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How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 12:43 pm

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How Great Thou Art was originally a 9-verse poem called "O Store Gud" and was written in 1885 by Carl Boberg. The poem was first published in the local newspaper Mönsterås-Tidningen on March 13, 1986.

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The south-east of Sweden. The environment that inspired Boberg.


According to J. Irving Ericsson (Twice-Born Hymns (1976) and Sing it Again (1985), pages 9-10; sourced from Wally Bratt, "On 'How Great Thou Art'", Pietisten 17:2 (Winter 2003)):

Carl Boberg and some friends were returning home to Mönsterås from Kronobäck, where they had participated in an afternoon service. Nature was at its peak that radiant afternoon. Presently a thundercloud appeared on the horizon, and soon sharp lightning flashed across the sky. Strong winds swept over the meadows and billowing fields of grain. The thunder pealed in loud claps. Then rain came in cool fresh showers. In a little while the storm was over, and a rainbow appeared.

When Boberg arrived home, he opened the window and saw the bay of Mönsterås like a mirror before him… From the woods on the other side of the bay, he heard the song of a thrush…the church bells were tolling in the quiet evening. It was this series of sights, sounds, and experiences that inspired the writing of the song.


According to Boberg's great-nephew, Bud Boberg: "My dad's story of its origin was that it was a paraphrase of Psalm 8 and was used in the 'underground church' in Sweden in the late 1800s when the Baptists and Mission Friends were persecuted."

The author, Carl Boberg himself gave the following information about the inspiration behind his poem:
"It was that time of year when everything seemed to be in its richest colouring; the birds were singing in trees and everywhere. It was very warm; a thunderstorm appeared on the horizon and soon thunder and lightning. We had to hurry to shelter. But the storm was soon over and the clear sky appeared. When I came home I opened my window toward the sea. There evidently had been a funeral and the bells were playing the tune of 'When eternity's clock calling my saved soul to its Sabbath rest.' That evening, I wrote the song, 'O Store Gud.'"


Streetview impression Kalmar in Småland nowadays, near the castle
https://www.google.nl/maps/@56.6575075,16.354454,3a,75y,280h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sD2SQKyA8PPjtoUXVZ0j2ag!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo0.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DD2SQKyA8PPjtoUXVZ0j2ag%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D280.699%26pitch%3D0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1



Carl Boberg

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Carl Gustav Boberg (August 16, 1859 – January 07, 1940) was a Swedish poet, writer, and elected official, best known for writing the Swedish language poem of "O Store Gud" (O great God) from which the English language hymn "How Great Thou Art" is derived.

Born in Mönsterås, Kalmar County in Småland, Boberg was a carpenter’s son, worked briefly as a sailor, and served as a lay minister in the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden. He was the editor of a weekly Christian newspaper, Sanningsvittnet (Witness of the Truth), from 1890 until 1916. Boberg served in the Swedish Parliament for 20 years from 1912 to 1931. He published more than 60 poems, hymns and gospel songs, including a collaboration with Swedish hymnist Lina Sandell.


Gospel vs Hymn
Technically a gospel song differs from a hymn in that the gospel song invariably has a refrain and customarily (though not always) uses a less stately cadence. The gospel song, as a musical form, spread widely in Protestantism during the 19th century and to a lesser extent in Roman Catholicism; Eastern Orthodox churches largely continue to adhere to chants in the worship per se. Unless altered considerably, O STORE GUD and "How Great Thou Art" form a gospel song. "Amazing Grace" (when sung to its own familiar tune, which lacks a refrain) is a hymn.



The poem O Store Gud

O store Gud, när jag den värld beskådar,
Som du har skapat med ditt allmaktsord,
Hur där din visdom leder livets trådar,
Och alla väsen mättas vid ditt bord.

Kör

Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
O store Gud! O store Gud!
Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
O store Gud! O store Gud!

När sommarvinden susar över fälten,
När blommor dofta invid källans rand,
När trastar drilla i de gröna tälten,
Vid furuskogens tysta, dunkla rand;

Kör

När jag i bibeln skådar alla under,
Som Herren gjort se’n förste Adams tid,
Hur nådefull Han varit alla stunder,
Och hjälpt sitt folk ur livets synd och strid;

Kör

När slutligt alla tidens höljen falla,
Uti åskådning byter sig min tro,
Och evighetens klara klockor kalla,
Min frälsta ande till dess sabbatsro;

Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
Tack store Gud! Tack store Gud!
Då brister själen ut i lovsångsljud:
Tack store Gud! Tack store Gud!

