How Great Thou Art

Author: Carl Gustav Boberg

Boberg, Carl Gustaf. (Mönsterås, Sweden, August 16, 1859--January 7, 1940, Kalmar). Swedish Covenant. Bible school at Kristinehamn. Editor of Sanningsvittnet 1890-1916, organ of the Evangelical National Foundation. Member of the Swedish Parliament, 1912-1931. Popular speaker and appreciated writer. Published several collections of poetry and a number of hymns. Member of committee responsible for first two hymnals of the Swedish Covenant. Author of "Jesus, Jesus, O det ordet" ("Jesus, Jesus, Name Most Precious"); "Min själ berömmer Gud med fröjd" (My Soul Now Magnifies the Lord"); "O store Gud" ("O Mighty God"). The text now known as "How Great Thou Art" is an English translation of a Russian version based on an earlier German translati… Go to person page >

Translator: Stuart K. Hine

Stuart K. Hine was born in 1899 in Great Britain. In much of Stuart’s earlier years he and his wife were missionaries in the Western Ukraine of Russia, where they evangelized as Christian workers and singers. In 1931, Stuart K. Hine and his wife returned to Britain and conducted gospel campaigns throughout Great Britain. During those years, Stuart published many song books and wrote many of his beloved gospel songs. Stuart retired from the active ministry but continued to publish his song books and his music and contributed the majority of his income to various missionary endeavors around the world…Stuart K. Hine’s most popular composition is “How Great Thou Art,” which is recognized in many polls as the number one Hymn in America… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Title: How Great Thou Art
Translator: Stuart K. Hine (1949)
Author: Carl Gustav Boberg
Meter: 11.10.11.10 with refrain
Refrain First Line: Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee
Copyright: © 1953, 1981, Manna Music, Inc.

Notes

Scripture References:
all st. = Ps.121
st. 3 = Heb. 12: 1-2
st. 4 = 1 Thess. 4: 16-17

This text has an international history. Its first source is a Swedish text by Carl G. Boberg ("O store Gud"–"O great God"), who wrote its nine stanzas one summer evening in 1885 after he had admired the beauty of nature and the sound of church bells. Boberg published the text in Mönsterås Tidningen (1886). Several years later, after hearing his text sung to a Swedish folk tune, Boberg published text and tune in Sanningsvittnet (April 16, 1891), the weekly journal he edited.

Manfred von Glehn, an Estonian, prepared a German translation of the text in 1907, which became the basis for a Russian translation by Ivan S. Prokhanoff in 1912. The Russian translation first appeared in the booklet Kimvali ("Cymbals") and then in the larger volume The Songs of a Christian, published in 1922 with support from Prokhanoffs friends in the American Bible Society (reprinted in 1927). Several English translations also appeared in the early twentieth century, but these had limited exposure.

The Russian text came to the attention of Stuart Wesley Keene Hine (b. London, England, 1899; d. Somerset, England, 1989) when he and his wife were missionaries in the Ukraine; they often sang it together as a duet. Earlier, Hine had served in the British Army in France during World War I and then entered the Methodist ministry. Starting in 1923 he was a missionary in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Russia. In 1939 he returned to England and ministered to displaced persons who had come from eastern European countries. From 1950-1959 he continued weekly meetings with various Slav immigrants in Earls Court. Hine wrote evangelistic tracts as well as a number of popular hymns, of which "How Great Thou Art" is best known, and the book Not You, But God: A Testimony to God's Faithfulness (1982).

Hine prepared the English translation from the Russian: stanzas 1 and 2, while he and his wife worked amidst the impressive scenery of the Carpathian Mountains; stanza 3, while they were involved with village evangelism; and stanza 4 in 1948, while they ministered to displaced persons in England. The complete English text and its Swedish tune were published in 1949 in the Russian missions magazine Grace and Peace. Because much of Boberg's original text was lost in the multiple translations, the English text in modern hymnals is usually credited to Hine. The hymn gained great popularity after George Beverly Shea began singing it in the Billy Graham Crusades, beginning with the Toronto Crusade of 1955.

Hine's text vividly combines a sense of awe of nature and of its Creator (see also Ps. 8) with the New Testament gospel of Christ's atoning death and glorious return.

Liturgical Use:
Many appropriate times in Christian worship.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune

O STORE GUD

Originally in triple meter, the Swedish tune O STORE GUD is in bar form (AAB). The first section has a very limited range of four notes; the more meditative stanzas give way to a dramatic refrain with an expanded range. Sing in parts and observe some rhythmic freedom in the last line of the refrain,…

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Timeline

Instances

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