How Great Thou Art

Open Your Bible

Psalm 121:1-8, Psalm 145:3-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Text: Psalm 121:1-8, Psalm 145:3-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

“How Great Thou Art” always has a way of undoing me. Something happens to me each time I sing this old hymn, whether singing along with hundreds of other voices or alone in my car. The atmosphere seems to shift, and I’m left wondering what it is specifically about this hymn that causes such a stir within me.

When Billy Graham was asked why he used the song so much at his crusades, he said this:

“It glorifies God. It turns Christians’ eyes toward God rather than upon themselves. I use it as often as possible because it is such a God-honoring song.”

And there you have it. It honors God and shifts our gaze away from ourselves back to our Father. He is greater than any joy this world has to offer, greater than any storm our souls will ever weather.

The past month has been filled with anxiety for me, and I’ve continually felt like a failure at life. There are so many things I’ve left undone—people I haven’t seen, phone calls I haven’t returned, and, after having a new baby boy, so much sleep I haven’t been getting. I feel like the worst version of myself, and yet as I read through this old hymn, I am once again reminded that the gospel isn’t really about me and how I’m doing. It’s about our great God and what He’s done for us.

The hymn began as a poem written by Carl Boberg in the late 19th century, but it was British missionary Stuart Hine who took the Russian translation of Boberg’s original and created the commonly known English version. Hine was on a trip through the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine with his wife, preaching in a mountain village, when they were caught in a terrible storm. In awe as the thunder echoed throughout the mountains, Hine was inspired to write the first verse of his English paraphrase:

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

That power Hine witnessed is the gospel power at work in you and me. Like the Psalmist penned, “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

I love how this hymn helps me lift my eyes from my inadequacy to His sufficiency—from my not-enough to His always-enough. It helps me to remember the wonderful works He has done (Psalm 145:5) and to meditate on those, rather than circling around and around all the things I’ve left undone.

I love how this song shifts my gaze—
From my sin and mistakes to God’s sacrifice and grace.
From my problems and pain to God’s power and mercy.
From the mess of my heart to the beauty of His love.
From the ache of this world to the hope of our true, eternal home.

Friends, let’s gather ‘round and sing this song together today, turning our eyes from ourselves to our great God, proclaiming His goodness and faithfulness to our our own souls and to those around us (Psalm 145:3-7).

The same God who is over the storms, who created the hills and the valleys, comes down to be our helper. The same God who spoke the mountains into existence, who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, sent His own Son to take our place on the cross. And that same God will come again one day to make all things right (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

I’m so thankful for the way this song helps us remind our souls of His greatness and His goodness. May we sing it together today, and remind one another of its truths every day.

How Great Thou Art
Carl Gustav Boberg, 1885; Stuart K. Hine, c. 1949

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:

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!

SRT-Hymns5-Instagram5s

For an added layer of worship during reading plan, we’ve created a Spotify playlist for Hymns V! You can find the complete SRT/HRT Hymns V Playlist here, or listen to the first track on the player below. Enjoy!

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87 thoughts on "How Great Thou Art"

  1. Stephanie S says:

    Yes! Needed this reminder today.

  2. Lizzy Butterfield says:

    I love this one so much, it is SO powerful!

  3. Shay Cicenas says:

    ❤️

  4. Grace Tofte says:

    I love this hymn so much. Wish my church sang these masterpieces more often!

  5. Precious says:

    Thank you Lord that’s all I can say right now ! That’s all ❤️

  6. Deborah A. Adedoja says:

    God is good all the time. He is great even when our circumstances don’t seem so great. : ) He brings us out into beauty & peace.

  7. Jules says:

    Wow, the Bible isn’t about me and about how I’m doing, it’s about God and what he’s done for us. That forever changed my perspective

  8. Kayla O'Dell says:

    Does anyone know how to remove a plan once you’re finished with it?

  9. GM Levy says:

    Thanks soooo much. I need this devotion this morning and to sing the song!!!!!

  10. Steph Richardson says:

    such a lovley song to sig in church

  11. Rebecca says:

    The gospel is not about me! Great reminder

  12. Stacey says:

    Thank you Lord for going through thick and thin with me! Your great love is overwhelmingly beautiful!

  13. Amanda says:

    The first bolder phrase is such great reminder of an amazing truth

    1. Amanda says:

      Bolded*

  14. Amber says:

    This is one of my favorite hymns! Such a powerful message! No matter what, our God is GREAT!

  15. Sarah K says:

    ❤️❤️❤️

  16. Daughter Of The King says:

    Thank you God for your great mercy and grace!!! You astound me each day with your unending love and blessings!!!!

