns can only be miraculous.
Hine published both his English translation and Russian original in Grace and Peace magazine, which was widely circulated the globe.
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How Great Thou Art was written and arranged by Stuart K. Hine for inclusion in Hymns Vol 1. Chord charts, lyrics, and more are found at the Psalmnote site. It was covered by Pentatonix in 2017, Carrie Underwood in 2018, and Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2012, among other artists.
Hine began penning this hymn during their missionary work in Russia during the early 1920s. Hearing an English translation of O Store Gud, set to an old Swedish folk melody, Hine decided to add his own English words and make new arrangements of the piece, finally completing and publishing his hymn in 1949 in Grace and Peace magazine.
This hymn has become one of the most iconic Christian songs ever, performed in over 12 languages and recorded by over 1,700 artists worldwide. Sung by three American presidents, featured in films and television shows, and recorded by over 1,700 artists – literary organizations have even recognized it as an influential historical hymn! “How Great Thou Art” remains one of the world’s best-known religious songs and touched millions around the globe through sermons, books, prayers, or just casual singing!
The hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” begins with a reflection on God’s greatness as creator and then continues in reverent contemplation of his magnificent works – celebrating God’s power while gazing upon stars with wonderment while listening intently for thunderclaps.
This hymn was initially composed in Swedish by Reverend Carl Boberg. Later, it was translated to Russian and then English by missionary Stuart K. Hine, who made additional verses of his own and changed its melody into “How Great Thou Art.” Hine published his English version in 1948 in a gospel magazine and became immensely popular worldwide.
George Beverly Shea’s recording of this gospel song became one of the most well-known ever produced, going on to be covered by numerous artists such as Pentatonix in 2017 and Carrie Underwood in 2016, respectively. Additionally, its presence has been highlighted in various significant movies and TV shows.
The original song was first made public at Forest Home in 1954 under the leadership of Dr. E. Orr. The words for this hymn were carved onto a polished redwood plaque, which still hangs today at Hormel Hall at Forest Home. Later that same year, it became famous when Reverend Billy Graham sang it during a crusade in New York City.
How Great Thou Art is an expressive prayer of praise that celebrates and glorifies our great and holy God, reminding us to consider all He has created, proclaiming His greatness and glory – while also reminding us to seek salvation and protection through Him.
Carl Boberg first wrote “Tropic Thunderstorm” for Swedish traditional melody in 1885 and set it to English lyrics, drawing inspiration from an impressive thunderstorm that struck his native Sweden. Stuart K. Hine heard this version published in a Russian gospel magazine and translated and revised it with two new verses before publishing and copyrighting his performance in 1949, creating what is widely recognized today as “Tropic Thunderstorm.”
Over 1,700 recorded versions of this hymn have been produced, making it one of the most iconic worship songs ever. At least three presidents of the United States have enjoyed listening to and singing this tune; significant films and television series have used its music; notable artists have performed it, including Pentatonix with Jennifer Hudson in 2017 (they sang it together), Carrie Underwood, Elvis Presley as well. Its powerful message of salvation will continue to touch generations yet unborn.
This last verse explores that fantastic feeling of God being so high yet loving us so low, which this song captures beautifully. I highly recommend you play this hymn during church services to express this sense of wonderment and reverence for Him.
How Great Thou Art is an extraordinary Christian song with origins in Sweden that has since spread around the globe. Written as a poem by Carl Boberg in 1885 and set to its Swedish traditional melody, it eventually found popularity during Stuart K. Hine and his wife’s ministry in Poland during the 1950s when English missionaries heard it and wrote their English paraphrase of it, later called “How Great Thou Art.”
Pentatonix, Carrie Underwood, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride, and Elvis Presley have all covered it; its popularity has spread through film and television shows. Today it remains one of the world’s most beloved Christian songs, often played at churches worldwide and even being named Britain’s favorite hymn!
Some hymns have an established structure, such as “Silent Night.” Others can be tweaked over time. One hymn written by Carl Boberg in 1885 and set to Swedish traditional melody has since gone global, inspiring artists such as Pentatonix, Jennifer Hudson, and Carrie Underwood.
Boberg was inspired to compose his three verses by his unforgettable experiences in Sweden’s majestic mountains. While traveling with a friend, they encountered a village schoolmaster who provided shelter. While taking cover, both witnesses witnessed nature at work with thundering storms raging through the mountains.
Hine heard Boberg’s poem translated into Russian in 1949 and created his paraphrase in English that captured its spirit despite not being literal. His version still seized its power to move readers.
Hine published his four-verse translation in Grace and Peace Gospel magazine that same year to great acclaim and success among missionaries worldwide. However, it didn’t reach the United States until 1954, with George Beverly Shea singing it at Forest Home Conference, where it has since become a beloved worship song and has been immortalized on a polished redwood plaque at Forest Home Conference.