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What Do Elvis, Carrie Underwood, and Pentatonix have in Common?

Thursday, March 2 Lent Calendar* Invite: Watch the sunrise and/or sunset. Listen to “How Great Thou Art.”

A most glorious sunset caught us by surprise as my three children and I strolled the Ventura Pier.

In 1885, Swedish pastor and writer Carl Boberg wrote a poem called “O Store Gud” which would later become the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” The story begins when Boberg was on his way home from church. A storm caught him and his companions by surprise. Lightning flashed and thunder clapped. The group had to seek shelter. When the storm receded and the sky cleared, the beauty and wonder of creation and the God of it all left Boberg in awe. In response, he wrote a poem. That poem was set to a Swedish folk tune and sung in the area.

Flash forward to the 1930’s when English missionary Stuart K. Hine heard “O Store Gud.” He translated the song into English and renamed it “How Great Thou Art.” The hymn’s first two verses are about the wonder of God’s creation. The last two verses are about the wonder of the sacrificial love of Jesus. The hymn grew in popularity as it was sung at Billy Graham crusades. That popularity only grew as various artists through the years did their own renditions, including Elvis, Carrie Underwood, Pentatonix, and Lauren Daigle. When listing most popular hymns, it is usually “Amazing Grace” in first place followed by “How Great Thou Art” in second.

My earliest memory of this hymn is hearing it at the First Presbyterian Church in Huron, SD as I stood beside my grandparents in worship. Through the years, “How Great Thou Art” has begun playing on my internal record player, sometimes coming out of my vocal cords, when I have been struck by mountain grandeur or ocean waves or flowered fields or radiant sunsets.

Today you are invited to watch the sunrise and/or sunset. Watching the day begin or the day end is an opportunity to see the work of The Artist who continually seems to like to show off. In those turning points of the day, we find an opportunity to breath deep, to still our souls, and to remember the faithfulness of God who is at every turning point in our lives. As we accompany such turning points with “How Great Thou Art,” we can rest in the promise, as the final verse says, that even in the turning point of death, Christ shall welcome us home.

*Find the daily Lent calendar here; or for the Lent calendar more specific to Ascension Lutheran Church, go here.

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Tim Delkeskamp
Tim Delkeskamp
03 Mar 2023

Amen and amen!

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