One of the most beautiful Christian hymns of all time is “How Great Thou Art.” The words reflect the awe that comes from observing the majesty of God’s creation, and from recognizing the gracious gift of His Son as the sacrifice for the sins of mankind. The author of this great hymn felt the same reverence for God that David expressed in Psa. 8:3, 4 when he said, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?”
The last stanza of this great song says, “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!” The chorus adds the exclamation point to this song of praise. “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; how great Thou art, how great Thou art!” These moving words are enhanced by the soaring musical score which has been applied to them. One cannot sing this wonderful hymn without his heart being stirred.
Obviously in the time of David looking up at the starry sky at night just naturally led one to exclaim the greatness of God. There was no question in David’s mind where all the majesty of the universe originated. He knew it came from the hand of God. In 1886, when Carl Boberg penned the words to “How Great Thou Art,” most people still had the same reaction as David when they observed the physical realm in which they lived. They knew and acknowledged that it came from God, and they were moved to extol His name for having created it.
In the years since “How Great Thou Art” was written a fundamental shift in attitude has taken place. The world has become less favorably inclined toward God. Modern science has played a large role in this transformation, although the secular philosophy of humanism has played an equally important role in turning society away from God. The result is that many people today no longer think of God as the originator of life. They are inclined either to not think about our origins, or to accept the idea that we evolved from lower forms of life. Society, like a ship without a rudder, has drifted aimlessly toward the chaos and degradation that is now prevalent.
The fact that many now ignore the greatness of God and the majesty of His creation does not change who He is, or what He has done for us. Even if the whole world chooses to deny Him, He is still the one and only, true and living God, who made heaven and earth and all that is in them. Even if the whole world denies Him, He is still the one who will pass judgment at the end of time on all who have ever lived on the earth.
When we see the beauty of the earth and when we ponder the complexities of nature and the abundance of life-sustaining elements that are present only on this place in the entire universe, we must exclaim, “My God, how great thou art!” When we consider the gift of His Son, by whose blood we are saved from our sins, we must exclaim, “My God, how great thou art!” No other response is sufficient.
God does not need our affirmation of His greatness in order to be great, but how can we refuse to give it? We are compelled by all that He is and by all that He has done to affirm the truth that there is no other God but Him. We are compelled by all that He is and by all that He has done to always proclaim, “How Great Thou Art!”