Sunday, 9 April 2017

O Store Gud, the story

In 1886, Carl Boberg, a Swedish pastor, was on his way home to Mönsterås from Kronobäck where he had held an afternoon service and got caught in a thunderstorm.When Boberg arrived home, he opened the window and saw the bay of Mönsterås like a mirror before him… From the woods on the other side of the bay, he heard the song of a thrush…the church bells were tolling in the quiet evening. It was this series of sights, sounds, and experiences that inspired the writing of the song -  'O Store Gud' (A Mighty God). It had nine verses.

A paraphrase of Psalm 8, the hymn  was used in the 'underground church' in Sweden in the late 1800s when the Baptists and Mission Friends were persecuted." 
An early English version of this is as follows:
O mighty God, when I behold the wonder
Of nature’s beauty, wrought by words of thine,
And how thou leadest all from realms up yonder,
Sustaining earthly life with love benign,

With rapture filled, my soul thy name would laud,
O mighty God! O mighty God! (repeat)

When I behold the heavens in their vastness,
Where golden ships in azure issue forth,
Where sun and moon keep watch upon the fastness
Of changing seasons and of time on earth.

When crushed by guilt of sin before thee kneeling,
I plead for mercy and for grace and peace,
I feel thy balm and, all my bruises healing,
My soul is filled, my heart is set at ease.

And when at last the mists of time have vanished
And I in truth my faith confirmed shall see,
Upon the shores where earthly ills are banished
I’ll enter Lord, to dwell in peace with thee.

Later, missionary to the Ukraine, Stuart K Hine, adapted a translation into the four verses we know today (the last verse being added in 1939, after WWII, when he was inspired by the exiled Polish community in England, and displaced Russians - i.e. refugees, one of whom thought he may never be reunited with his wife again. This "How Great Thou Art" became far more popular, the words and tune making it the second most famous hymn of all time - after Amazing Grace.

Here's a Carrie Underwood version, which is very popular.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath 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 hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

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:

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!

A more traditional version, beautifully arranged, and with lovely harmonies and key changes - from the Mormon Tabernacle choir. It also features some gorgeous scenery.

Two verses we don't often see - 
O when I see ungrateful man defiling
This bounteous earth, God's gifts so good and great;
In foolish pride, God's holy Name reviling,
And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgment wait.

When burdens press, and seem beyond endurance,
Bowed down with grief, to Him I lift my face;
And then in love He brings me sweet assurance:
'My child! for thee sufficient is my grace'.
And here is our own South African Loyiso Bala, who recorded this version with Don Moen last year.
For those of you who are hard core like me - here's a Swedish version. It's beautiful. This clip features two hymns - skip to about the middle, if you like.

And in case you think I've belaboured all the versions, I've spared you Sandi Patty, Elvis, and countless instrumentals, including The Piano Guys

Happy Sunday everyone.

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