  17. Shesabookworm says:

    This hymn always makes me cry in the glory of our God and His brilliance.

  18. Rachel says:

    He must increase. Thank you for sharing who you are with us God.

  19. Kate says:

    I got chills reading this devotional reminding me the a bible is not about ME. It is about my God and His glory. When you change your perspective, and focus less on your own hardships and troubles and more on everything our God has done and does for us … Your whole world changes.

  20. Erin says:

    Amen this hymn is such a needed reminder of his power despite our weaknesses!!

  21. Jon Friday says:

    I

  22. Lizztomania says:

    Focusing on the goodness of God rather than the troubles of the world.. How perfectthe world

  23. Millie says:

    Shift my focus from me to you today Lord! And may I praise you with all I have… HOW GREAT THOU ART

  24. Abigail says:

    GOD is almighty, power and greater that we are can’t live without daily! That’s hymn is reminds us to look toward to GOD with honor, adore and humble inspired! Oh, GOD, we are really live without you everlasting!

  25. jeleni says:

    this is my favorite hymn of all time… HOW GREAT THOU ART

  26. Maddie Sparrow says:

    This is a really wonderful reminder of how God is in control even through the rough times. I definitely needed to be reminded of this today.

  27. Laura says:

    This was a good reminder to think about God,not ourselves and our shortcomings. I think about all the time that I waste thinking about myself and how I’m not doing things right when the time is better spent thinking about God and that he does everything right.

  28. Emily Louise says:

    This has been God’s call to me, to focus on Him and to put others before thoughts of myself.

  29. Gretchen says:

    What a wonderful reminder today. God has recently done something amazing and unexpected in my life that could only be from Him. I’m glad today to reflect on His great love and power.

  30. Michelle of Los Angeles says:

    Yes Katie (below) ” How Great Thou Art ‘ one of my all time favorite too . Mahalia Jackson was an amazing gospel singer.
    I believe she is one of the greatest in gospel history . What a voice and it sends chills thru out your body and you lifts your head up to our Lord as Ellie wrote in her writing . God is so amazing .

  31. Kattie says:

    One of my all time favorite hymns! Myhubby hfjkskxjfndkxkcjdjsk

  32. Tracy says:

    Thanks to the Lord for beautiful memories recalled through this post.

  33. Emma Kate says:

    My great grandmother was such a special person in my life and she died a year ago today. She was buried in our family cemetery in the Appalachian foothills of southwest Virginia, and Psalm 121:1-2 was running through my head the whole time. I loved opening this tonight and seeing it first thing, a great reminder that God is here with us even through pain.

  34. Mary Mazzeo says:

    I love songs that inspire me , they bring much peace and happiness into my life

  35. Love love love this!!

  36. Chelsea says:

    This spoke so much to where I am and what the Lord is doing in my life. I have recently had twins and along with a two year old dealing with that transition and homeschooling my seven and nine year old girls, my family is going through some difficult times. It would be so easy for me to focus on myself and become weary, but instead the Lord has used all of this to bring me to my knees and draw me into Himself. I feel like during a season when I would usually fall away I have learned so much about who God is and how He should truly be first in my life, my only comfort, my freedom from anxiety and fear, my place of rest and rejuvenation. I knew all this in my head before, but now my heart knows and its making such a difference.

  37. Diane Huntsman says:

    I am once again reminded that the gospel isn’t really about me and how I’m doing. It’s about our great God and what He’s done for us.

  38. Sarah Catherine Perry says:

    These past few weeks I feel the same, like I am giving back to the Lord the worst version of myself. I have been searching and seeking and in all of this, I still have not stopped to focus myself and my attention on Him. It has all been about what his plan is for me and those dear to me, instead of being about Him, and His great love and provision.

    I trust that the Lord has great plans. I will stop looking at my failure to see where they will take me and I will focus on His goodness, what He has done. Today I will submit to Him, not by trying to figure Him out but by resting in His goodness. Thank you sisters, He truly has made us all for each other and to bring each other close to him.

    1. Lauren says:

      Amen, Sarah. I think God has been telling me focus and rest in His goodness (not my accomplishments) for about two years. I’m so grateful for his mercy and patience as I learn!

