How Great Thou Art

How Great Thou Art (youtube)
Words translated by Stuart K. Hine, Music from Swedish Folk Song
Performed by Bethany Children's Choir from Tanzania

"How Great Thou Art," one of the most beloved hymns of all time, had quite a history to reach the form in which we sing it today. The text is based on a tune written by Swedish poet Carl Gustav Boberg (1859-1940) in 1885. Boberg was inspired to write the poem while walking home from church one day, experiencing a powerful storm, and then listening to the church bells in the calm following the thundershower. Between 1886 and 1890, the poem was published, paired with a Swedish folk tune, and first sung in a church setting.

In the first half of the 20th century, Boberg's poem was translated into several languages, with our current paraphrase written in 1949. Stuart K. Hine (1899-1989), a British Methodist missionary, first encountered the hymn in the Russian translation of the German version while working in Ukraine. In addition to translating several of Boberg's verses, he also wrote new stanzas (our verses 3 and 4).

The video featured this week was the inspiration for the style in which we sing this hymn on Sunday mornings. The song is performed by the children's choir from the Bethany Project, a Christian children's home and education center in Tanzania.