My Father God, when on Thy vast creation

10
Steve Miller

Detroit, Michigan, United States

See Betty's 9/24/2012 posting of the lyrics to the hymn which is the base for the hymnal.net hymn.

The original hymn, "How Great Thou Art" is 1 of the hymnal's finest expressions for impressing us with God's greatness and majesty both in creation and redemption. If we are to truly worship God and trust Him with our lives, we must begin with a recognition of who He is and the knowledge of His limitless power.

Although it was written in the late 1800's, "How Great Thou Art" has only become familiar to congregations since the close of World War II. This inspiring song of praise was voted the United Kingdom's favorite hymn by BBC's Songs of Praise and was ranked second (after "Amazing Grace") on a list of the favorite hymns of all time in a survey by 'Christianity Today' magazine in 2001.

The hymn was 1st introduced to American audiences at the Stony Brook Bible Conference in Long Island, NY, in the early 1950's. However, the hymn did not become a universal favorite until Cliff Barrows and "Bev" Shea of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team used it during the London Crusade in the mid-1950's and again in the New York Crusade in 1957.

A Swedish pastor, the Rev. Carl Boberg, was inspired to write this text after a visit to a beautiful country estate on the Southeast coast of Sweden in 1886. He recalled:

"I was suddenly caught in a mid-day thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence which were followed by a clear brilliant sun. Soon afterwards I heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees. I was so overwhelmed by this display of nature that I fell to my knees in humble adoration to the mighty God of creation. In my exaltation I penned a 9-stanza poem with each stanza beginning with the Swedish words for 'O Great God'."

Several years later Pastor Boberg was attending a meeting in the Province of Varmland, Sweden, and was greatly surprised to hear this congregation using an old Swedish folk melody for his words.

After Pastor Boberg had written his poem, it was translated into the German language. Then the first literal English translation was made by the Rev. E. Gustav Johnson, a teacher from North Park College in Chicago, IL. This literal translation of Boberg's original poem was titled "O Mighty God, When I Behold the Wonder." These words are still found in some hymnals.

About the same time another individual discovered the German version and translated it into the Russian language. It soon became especially popular with a group of Ukrainian believers.

British Methodist missionary Stuart Wesley Hine was dedicated to Jesus Christ in the Salvation Army by his parents. Hine was influenced greatly by the teachings of British Baptist evangelist Charles Spurgeon.

Hine first heard the Russian translation of the German version of the song while on an evangelistic mission to the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, near the Polish border, in 1931. Upon hearing it, Hine was inspired to create his English paraphrase known as “How Great Thou Art". Hine also started re-writing some of the verses --- and writing new verses (all in Russian) --- as events inspired him.

One of the verses Hine added was the current 3rd verse in Betty's 9/2012 post. Michael Ireland explains the origin of this verse written by Hine:

It was typical of the Hines to ask if there were any Christians in the villages they visited. In one case, they found out that the only Christians that their host knew about were a man named Dmitri and his wife Lyudmila. Dmitri's wife knew how to read -- evidently a fairly rare thing at that time and in that place. She taught herself how to read because a Russian soldier had left a Bible behind several years earlier, and she started slowly learning by reading that Bible. When the Hines arrived in the village and approached Dmitri's house, they heard a strange and wonderful sound: Dmitri's wife was reading from the gospel of John about the crucifixion of Christ to a houseful of guests, and those visitors were in the very act of repenting. In Ukraine (as I know first hand!), this act of repenting is done very much out loud. So the Hines heard people calling out to God, saying how unbelievable it was that Christ would die for their own sins, and praising Him for His love and mercy. They just couldn't barge in and disrupt this obvious work of the Holy Spirit, so they stayed outside and listened. Stuart wrote down the phrases he heard the repenters use, and (even though this was all in Russian), it became the third verse that we know today: "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in."

The fourth verse was another innovation of Stuart Hine, which was added after the Second World War. His concern for the exiled Polish community in Britain, who were anxious to return home, provided part of the inspiration for Hine's final verse. Hine and David Griffiths visited a camp in Sussex, England, in 1948 where displaced Russians were being held, but where only two were professing Christians. The testimony of one of these refugees and his anticipation of the second coming of Christ inspired Hine to write the fourth stanza of his English version of the hymn. According to Ireland:

One man to whom they were ministering told them an amazing story: he had been separated from his wife at the very end of the war, and had not seen her since. At the time they were separated, his wife was a Christian, but he was not, but he had since been converted. His deep desire was to find his wife so they could at last share their faith together. But he told the Hines that he did not think he would ever see his wife on earth again. Instead he was longing for the day when they would meet in heaven, and could share in the Life Eternal there. These words again inspired Hine, and they became the basis for his fourth and final verse to 'How Great Thou Art': "When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation to take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then we shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim, My God How Great Thou Art!"

This thrilling final stanza reminds us that our great God will one day return to earth for His bride - believers from every age and culture - that they might sing of His greatness throughout all eternity. - '52 Hymn Stories Dramatized' by Kenneth W. Osbeck & Wikipedia


Matt

San Francisco, California, United States

As I expect the coming age of fulness

And hope to share the new Jerusalem,

With all the heavens and the earth in newness

And all Thou art expressed in all of them

Then all my being sings in praise to thee

How marvelous! How great Thou art!


Victoria Miao

Fremont, CA, United States

How marvellous! How great Thou art!


Anonymous

Amen.


Mercedis Bayate

Gensan, Sarangani Province, Philippines

I like the song.


Marilee Lampman

United States

Love this hymn! Thanks for posting the lyrics, Betty Jane Bonn!


Ana Lilia Hernández Romero

Ojinaga, Chuihuahua, Mexico

Amados Santos, hermanas y hermanos en Cristo, gracias por compartir las melodias y tonos de cada uno de los preciosos cantos de nuestro himnario, con ello nos regulan e impiden que los distorcionemos.

Saludos de parte de la iglesia local.


Betty Jane Bonn

Dunlap, Illinois, United States

The music is the same as to the hymn I know as "How Great Thou Art!" These are the verses I have:

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 pow'r thoughout the universe dispayed,

Refrain:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;

How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior 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;

Refrain

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;

Refrain

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!

Refrain

I trust these verses are a blessing to everyone--God bless you all.


Kevinsalim

Jakarta, West Java, Indonesia

This is my favorite. I like this song.


Guadalupe Yracheta

Cleveland, TX, United States

It makes me feel good inside and i love the lyrics.