This song was originally a Swedish folk melody,
"O Store Gud" by Carl Boberg (1859-1940).
It was translated by Stuart K. Hine in 1899.



The farmhouse was on a few acres of land where mostly cotton grew, with the help from her husband and my dad. She and my mom tended the garden where they grew almost everything they ate. The men spent most of their time in the fields, and the women spent most of their time in the kitchen. I spent most of my time just watching them. I was the only kid in the house, except when my cousins would visit.


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 Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul! my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


On Sundays, we'd go to church where my dad was usually the preacher. This was a small country Primitive Baptist church and it was just a part-time job for him. I guess he did a good job; they kept asking him to continue doing it. When we'd get home from church, ma-ma would play her piano in the living room after the conversations died down. Her favorite song was "How Great Thou Art." She'd sing it as she played.


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 hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze,

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul! my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


The sun would come through the windows at a low angle, looking much differently to me than it must have looked to the adults. They would wander off to do other things, but I'd stay there and listen to ma-ma play that old piano. It was a player piano, but it didn't have the player mechanisms. I wonder where she got that old instrument? I never asked.


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.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul! my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


This was usually one of the first songs she'd play, but when it was just the two of us left, she'd let me sit up on the piano stool with her, and she'd play me the special version. The special version included tears and a look in her eye that said, "I'd love to make you know how much this song means to me. Can I? Is there some way I can tell you?"


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.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul! my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


We played this song at her funeral. It wasn't until a few years later that I think I really understood what the song said to her. It gave her the sense of potential future peace to get through a long and sometimes cruel life without ever complaining.

It shaped and formed her. . . . And I loved the shape and form that was her. I scarce can take it in.

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