[youtube][/youtube]

In 1891 the lyrics were set to a traditional Swedish folksong melody and published on February 16, 1891 in the Swedish publication "Sanningsvittnet" (Truth Witness). Manfred von Glehn (1867-1924), who lived in Estonia at the time, translated the song into German in 1907. In that translation the song got the title "Wie groß bist du" (how big are you), the first line was "You großer Gott" (you great God).

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In church it sounded like this:





In 1927 Ivan Stepanovich Prochanov published a Russian version, which the missionary Stuart K. Hine found in Ukraine in 1933 and he translated it into English as "How Great Thou Art," building on an earlier translation of E. Gustav Johnson (1893–1974) from 1925 (then a professor of North Park College, Illinois. His translation of verses 1, 2, and 7-9 was published in the United States in the Covenant Hymnal as "O Mighty God" in 1925). In this final form as translated by Hine the song was sung at evangelism meetings in England during World War II. A fourth verse was added in 1948.


Stuart K. Hine

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Stuart K. Hine was born in 1899 in Great Britain. In much of Stuart’s earlier years he and his wife were missionaries in the Western Ukraine of Russia, where they evangelized as Christian workers and singers. In 1931, Stuart K. Hine and his wife returned to Britain and conducted gospel campaigns throughout Great Britain. During those years, Stuart published many song books and wrote many of his beloved gospel songs. Stuart retired from the active ministry but continued to publish his song books and his music and contributed the majority of his income to various missionary endeavors around the world. Stuart K. Hine’s most popular composition is “How Great Thou Art,” which is recognized in many polls as the number one Hymn in America. Among his other compositions are “Can There Be One,” “O Savior Mine?”, “Faith Is The Bridge,” and “What Can Cleanse My heart?” Mr. Hine died in 1989.



An English version from 1961 as sung by George Beverly Shea at a Billy Graham evangelism meeting.





Meanwhile, in a different part of the world, the song slowly became a traditional Waiata.

Waiata

Waiata – songs, chants, hymns, lullabies, love songs, laments etc. – are sung to embellish speeches, to convey a particular message, to impart a story or historical event or to entertain or bring closure as a single entity. Every culture has its own form of song and dance and use them as a way of expressing who they are and what they’re about.

In Māoridom*, waiata are used in all of these ways and more. Waiata is an integral part of formal speech-making and a vital way of expressing ourselves, both traditionally and contemporarily.


* Maori - an ethnic minority of Polynesian and Melanesian descent who speak Maori and live in New Zealand.


How Great Thou Art is here translated as Whakaaria Mai:

Whakaaria Mai

Whakaaria mai
Tōu rīpeka ki a au
Tiaho mai
Rā roto i te pō
Hei konā au
Titiro atu ai
Ora, mate,
Hei a au koe noho ai

Show your cross to me
Let it shine
there in the darkness
To there I
will be looking
In life, in death,
let me rest in thee.

Oh 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

Whakaaria mai tōu rīpeka ki au
Tiaho mai, ra roto i te pō
Hei kona au, titiro atu ai
Ora, mate, hei au koe noho ai



Prince Tui Teka:



And a more traditional version by The St Joseph's Maori Girls' College Kapa Haka group (2010):



A very good version of the song is to be found on this CD by Kiri Te Kanawa and the New Zeeland Symphony Orchestra. The CD is filled with Waiata. Hence the title. It can be heard on Spotify.
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Credits to the song Whakaaria Mai on this CD: Maori Traditional. Nothing more.



Elvis recorded his studio version on May 25, 1966.



It would become one of his favorites at his live shows in the years to come.