  39. Abby says:

    There’s nothing like becoming a parent to make you feel like a failure. Honestly! It starts when they are a newborn and 3 years later, it’s just as hard. All that getting up in the night is training. Training for persistently pursuing your child even when they have been willfully disobedient over and over. And there are two of us! I can imagine how difficult it would be to be a single mom. And Yes, the Gospel is, must be, the air I breathe because if I look to myself, I’m surrounded by my failure, my own disappointment every day. So singing, and this song in particular, lifts the eyes from self to God, in worship.
    “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olives fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls,
    yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s, he makes me tread on my high places.”
    Habakkuk 3:17-19

  40. Lori Biddle says:

    As I watched a documentary last night on India – I found myself reminded again of the intricacy of God’s love. He created the amazing complexity of each bug – all the uncountable species – it was mesmerizing, I worshipped Him as I watched. How great though art – Psalm 145:3b – His greatness is unsearchable! We have no idea…..

  41. It was so nice to sing that this morning.

  42. CR says:

    Awesome! God is awesome!

  43. Felicia Oostra says:

    Thanks so much for this encouragement. It is so refreshing to again turn my thoughts toward Christ.

  44. Arleisha says:

    Much needed and right on time! Thank you Lord!

  45. Cara says:

    This song was sung at my dads funeral last summer. I still tear up from pain AND joy every time I hear it. But despite the suffering, my heart sings How Great He Is.

    ” I love how this song shifts my gaze—
From my sin and mistakes to God’s sacrifice and grace.
From my problems and pain to God’s power and mercy.
From the mess of my heart to the beauty of His love.
From the ache of this world to the hope of our true, eternal home.”

  46. Brittney says:

    God never ceases to amaze me in the ways that he shows up in my life. Not only is this my favorite hymn, the devotional seemed as if I wrote it myself and forgot. I had our first baby just 7 weeks ago and the way this devotional described feeling “like the worst version of myself” are the emotions I haven’t been able to figure out how to describe. But I am not of this world and I needed this today to remind me of the grandeur and indescribable greatness of my Father. 1 John 4:4 “…because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” God is greater than ALL. Praise God for his love and his Son who died so I can live.

  47. Courtney says:

    He is greater than any storm and greater than any treasure! Jesus is truly better than anything on this earth we can choose to put our time too, our affections on, and worship. Yet our hearts need constant reminders because we are a
    Stiffed neck people . We are a forgetful bunch. My wondering heart needs daily reminding in the Word to point me to the value of my Savior! Thank you SRT for doing that in my life.

  48. CJ says:

    Wow. What a Christ centering devotion that you gave to us today. Thank you, Ellie!

  49. Sara says:

    Check out Lauren Daigle’s acoustic version … it gives me God bumps! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BL06fxHPVo&index=1&list=PLwPmhqaqrM_5mkhgaI30hMpmXiKjS-aPC

  50. Susan says:

    I’ve been away from SRT for a bit but saw that this amazing hymn was being featured today. What a blessing this song has been in my life! My young daughter has leukemia and it’s been a rough year for us all. But I am reminded again and again that this story is not OUR story – it’s God’s story. I sing this hymn to my daughter at bedtime, and she has it memorized now (well, the first verse and chorus). It’s an incredible thing to hear her singing it, and to know that she is being carried and held by our great God. That we are ALL being carried, held, loved, and sheltered by our GREAT GOD. Thank you, SRT, for reminding me to look up and know where my help comes from, each minute, hour and day.

    1. April says:

      Praying for your daughter! :)

    2. Krystl says:

      Susan what a strong mother and loving mother you are and your daughter sounds just the same! Your outlook on life and God in the midst of all this is beautiful and inspiring. I just said a prayer for your daughter. <3

      1. Amy says:

        Susan, Sending fervent prayers your way. Knowing He indeed does hold you both in the palm of His hand.

    3. Churchmouse says:

      Praying hard for healing this side of heaven for your daughter. What a gift you’ve given her with this hymn. You’re a wonderful mama.

    4. Tina says:

      Sudan..lifting you and yours up in prayer..
      Praying for absolute healing …
      Sending you and your daughter a hug wrapped in love…
      God bless you…

    5. Tricia says:

      Praying for your daughter and all of you through this time.

    6. candacejo says:

      Strength and perfect peace to you and your family in this difficult season. He holds your world in His hands! ♥

    7. heather (MNmomma) says:

      Lifting you all up in prayers

    8. Nicole says:

      Susan . Uplifting peace Prayers . I have a book for children with cancer coming out this month . Please allow me to mail you a copy . Xo [email protected]

  51. Caroline @ In Due Time says:

    Such a beautiful hymn. Thank you Lord that you wipe away our ‘never enough’ and replace it with ‘always enough’. http://www.in-due-time.com

    1. Sarah Robinson says:

      This really spoke to me this morning. Thank you for this simple but profound truth. k you fThank you

  52. aubrey says:

    Thank you!

  53. DAH says:

    Love this hymn. Truly become undone when sing & proclaiming this truth. Turning our eyes away from ourselves and to the God of glory.

