“When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.”
My niece started singing the beautiful words when the doctors stopped breathing for my 14-year-old daughter, Janessa. By the time we finished singing the verse, Janessa was singing “How Great Thou Art” before our almighty God in person. I thought my niece picked the perfect song to sing – one that reflected Janessa’s love for her Lord and her love for singing. Much later, I learned that my niece didn’t know the words to the song and that she heard another voice instead of her own. I believe God held open the curtains of heaven and allowed us to listen to Janessa praise Him as she arrived!
Whilst my wife Bridget and I were on holiday in Canada we visited Lake Louise in the Rockies. We sat by the lake looking across to the fabulous view on the far side. Whilst looking at the view a Korean lady and her husband were sitting on the next seat. She started humming ‘How Great Thou Art’ and we very quietly joined in. The lady just looked at us and smiled and said “Christian”, to which we smiled back. We knew no Korean and she knew almost no English but we knew we were friends because of our mutual love of Christ.
My mum, who is now 89, tells the story that when she and my dad, Bill and Olive Page, were married on the 26th July 1952, Stuart Hine played the organ at their wedding in a little Brethren church called Loughborough Hall in Camberwell, South London. How Great Thou Art! was one of their wedding hymns and it was sung by my dad’s sister Joyce. Joyce was also involved with helping Stuart run his “StickyBun Club” for young people at the church. Sonia, Stuart’s daughter, remembers this occasion and says: “Joyce had a beautiful singing voice”.
The reason I liked How Great Thou Art! was because it glorified God: it turned a Christian’s eyes toward God rather than upon himself, as so many songs do… it is such a God honouring song.
One of my favourite Gospel songs.
My personal all-time favorite has to be How Great Thou Art! This wonderful work is passionate and stirring. It is great fun to sing and I always find myself humming it for days after I have performed it. I can honestly say when I stand on stage that I am singing How Great Thou Art! to God. It is my way of saying “thank you” to Him for giving me what I have and even to thank Him for giving me the gift of being able to sing at all.
For celebrating the sheer glory of God there can be no greater hymn than How Great Thou Art! It is the kind of hymn which cries out to be sung on mountain tops when the glory of creation lies all around. I loved it from the moment I first heard it.