OTHER VERSIONS

American Idol winner and country star Carrie Underwood (2010):



Cesar Espinoza from Ecuador:



Willie Nelson:



Lauren Daigle - acoustic (2014)




SOURCES
http://davidneale.eu/elvis/originals/list4.html#S1249
http://wpedia.goo.ne.jp/enwiki/How_Great_Thou_Art_(hymn)
http://www.hymntime.com/tch/non/sv/ostoregu.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Boberg
https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_store_Gud
http://www.gmahalloffame.org/speaker-lineup/stuart-k-hine/
http://maori.otago.ac.nz/reo-tikanga-treaty/te-reo/waiata
http://www.allmusic.com/performance/whakaaria-mai-mq0002132168

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:51 pm

Nice topic :)
Never cared for this song...or the album.... but I do think the Memphis 74 20/3 version is pretty good.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:56 pm

I prefer the 1977 Omaha version

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:08 pm

Other recordings:

00-00-54 - Bill Carle (Sacred records 501 + album) = original version (with English lyrics);
00-01-57 - Stuart Hamblen (LP);
23-01-57 - Blackwood Brothers Quartet (RCA 20-7130);
04-12-57 - Jimmie Davis (Decca 30768);
00-00-61 - The Statesmen Quartet (LP);
30-01-62 - Jimmie Davis (LP).


colonel snow
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:16 pm

How Great Thou Art is one of Elvis's best songs (and albums). I feel lots of uplifting spiritual energy when I hear this album. It's my favorite of his Gospel albums. Really, all of his religious songs are very uplifting. I often put them on when I'm in a bad mood and it completely changes how I feel.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:17 pm

colonel snow wrote:Other recordings:

00-00-54 - Bill Carle (Sacred records 501 + album) = original version (with English lyrics);
00-01-57 - Stuart Hamblen (LP);
23-01-57 - Blackwood Brothers Quartet (RCA 20-7130);
04-12-57 - Jimmie Davis (Decca 30768);
00-00-61 - The Statesmen Quartet (LP);
30-01-62 - Jimmie Davis (LP).


colonel snow


Thank you colonel snow!



00-01-57 - Stuart Hamblen (LP)



23-01-57 - Blackwood Brothers Quartet (RCA 20-7130)



JIMMIE DAVIS



00-00-61 - The Statesmen Quartet (LP)




And this one I forgot in my OP:

ELVIS PRESLEY - HOW GREAT THOU ART (1974 GRAMMY WINNER VERSION)




And again the environment which inspired Carl Boberg in 1885 to write his poem:


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Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:33 pm

Thanks! My favorite is the 1974 Memphis.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:34 pm

How Great Thou Art is one of my favorite albums from Elvis. As for the song, I like the live versions from 1970 and 1971 best.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:03 pm

A crucial fact not mentioned on this topic is that friend and singer Charlie Hodge was the one who brought this song to Elvis' attention, playing the rendition (originally released in the mid-fifties) by the Sons of the Pioneers. Score one for the man from Decatur, Alabama!

It's not clear if Charlie had the single, EP or LP, but my guess is the latter.



551224_RCA 6376_Sons of Pioneers.jpg
Sons of the Pioneers "How Great Thou Art" (RCA 6376, December 24, 1955)



570520_RCA EPA 1431.jpg
Sons of the Pioneers How Great Thou Art (RCA EPA 1431, May 20, 1957)



570520_RCA LPM 1431.jpg
Sons of the Pioneers How Great Thou Art (RCA LPM 1431, May 20, 1957)


This track is not on YouTube, but here's a :30 snippet of the version that turned Elvis onto the song:

http://media.ecommerceplayer.com/32aaaf53-6221-4c9a-b100-ecd5b1ba9ab3/ecpPlayer.swf?initexemel=http://media.ecommerceplayer.com/32aaaf53-6221-4c9a-b100-ecd5b1ba9ab3/config.xml

Note the other :30 is the single's A-side, "The Last Frontier." Interestingly, the very same Sons of the Pioneers recording was promoted at the same time as a newly-signed singer to the label ...



Billboard Jan 07 1956 p45.JPG
Billboard - January 7, 1956



Also not mentioned is that, at the Nashville gospel sessions in May 1966, Ray Walker of the Jordanaires recalls the vocal group working for hours around the piano with Presley on the arrangement, including someone going out and getting the sheet music for reference.


https://books.google.com/books?id=ls5HKtNBSncC&pg=PT37
https://books.google.com/books?id=eqk_FH7oB7IC&pg=PT272
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:07 pm

If you want to dig up more versions:

Here's an updated list with recordings:

