How Great Thou Art

Posted on January 25, 2018.

                              "How Great Thou Art"                                                                                            The story begins in 1885 with Carl Gustav Boberg, then a 26-year-old a lay minister in the Mission Covenant Church, a reformed church in Sweden’s. One day Boberg was walking home from church near Kronobock, enjoying the peace of the ringing church bells.  Suddenly a fierce thunderstorm hit. And as suddenly as it had appeared, it again subsided, returning Kronobock to its serene tranquillity under a rainbow.       "When I came home  I opened my window towards the sea", Boberg later recalled.  Reflecting on  the storm, the majestic beauty of the village’s shimmering bay and the birdsong from the green woods, he decided to write a poem about God’s goodness .  He titled the nine-verse poem O Store Gud (O Great God), and published it in March 1886, with no plans to set it to music.    In 1888, Boberg was surprised to hear his poem being sung in a church to the tune of an old Swedish folk song. When he became the editor of a Christian newspaper two years later, he published the text with its musical arrangement. Soon the newly-minted hymn spread throughout Sweden and other lands in the Baltic where there were Swedish communities.     One such community existed in Estonia. There an ethnic German member of the Baptist Church, Manfred von Glehn, heard it, and in 1907 translated the hymn into German. It soon found great popularity.    In  1912 a Russian translation of von Glehn’s text was published in a hymn book as Velikiy Bog (Great God). And there the hymn’s proliferation rested for a while.   Seven years later, in 1925, the American E Gustav Johnson rendered the Swedish version of the hymn as O Mighty God. It found inclusion in several hymnbooks, but didn’t catch on.   But it is the version by the British Methodist Stuart Hine (1899-1989) which we sing today.     Hine first heard the hymn as a missionary in the Ukraine in 1931. He first tinkered with the Russian lyrics and added verses. After leaving Eastern Europe, on account of World War II, he eventually decided to create an English version. In doing so he worked not from the Boberg’s original but from the Russian translation of the German translation. And somehow he arrived back at the German title. He kept adapting and adding to the text until 1949 when How Great Thou Art was finally published.               From an article by · August 26, 2014                                                                                            

Jeremiah 10:6
“No one is like you, O LORD; you are great
 and your name is mighty in power."