April 2008


Psalm 145:3 “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Yesterday our small town buried one of my neighbors. The man was widely respected and prominent in our community. One of my daughters had, in times past babysat for their children and was honored in being asked to provide the music for his service. Needless to say, she did her daddy proud. One of her selections was an all-time favorite: “How Great Thou Art” Hearing her sing it reminded me again of how much I love this classic.

This week’s Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs selection was translated from Swedish By Stuart K Hine and made popular by Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team during the latter part of the last century. An excerpt from suite101.com explains the origins of the original nine stanza poem.

The original Swedish text was a poem entitled “O Store Gud,” written in 1886 by a Swedish preacher Carl Boberg, a successful editor of the periodical Sanningsvittnet. Boberg’s inspiration for “How Great Thou Art” came from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the southeast coast of Sweden. “He got caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun. Soon afterwards he heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees.”

The experience prompted Boberg to “fall to his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God.” A nine-stanza poem beginning with the Swedish words “O Store Gud, nar jag den varld beskader” captured his exaltation of how great God is.

Years later, while attending a gathering in the Province of Varmländ, Boberg was surprised to hear the congregation sing his poem to the tune of an old Swedish melody.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have 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 see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

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!

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.

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 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 then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

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!

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“To ev’ry captive soul…A full deliverance…”

“For a long time people had been crying out for a deeper walk with God. Now it had come and people were so excited about it. They would sing for a while, and then those who had been filled with the Holy Ghost would get up and tell about it, and how wonderful it was. After some testimonies, someone would preach and tell what God had promised. Then it would start all over again, and go on almost all night. If anyone was hungry, they would leave for something to eat and then return as soon as possible.

They would meet early in the morning and start singing. They had no songbook and no piano. But, oh, what singing! One of their main songs was, ‘The Comforter Has Come.’

Excerpt of an eye witness account about the Azuza Street Revival of 1914 by S. Henry McGowan

This week’s Psalms Hymns and Spiritual Songs selection was written well over a century ago by Frank Bottomy and has recently been revived by the Jars Of Clay singing group.

‘The Comforter Has Come’ is another song that I had memorized in my youth and often sang loudly above the noise of the tractor as I worked out in the fields.

The Comforter Has Come

O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let ev’ry Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, the Father’s promise giv’n;
O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found—
The Comforter has come!

The long, long night is past, the morning breaks at last,
And hushed the dreadful wail and fury of the blast,
As o’er the golden hills the day advances fast!
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

Lo, the great King of kings, with healing in His wings,
To ev’ry captive soul a full deliverance brings;
And through the vacant cells the song of triumph rings;
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

O boundless love divine! How shall this tongue of mine
To wond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine—
That I, a child of hell, should in His image shine!
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

Frank Bottomy 1890