|First Line:||O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder|
|Title:||How Great Thou Art|
|Swedish Title:||O store Gud, när jag den värld beskådar|
|Translator:||Stuart K. Hine (1949)|
|Author:||Carl Gustav Boberg|
|Meter:||188.8.131.52 with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee|
|Copyright:||© 1949, 1953, The Stuart Hine Trust. Print Rights (in the U.S., North, Central and South America) admin. by Hope Publishing Company. All rights in the USA, its territories and possessions, except print rights, admin. by Capital CMG Publishing. All other non-US/Americans rights admin. by The Stuart Hine Trust. Rest of the world rights admin. by Integrity Music UK.|
all st. = Ps.121
st. 3 = Heb. 12: 1-2
st. 4 = 1 Thess. 4: 16-17
This text has an international history. Its first source is a Swedish text by Carl G. Boberg ("O store Gud"–"O great God"), who wrote its nine stanzas one summer evening in 1885 after he had admired the beauty of nature and the sound of church bells. Boberg published the text in Mönsterås Tidningen (1886). Several years later, after hearing his text sung to a Swedish folk tune, Boberg published text and tune in Sanningsvittnet (April 16, 1891), the weekly journal he edited.
Manfred von Glehn, an Estonian, prepared a German translation of the text in 1907, which became the basis for a Russian translation by Ivan S. Prokhanoff in 1912. The Russian translation first appeared in the booklet Kimvali ("Cymbals") and then in the larger volume The Songs of a Christian, published in 1922 with support from Prokhanoffs friends in the American Bible Society (reprinted in 1927). Several English translations also appeared in the early twentieth century, but these had limited exposure.
The Russian text came to the attention of Stuart Wesley Keene Hine (b. London, England, 1899; d. Somerset, England, 1989) when he and his wife were missionaries in the Ukraine; they often sang it together as a duet. Earlier, Hine had served in the British Army in France during World War I and then entered the Methodist ministry. Starting in 1923 he was a missionary in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Russia. In 1939 he returned to England and ministered to displaced persons who had come from eastern European countries. From 1950-1959 he continued weekly meetings with various Slav immigrants in Earls Court. Hine wrote evangelistic tracts as well as a number of popular hymns, of which "How Great Thou Art" is best known, and the book Not You, But God: A Testimony to God's Faithfulness (1982).
Hine prepared the English translation from the Russian: stanzas 1 and 2, while he and his wife worked amidst the impressive scenery of the Carpathian Mountains; stanza 3, while they were involved with village evangelism; and stanza 4 in 1948, while they ministered to displaced persons in England. The complete English text and its Swedish tune were published in 1949 in the Russian missions magazine Grace and Peace. Because much of Boberg's original text was lost in the multiple translations, the English text in modern hymnals is usually credited to Hine. The hymn gained great popularity after George Beverly Shea began singing it in the Billy Graham Crusades, beginning with the Toronto Crusade of 1955.
Hine's text vividly combines a sense of awe of nature and of its Creator (see also Ps. 8) with the New Testament gospel of Christ's atoning death and glorious return.
Many appropriate times in Christian worship.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook