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Celebrating 75 Years of "How Great Thou Art" with a Renewed Call to Worship

In a monumental moment at Billy Graham’s New York Crusade on June 16, 1957, the resounding voices of the choir, led by the legendary Mr. Shea, filled Madison Square Garden with the timeless hymn, "How Great Thou Art." This performance, broadcast to an estimated 96 million viewers, marked a significant chapter in the hymn's journey into the hearts of the American Protestant community.

As 2024 commemorates the 75th anniversary of the hymn's publication, celebrated songwriters Matt Redman and Mitch Wong have collaborated to breathe new life into "How Great Thou Art." Their rendition, titled "How Great Thou Art! (Until That Day)," preserves the beloved English text while acknowledging the hymn's international origins and rich history. Featuring prominent artists like Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, and Naomi Raine, this collaborative recording is a fitting tribute to the enduring legacy of this cherished hymn.

Redman, reflecting on the challenge of modifying such a revered hymn, stated, "This is a hymn that everyone knows and loves. It felt quite daunting to come in and make changes." However, their version skillfully captures the tension inherent in the Christian life, balancing the realities of the temporal and the eternal.

"How Great Thou Art" has secured a lasting place in the American national imagination, even becoming the title track of Elvis Presley's Grammy-winning 1967 album. Over the years, artists like Alan Jackson and Carrie Underwood have continued to share their renditions, solidifying the hymn's cultural impact.

The hymn's roots trace back to the 19th-century Swedish poem "O Store Gud," translated into English by British missionary Stuart Hine in the 1940s. Hine's decision to copyright the hymn, although impacting its adaptability, allowed him to channel its popularity for charitable purposes through the Stuart Hine Trust.

Redman and Wong's addition to "How Great Thou Art" extends the hymn's narrative beyond its traditional verses. Their forward-looking lyrics, with a nod to the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, maintain the hymn's essence while offering a contemporary perspective.

As Matt Redman aptly describes, "How Great Thou Art" is more than a hymn; it's an invitation to respond to encounters with God's power. It serves as both a chapel and a classroom, offering rich doctrine and an opportunity for transcendence. This enduring hymn, with its theological depth and powerful invitation to worship, continues to resonate and inspire, reminding believers to sing, praise, and approach God with reverence.


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