00-00-54 - Bill Carle (Sacred records 501 + LP) = original version;
00-00-54 - The Spencer Family (???);
00-00-55 - George Beverly Shea (RCA 20-6068);
08-12-55 - Sons of the Pioneers (RCA 20-6376);
10-01-57 - Stuart Hamblen (LP);
23-01-57 - Blackwood Brothers Quartet (RCA 20-7130);
04-12-57 - Jimmie Davis (Decca 30768);
00-04-58 - Plainsmen Quartet (LP);
00-00-58 - The Florida Boys (LP);
00-00-59 - Foggy river boys (Foggy rec. 100);
00-00-59 - King's Heralds (LP);
00-00-60 - Bill Gaither Trio (LP);
00-00-60 - Couriers Quartet (LP);
00-00-60 - The Harvesters (LP);
00-00-60 - Weatherford Quartet (LP);
00-01-61 - The Jordanaires (LP);
00-00-61 - Statesmen Quartet (LP);
00-00-61 - Gospel Harmony boys (LP);
00-00-61 - Harmoneers (LP);
30-01-62 - Jimmie Davis (re-recording for LP);
03-08-62 - Tennesssee Ernie Ford (LP);
00-00-62 - Lefevres (LP);
00-00-62 - The Rebels (LP);
00-00-62 - Songfellows Quartet (LP);
00-00-63 - Tennesseans Qt (LP);
00-00-63 - The Hoppers (LP);
00-00-63 - The Inspirations (LP);
00-00-64 - J.D. Sumner & The Stamps Qt (LP);
00-00-64 - Cathedrals Quartet (LP);
00-00-65 - Blue Ridge Quartet (LP);
00-00-65 - Rusty Goodman & Jubilee Choir (LP).


colonel snow

Re: How Great Thou Art

Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:29 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:A crucial fact not mentioned on this topic is that friend and singer Charlie Hodge was the one who brought this song to Elvis' attention, playing the rendition (originally released in the mid-fifties) by the Sons of the Pioneers. Score one for the man from Decatur, Alabama!

It's not clear if Charlie had the single, EP or LP, but my guess is the latter.




Thanks for narrowing down the broader topic about the song to Elvis' version. A nice add-on to this topic. Didn't know about the Sons of the Pioneers version as given by Charlie Hodge. That version is really hard to find.


Don't know if Roy Rogers was still part of the Sons of the Pioneers at the time, but he also sung a (duet) version together with Dale Evans on their 1962 album The Bible Tells Me So (Capitol 1745).

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Re: How Great Thou Art

Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:00 am

Here is the hard-to-find version of "How Great Thou Art" by the Sons of the Pioneers that turned Elvis onto the song, as detailed in my previous contribution:



phpBB [media]


Sons of the Pioneers "How Great Thou Art" (RCA 6376, December 24, 1955)



Listen to lead singer Bob Nolan and you can hear some of what Elvis would take from it, especially in the live versions done in the 1970s. And that very prominent soprano in the background, could it be future studio favorite Millie Kirkham?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Nolan

Pretty cool. Thanks, Charlie.


P.S. Roy Rogers' last session with the Sons of the Pioneers was in 1949.



drjohncarpenter wrote:A crucial fact not mentioned on this topic is that friend and singer Charlie Hodge was the one who brought this song to Elvis' attention, playing the rendition (originally released in the mid-fifties) by the Sons of the Pioneers. Score one for the man from Decatur, Alabama!

It's not clear if Charlie had the single, EP or LP, but my guess is the latter.



Image

Sons of the Pioneers "How Great Thou Art" (RCA 6376, December 24, 1955)



Image

Sons of the Pioneers How Great Thou Art (RCA EPA 1431, May 20, 1957)



Image

Sons of the Pioneers How Great Thou Art (RCA LPM 1431, May 20, 1957)


This track is not on YouTube, but here's a :30 snippet of the version that turned Elvis onto the song:

http://media.ecommerceplayer.com/32aaaf53-6221-4c9a-b100-ecd5b1ba9ab3/ecpPlayer.swf?initexemel=http://media.ecommerceplayer.com/32aaaf53-6221-4c9a-b100-ecd5b1ba9ab3/config.xml

Note the other :30 is the single's A-side, "The Last Frontier." Interestingly, the very same Sons of the Pioneers recording was promoted at the same time as a newly-signed singer to the label ...



