‘How Great Thou Art’ Celebrates 75th Birthday

Since 1885, “How Great Thou Art” has endured as one of the most cherished hymns among Christians globally.

Though its roots lie in Europe, the hymn was officially published in the United States in 1949. Its prominence soared after a televised performance on June 16th, 1957, during Billy Graham’s New York Crusade. Baritone vocalist George Beverly Shea mesmerized approximately 19,000 attendees with his rendition, cementing the song’s place in worship tradition.

In honor of its anniversary, Integrity Music enlisted the talents of renowned Christian songwriters Matt Redman and Mitch Wong, both Grammy Award recipients, to craft a collaborative homage to the song.

They assembled a stellar lineup of Christian artists including Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, and Naomi Raine for the project.

Working together, the team faced what Redman described to Christianity Today as a “daunting” challenge: altering the song minimally and crafting a new fifth verse that harmonized with the depth of the preceding verses introduced by Stuart Hine. Hine, a British missionary, first encountered the hymn in Russian, translated it into English, and shared it with Ukrainian refugees during WWII.

Listen here:

This new verse is as follows:

Until that day
When heaven bids us welcome,
And as we walk this broken warring world,
Your kingdom come,
Deliver us from evil,
And we’ll proclaim our God how great You are! 

How Great Thou Art

The fifth verse was officially recorded at LA’s Gold Pacific Studios and Nashville’s esteemed RCA Studio B. The latter studio holds historical significance as Elvis Presley’s recording base, where he famously recorded his Grammy Award-winning rendition of “How Great Thou Art.”

Presley featured “How Great Thou Art” as the title track for his 1967 gospel album and clinched not just one, but two Grammy Awards for his rendition of the hymn, notably winning for Best Inspirational Performance and Best Sacred Performance.