Tag Archives: church

Looking at Song | O Store Gud (How Great Thou Art)

9 Nov

I love when a song has such a rich history–the telling of which sparks movies in the mind. Such is the case with “How Great Thou Art”(aka “O Store Gud” – “Oh Mighty God”).

Carl Gustav Boberg was walking home from an afternoon service at his church near Kronoback, Sweden when the peal of church bells suddenly gave way to a peaceful winter calm. He looked out over Monsteras Bay and the radiant sun filled him with momentary awe, only to be broken by the presence of a thundercloud stealing away the light and flashing it’s might across the sky as the storm it led came into full view. Once home he heard church bells ringing in the distance. Gazing out the window the glorious scenes of the day poured into his mind and he wrote this hymn which was first published in 1886 in Swedish.

In 1907 the song was translated from Swedish to German and popularized under the title “Du grober Gott.” (“O Mighty God”) A few years later, in 1912, the song made it’s way to Russia where it was called “Velikly Bog” (“Great God”). The first English translation appeared in 1925 under the title “Oh Mighty God”:

Oh Mighty God, when I behold the wonder
Of nature’s beauty, wrought by words of thinge,
And how thou leadest all from realms up yonder,
Sustaining life with love benign.

In 1931 a British missionary names Stuart Wesley Keene Hine head the Russian translation while in the Ukraine. He was the one who created the English paraphrase known as “How Great Thou Art.” He is also responsible for adding added the very powerful 3rd verse:

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.

After World War II Hine’s wrote additional verses. One of which went like this:

O when I see ungrateful man defiling
Bounteous earth, God’s gifts so good and great;
In foolish pride, God’s holy Name reviling,
And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgment wait.

Hines’ final version was published in 1949. It was introduced in American in 1951.  It became a signature song in the Billy Graham crusades of the 1950s–popularized by George Beverly Shea.

In 1957 a version of the hymn was commissioned by Intervarsity which harkened back to the Boberg original.

The United Church of Christ released a revised version of the hymn in 1995, which uses the refrain:

My soul cries out in songs of praise to you.
O mighty God! O mighty God!

This hymn is one that has now been translated in a multitude of languages around the globe from Spanish to Swahili to Slovak and Vietnamese.

It is hard not to get caught up in ardent praise as you belt out:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art, How great thou art.


[Sources: Trinity Hymnal; Wikipedia]


Trumpet Call To unity (1Cor 1:2 & 1:10)

18 Jun

In the opening lines of 1 Corinthians we already hear the trumpet call to unity as Christ’s church.

1:2 “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” [ESV]

The key word here is “together”—we are “called to be saints together with all those who…call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because he is “their Lord and ours.”

It is so easy to push pass this line as we read through this text. But let this sink in for a moment. Especially in light of where Paul is about to go with the first portion of this letter.

What does it mean to acknowledge the universal church? Are we acknowledging the universal church? Are we honoring of our Christian brothers and sisters across the globe…across the street.

It is a lot easier to seek division from Christians by any other name, rather than to seek fellowship with them.

1:10 “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” [ESV]

Paul addresses the church in Corinth but he might as well be addressing “the church of God that is in [enter your city here].” If we find sanctification in Christ Jesus, then we find a common union with people all across this globe who “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

How quickly we turn our eyes from the Gospel to the writings of theologians who are in “our camp” so to speak. “I follow Tim Kellor.” “Dude, I follow Mark Driscoll.” “I follow Luther.” “I follow Calvin.” “I follow the Pope.” All of these men have written, preached, said things that are worthy of our attention and helpful in our Christian walk; but, if we let our adherence to their writings cause division among us, then we have placed the writings of these men above scripture—which is not such a good thing.

As Christians we are to find a connection in Christ. We are baptized in His name. We profess faith in His name. We all find salvation in His atoning work. We join in common union through the remembrance of His body and blood. And thus as Christ followers all we must seek to unite under the banner of His love.

Organic Community: Fair Trade Faith

24 May

They come together out of common convictions. The love of company. Coffee.  Discussion about films and books. Some because of faith…or lack of. Some to garden.  Others to volunteer to serve the broader community which surrounds the neighborhood in which they typically cluster.  Those who embrace Christ have began to meet on Sundays to sing praise, read from scripture, pray, worship.  Community has come about not because someone determined it must. “Church” has taken a loose form not because there was a planter who sought to bring forth “church” from the soil, but because a seed had landed by happenstance and a church had emerged.

Fair Trade Faith

22 May

I’ve been toying with this idea of “Fair Trade Faith.”  A relationship between Christian teachers and leaders and believers that is mutually beneficial to the Kingdom of God.  A definition (borrowing from the Wikipedia post for “Fair Trade”) might be construed to look something like this:

Fair Trade Faith is a spiritual partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in Christ. It contributes to sustainable spiritual development by offering better conditions for discipleship, and securing salvation for God’s chosen. Fair Trade Faith Organizations (a.k.a. churches), backed by believers, are engaged actively in supporting pastors, awareness raising (a.k.a. evangelism and outreach) and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of traditional churches.

I’m playing with this as it would related to notions of “Organic Community” of Christians.  Even the notion of a church coming about it an organic fashion.