Image

Billboard - January 7, 1956



Also not mentioned is that, at the Nashville gospel sessions in May 1966, Ray Walker of the Jordanaires recalls the vocal group working for hours around the piano with Presley on the arrangement, including someone going out and getting the sheet music for reference.


https://books.google.com/books?id=ls5HKtNBSncC&pg=PT37
https://books.google.com/books?id=eqk_FH7oB7IC&pg=PT272

Re: How Great Thou Art

Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:52 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Here is the hard-to-find version of "How Great Thou Art" by the Sons of the Pioneers that turned Elvis onto the song, as detailed in my previous contribution:



phpBB [media]


Sons of the Pioneers "How Great Thou Art" (RCA 6376, December 24, 1955)



Listen to lead singer Bob Nolan and you can hear some of what Elvis would take from it, especially in the live versions done in the 1970s. And that very prominent soprano in the background, could it be future studio favorite Millie Kirkham?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Nolan

Pretty cool. Thanks, Charlie.


P.S. Roy Rogers' last session with the Sons of the Pioneers was in 1949.





This is really fantastic. Thanks doc and EyeShotFirst!



Looking at the songs the Sons of the Pioneers sang, it wouldn't amaze me if Charlie Hodge brought more of their music to Elvis' attention (http://www.oldies.com/artist-songs/Sons-of-Pioneers.html). I haven't checked the recording/release dates...

- Somebody Bigger Than You And I
- Stand By Me
- There Goes My Everything

From
Image

- Crying In The Chapel
- If We Never Meet Again
- O Sole Mio
- Silver Bells

....

.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:06 pm

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Just for fun. How Great Thou Art across the globe:


Spanish
Cuan grande es el (con letra) - Crystal Lewis



Chinese
你真偉大



German
Oswald Sattler - Wie gross bist du



Dutch
Hoe Groot Zijt Gij - Hans Vermeulen



Swahili
Bwana Mungu Nashangaa Kabisa



Polish
Paweł Bączkowski - Jak Wielki Jesteś



Czech
Jak velký jsi - sbor



Armenian



French
DIEU TOUT PUISSANT - DARCY MADER



Arabic
نفسى تغنى يا مخلصى



Tamil
என் ஆன்மா பாடும் இரட்சகா, தேவா! நீர் எத்தனை பெரியவர்



Etc....

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Re: How Great Thou Art

Thu Aug 25, 2016 6:04 pm

I like the 60's recording and the 74 version .
Great history behind the song I never knew about before.

Back in the 1990's when I'd tape a lot of stuff onto VHS,I used to tape lot's of Grand Ole Opry episodes.
I used to have this clip uploaded and then a couple years ago I took it all down.
Seems appropriate to upload it again here.
This is a show when Connie Smith hosted and it was an all gospel songs show.
J'D. Somner & the Stamps were on with Connie and they sang How Great Thou Art together.
Connie also mentions Elvis and that J.D. & the Stamps did the song with Elvis.
This was broadcast on May 27th,1995.



Connie's Record.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Thu Aug 25, 2016 6:30 pm

Johnny Cash:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4arrdrAjxtg

:smt006

Re: How Great Thou Art

Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:26 am

svallen wrote:Johnny Cash:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4arrdrAjxtg

:smt006


Thanks.



.

Re: How Great Thou Art

Fri Aug 26, 2016 9:48 pm

Of interest from reference record. http://www18.zippyshare.com/v/3CcP6hf1/file.html

Re: How Great Thou Art

Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:20 pm

MikeFromHolland wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Here is the hard-to-find version of "How Great Thou Art" by the Sons of the Pioneers that turned Elvis onto the song, as detailed in my previous contribution:



phpBB [media]


Sons of the Pioneers "How Great Thou Art" (RCA 6376, December 24, 1955)



Listen to lead singer Bob Nolan and you can hear some of what Elvis would take from it, especially in the live versions done in the 1970s. And that very prominent soprano in the background, could it be future studio favorite Millie Kirkham?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Nolan

Pretty cool. Thanks, Charlie.


P.S. Roy Rogers' last session with the Sons of the Pioneers was in 1949.





This is really fantastic.


This is what I do. ;-)

::rocks

Re: How Great Thou Art

Sat Aug 27, 2016 8:08 am

And here is one of my favorite versions of "How Great Thou Art", released in 1975 by The Statler Brothers:

Re: How Great Thou Art

Sat Aug 27, 2016 8:27 am

Elvis 1972