How Great Thou Art

In 1885, Carl Boberg, a Swedish editor and future politician, was walking home in the bayside town of Mönsterås. A thunderhead appeared on the horizon and ightning flashed. Thunderclaps shook the air, sending Boberg running for shelter. When the storm began to relent, he rushed home. He opened his windows to let in the fresh bay air, and the vision of tranquility that greeted him stirred something deep in his soul. The sky had cleared. Thrushes sang, and in the distance, the resonant knell of church bells sounded. With the juxtaposition between the roaring thunderstorm and such bucolic calm as background, Boberg sat down and wrote “O Store Gud”—the poem that, through a winding series of events would become “How Great Thou Art.”1

“How Great Thou Art” Lyrics

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 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 see 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 a Cross, my burdens 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 then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”


The King In All His Beauty

We’re starting off the week with this song of adoration, written and performed by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell. This song is filled with so many wonderful references to John’s vision in Revelation of angels and people praising Jesus, as well as explicit gospel theology. Enjoy this one to have your eyes set on Christ for the rest of the week!

O lift your eyes to heaven, see
The Holy One eternal
Behold the Lord of majesty
Exalted in His temple.
As symphonies of angels praise
Now strain to sound His glory.
Come worship, fall before His grace
The King in all His beauty.

How worthy, how worthy, how worthy
The King in all His beauty/

Now see the King who wears a crown
One made of shame and splinters.
The sacrifice for ruined man
The substitute for sinners.
As earth is stained with royal blood
And quakes with love and fury.
He breathes His last and bows His head
The King in all His beauty.


Now see the Saviour lifted up
The Lamb who reigns in splendour
The hope of every tribe and tongue
His kingdom is forever!
Bring praise and honour to His courts
Bring wisdom, power, blessing
For endless ages we’ll adore
The King in all His beauty


Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

This hymn is written by another prolific hymn writer, John Newton. I love the call to worship and sing to the Lord. This hymn is full of the gospel and would be a great song to meditate on today. Below is the traditional tune labelled “ALL SAINTS OLD”. as well as modern retune by Indelible Grace… Enjoy!

Let us love, and sing, and wonder,
Let us praise the Saviour’s name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.

Let us love the Lord, who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies;
Called us by his grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears, and gave us eyes.

Let us sing, though fierce temptations
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown,

Let us wonder, grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When we trust in Christ our fortress,
Justice smiles, and asks no more.

Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky.

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

A bout of pleurisy while studying under Peter Bohler led to the renewal of Charles Wesley’s faith on May 21, 1738. One year after this renewal, he decided to write a hymn to commemorate this event. The result was an 18 stanza long poem. The seventh verse, which says, “O for a thousand tongues to sing” has become the first verse of the shorter hymn we know today. The reference for these words is most likely from Peter Bohler who said, “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all.” The hymn was placed first in John Wesley’s A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists published in 1780. The music to which we traditionally sing these words was composed by Lowell Mason in 1839. Mr. Mason was the first music teacher hired by an American public school. He wrote music for over 1600 hymns and is said to be the “Father of American Church Music.”1

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread thro’ all the earth abroad
The honours of your name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease,
’tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’tis life and health and peace.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.

To God all glory, praise, and love
Be now and ever given
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven.

We Rise and Worship

Taken from a collection of new hymns sung by Nathan Clark George, and written by Greg Wilbur and Douglas Bond, these songs are written particularly for congregational singing and intentionally have well-crafted tunes that reflect the theological content of the lyrics. This one is one of my favourite from the collection, and sure will be yours too.

We rise and worship you, our Lord,
With grateful hearts for grace outpoured,
For you are good—O taste and see—
Great God of mercy rich and free. 
A chosen son of God on high,
I trembling bow and wonder why
This Sovereign Lord—O taste and see—
In love stooped down and rescued me.
Your Son obeyed the Law for me,
Then died my death upon the tree.
O Jesus Christ, I taste and see
And marvel that you purchased me.
In might, your Spirit drew me in,
My quickened heart from death to win.
O Holy Spirit—taste and see—
My comfort, hope, and surety.
With thankful praise our hearts we give;
By grace alone we serve and live.
O Trinity, we taste and see
Your sovereign goodness full and free.

O Father, You Are Sovereign

Edith Margaret Clarkson (1915–2008) was a Canadian schoolteacher, always known as Margaret, whose first published hymn was written in 1946, and most of whose texts were collected in A Singing Heart. A Presbyterian by upbringing and conviction, she treasured the catechisms and confessions of that tradition. Like the apostle who believed in One ‘who works all things according to the counsel of his will’ (Eph 1:11), Margaret never let her trust in that sovereign God become an excuse for fatalism, laziness or apathy. Margaret never wrote lightly of the ‘powers of death and darkness’, even ‘the Lord of pain’, suffering her own plagues of continual arthritis and migraine since childhood. These severely limited her mobility in later years.She did not find singleness easy, and devoted one of her many books to the subject. She valued the opportunity, not always available in Canada, of meeting fellow hymnwriters and comparing their joys and frustrations with her own. She longed to share with others her passion for global mission, often expressed in song1.

O Father, you are sovereign
in all the worlds you made;
your mighty Word was spoken
and light of life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons
and bounds the ocean’s shore,
sets stars within their courses
and stills the tempest’s roar.

O Father, you are sovereign
in all affairs of man;
no powers of death or darkness
can thwart your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending,
supreme in time and space,
you hold your trusting children
secure in your embrace.