    Thanks for this today.

  54. Mrs. Stafford says:

    “When Christ shall come,
    with shout of acclamation
    and take me home,
    what joy shall fill my heart!”

    Love. Love. Love. In tears this morning ladies!! Thank you Lord so much for guiding me to this wonderful community. I feel like I get to have my own Church service daily, in my own home! ❤

  55. Emily says:

    We sang this song out my wedding while we lit the unity candle and prayed together. It was the only time during the whole ceremony my husband cried. And rightly so!

    1. Krystl says:

      This made me happy! How touching! <3

    2. JJ Smith says:

      We wanted to have a congregational song at our wedding, and this song was the best testimony to God for how we know God to be. I hoped that the people who didn’t know Him would be moved to. So yeah, I like this song too… :)

  56. Tina says:

    …Then sings my soul my saviour God to thee…How great though art, how great thou art. …
    Lord God, may these words be my chant as I hold fast to you in these recent days and beyond.. of sadness, heartbreak, hurt, confusion, loss…etc
    Praising you Lord God and thanking you that it is ALL TOTALLY about YOU..and that it is only with and through you that our hope, peace, grace, forgiveness. .et al abides and comes…Thank you Lord God …
    How great thou art…Amen. ..

    Happy Friday my dears..xxx

    1. candacejo says:

      Praying with you through this storm. ♥

    2. Kam says:

      Praying too for peace and blessings for you Tina.

  57. April L. says:

    This is one of my favorite hymns. I can still hear the piano, the organ, sopranos in the choir, and my Mom singing in her strong first soprano voice this song. I also have to say, that I do not recall ever singing the second verse to this song, which is very nice. Thank you for reminding us, how great God is, and without Him, we aren’t much.

  58. Lindsey says:

    What an awesome hymn, devotion, and such a great reminder that it’s not about us, it’s all about Him. How awesome is our might God, who not only created everything, but loves us and knows us more than we know ourselves. Praise our Lord!!!

  59. Becky says:

    I have always loved this hymn, but never really sat down and focused on the words until this morning. Thank you, Ellie, for the way you put all the focus on God and on what He has done. It really is all about our great God, isn’t it?

  60. Deb says:

    Thank you, God, this was just what I needed today!

    1. Carie says:

      Me too Deb! He knows our hearts! Thankful to serve a God who hears and speaks to His daughters!

  61. Kelly S says:

    I am drawn into holy worship this morning. Ellie, your words accomplish what Hine did in this hymn–you get my eyes off myself and direct them to Jesus. “The gospel isn’t really about me and how I’m doing. It’s about our great God and what He’s done for us.” My egocentric, performance driven self needs to hear this truth daily. I need hymns just like this one to usher my attention toward the holiness of God.

    It was a little overwhelming to think of all of my sisters singing this hymn along with me this morning. I imagine all of our voices, collected over the expanse of time and space, joining as one before our Father. I can picture Him hearing us sing as one choir, His daughters joining in worship. We are practicing for our heavenly worship today, sisters! “How great thou art!”

    1. Missy CM says:

      Beautiful picture, Kelly.

      Women singing all together is what will be going down tonight and all day tomorrow through IF. Could I ask yall to pray for IF:Gathering this weekend? Today and tomorrow women all over the world will be meeting with their people in their places and asking the question “If God is real, then how can we more fully live like it?”. There´s no doubt in that question, which is the beautiful part. We know Him. We know He loves us. How are we equipped to go out and get our fingerprints on the world for Him?

      Any other IF:Locals out there? Praying for you this morning. For us to get ourselves (and our flower arrangements, food prep, name tags, etc.) out of the way and keep things simple and pure for the King.

  62. Churchmouse says:

    That this great hymn was penned during a storm makes it all the more powerful to me. Thank you SRT for providing the background and also all the stanzas so that I can soak in every word. My inadequacy. His sufficiency. My not -enough. His always enough. Yes. Yes. Yes. How great Thou art!

  63. Jeannette says:

    What a beautiful rendition of the song. Her voice is simply magical. Thank you for this study and wonderful play list!

  64. Jenni says:

    This song will continually be on my heart today in adoration of how great my God really is

  65. TGBTG says:

    “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, How great thou art”
    Each day my soul sings in wonderment of how great my Savior God truly is. Prayers of thanksgiving for His love,for me, His undeserving daughter. Abundance of gratitude for never leaving me as I stumble and fall each day trying to be the best I can be for Him. Absolute love for His patience and the strength He gives to me.
    How great Thou art! How great Thou art, my Savior God to me.