Day 5

How Great Thou Art

from the Hymns V reading plan

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

BY Ellie Holcomb

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:


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:


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!


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!

Post Comments (87)

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!

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