Sunday, March 19, 2017

Singing the Faith: Day 14: Praise and Thanksgiving

How great thou art

This hymn – voted no.1 in a Songs of Praise Top 100 hymns in 2013 – started life as a Swedish poem by Carl Boberg (1859-1940). He had been moved by the sight of a rainbow after a storm on the Monsteras inlet on the south east coast of Sweden, his birth place. He was the son of a shipyard worker, and became a journalist and for fifteen years a member of the Swedish parliament, as well as a preacher.
The Swedish poem was set to music in 1891. An English translation was made in 1925 (O Mighty God) but it did not catch on. The version we sing today is another English translation, made from a Russian translation of a German version of the song, by Stuart Hine (1899-1989). He was a missionary who had heard it while on evangelistic work in the Carpathian Mountains in the 1930s. He composed the fourth verse in 1948, as a response to the flood of displaced refugees streaming across Europe in the wake of WW2. A question often heard from them was “when are we going home?” For many, the answer in this life would be “never”, but Hines wanted to remind them that their true home was with God. The hymn was popularised when it was sung at the Billy Graham Crusades of the 1950s, like “Great is thy Faithfulness” (Day 10 above)
The tune is variously credited as a Russian or Swedish folk tune, but with the complicated international story of this hymn it is hard to be sure of its origins!

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath 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 hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

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:

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!

·         Where is “home” for you? 

And a more contemporary take on the song....

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