O Father, you are sovereign,
the Lord of human pain,
transmuting early sorrows
to gold of heav’nly gain.
All evil over ruling, as
none but Conq’ror could,
your love pursues its purpose-
our souls’ eternal good.

O Father, you are sovereign,
We see you dimly now,
but soon before you triumph
earth’s every knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us
our faith springs up a-new:
our sovereign Lord and Saviour,
we trust and worship you.

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

Stuart Townend has been writing since he was 22 and includes much beloved songs such as “Christ Alone”, “The Power of the Cross” and “Speak O Lord”. Writing this hymn, he says “The danger now is that we are so focused on the experience our worship can become self-seeking and self-serving. When all of our songs are about how we feel and what we need, we’re missing the point. There is a wonderful, omnipotent God who deserves our highest praise, and how we feel about it is in many ways irrelevant! I want to encourage the expression of joy, passion, and adoration, but I want those things to be the by-product of focusing on God – I don’t want them to become the subject matter. I’m trying to write songs that refer to us as little as possible, and to Him as much as possible!1

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.


I Will Sing The Wondrous Story

The words of this hymn were written by F. H. Rowley and the music by Peter B. Bilhorn in 1886. Writing of the hymn, Rowley notes “I was minister of the First Baptist Church of North Adams, Massachusetts. The church and community were experiencing a period of unusual interest in religious matters, and I was assisted by a remarkable young singer by the name of Peter Bilhorn. One night after the close of the service he said, ‘Why don’t you write a hymn for me to set to music?’ During the night these verses came to me. The original poem began, ‘Can’t you sing the wondrous story?’ but when the song was first published by Sankey in 1887 the phrase was changed to “I will sing …”1. Below are two versions I hope you’ll enjoy.

I will sing the wondrous story
of the Christ who died for me;
how he left his home in glory
for the cross of Calvary:

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story
of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory,
gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,
found the sheep that went astray,
threw his loving arms around me,
back into the narrow way.


Faint was I, and fears possessed me,
bruised was I from many a fall;
hope was gone, and shame distressed me,
but his love has pardoned all:


Days of darkness still come o’er me,
sorrow’s path I often tread,
but his presence still is with me;
by his guiding hand I’m led.


He will keep me till the river
rolls its waters at my feet;
then He’ll bear me safely over,
where the loved ones I shall meet.


Like A River Glorious

This hymn, written by Frances Ridley Haverga, was dated 3 Nov. 1874, written in Leamington, Warwickshire, England, where her family had a home and she was returning from visiting Switzerland. But near the end of her trip in Switzerland, she had a turn of health; her sister noted, “Somehow or somewhere she caught fever, and commenced her homeward journey with dull headache and sickness.” Home was reached, shiverings and feverish symptoms rapidly set in, and she was soon utterly prostrate with typhoid fever. In spite of her illness, Frances found an incredible peace. She later explained to her sister: “All through my long illness I was very happy;… My one wish was to glorify God and to let my doctor and nurse see it”. Her hymn “Like a river glorious / is God’s perfect peace,” although not mentioned specifically here, was therefore written in the midst of terrible sickness, probably dictated to a family member, and it expresses the peace she felt in the possibility of finding heaven1.

Like a river glorious,
Is God’s perfect peace;
Over all victorious,
in its bright increase.
Perfect, yet it floweth,
Fuller every day;
Perfect, yet it groweth,
Deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah,
Hearts are fully blest.
Finding as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest

Hidden in the hollow
Of His blessed hand;
Never foe can follow,
Never traitor stand.
Not a surge of worry,
Not a shade of care;
Not a blast of hurry
Touch the spirit there.

Every joy or trial
Falleth from above;
Traced upon our dial
by the Sun of Love.
We may trust Him fully,
All for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly
Find Him wholly true.


O Father, You Are Sovereign

Throughout her life, E. Margaret Clarkson was plagued by pain; initially from migraines, accompanied by convulsive vomiting, and then arthritis—two ailments that accompanied her continually. This pain would be accompanied by other forms of suffering throughout her lifetime, especially severe feelings of loneliness and isolation. At the same time, Clarkson’s life was also marked by a love for hymns. She found comfort and strength in hymns, both in their contents and in the community of saints that wrote these hymns. As Clarkson later explained, through hymns she began to see the church “as one continuous, living stream of the grace of God” in which she had a place. “O Father, You are Sovereign,” was published late in Clarkson’s life in 1982, in the midst of a burst of writing after her early retirement from teaching. Severe spinal problems compelled her to retire in 1973, at the age of 58, and though plagued by pain, she wrote most of her books in the decade that followed.

O Father, you are sovereign
in all the worlds you made;
your mighty word was spoken,
and light and life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons
and bounds the ocean’s shore,
sets stars within their courses
and stills the tempest’s roar.

O Father, you are sovereign
in all affairs of man;
no pow’rs of death or darkness
can thwart your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending,
supreme in time and space,
you hold your trusting children
secure in your embrace.

OFather, you are sovereign,
the Lord of human pain,
transmuting earthly sorrows
to gold of heav’nly gain.
All evil overruling,
as none but Conqu’ror could,
your love pursues its purpose–
our souls’ eternal good.

O Father, you are sovereign!
We see you dimly now,
but soon before your triumph
earth’s ev’ry knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us,
our faith springs up anew:
our sovereign Lord and Saviour,
we trust and worship you!