Day 5

How Great Thou Art

from the Hymns reading plan


Psalm 121:1-8, Psalm 145:3-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Does your soul ever sing? That phrase sounds a bit odd. We sing in the car when a favorite tune comes on. We sing the national anthem at sporting events. We sing in church (sometimes). We say that good news is music to our ears and the sound of bacon frying is sweet music too. But do our souls sing?

That’s the refrain of “How Great Thou Art”— “Then sings my soul…”

But what does that mean?

My guess is that each of us knows what it means even if it is not the phrase we’ve used. Maybe we’ve never put words to the experience of the soaring, lifting, and filling of the soul—to the passion and joy that sometimes wells up in us— or maybe we can’t put words to it. But each verse of this hymn paints a picture of those things that might make a soul sing.

Verse one looks at the cosmos, the whole universe. It sees the power and bigness and majesty of God’s creation expanding beyond our sight, bigger than our comprehension. I think about lying in a canoe at night in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, staring at a sky so full of stars that it’s nearly as bright as the dawn. That makes my soul sing.

Verse two focuses in on the tangible creation—the sounds of birds and beautiful mountain views. I think of climbing House Mountain in East Tennessee, scrambling over boulders and pulling myself up on saplings and over fallen trees so that I could step onto a rocky outcrop and see the view of the valley below. The breeze cooled me and the quiet was so still that I could hear my soul sing then too.

While those verses offer hints of what it is that fills our soul, verses 3 and 4 dive deep into what the song of our souls really is. Yes, God created a majestic beautiful world that makes us feel and yearn, but we don’t find fullness in that. He did something more. He sent His Son to take our sins from us, to suffer and die on our behalf, to bear the burden we could not bear. Indeed, “I scarce can take it in.”

But that is not all.

The final glorious stanza of the hymn reveals the final glorious stanza of God’s mission – Christ shall come and will be greeted with shouts of praise. We will “bow in humble adoration” because His glory will be so great. Wrongs will be made right. Sin and pain will be abolished. There is only one response to this: “My God, how great Thou Art!”

What makes your soul sing? Don’t stop at the song of nature, no matter how beautiful it is. Find the truest soul song there is in the work Jesus Christ has done for you.

Written by Barnabas Piper

How Great Thou Art
Carl Gustav Boberg, 1885; Stuart K. Hine, c. 1920

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:

Refrain

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!

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:

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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!

For an added layer of worship during reading plan, we’ve created a Spotify playlist for Hymns. You can find the complete HRT Hymns Playlist here, or listen to the first track on the player below. Enjoy!

Post Comments (87)

87 thoughts on "How Great Thou Art"

  1. Kyle says:

    We can take for granted how great the things around us are, and our souls should be singing for what Jesus has done more than anything else.

  2. Kyle says:

    How great he is!

  3. Kyle says:

    Try to focus on Jesus as being what my soul sings of the most.

  4. Kyle says:

    God showed His greatness by coming to us in Jesus.

  5. Austin Rossborough says:

    We are made to worship God.

  6. Austin Rossborough says:

    It is a wondrous thing and it fills us with joy!

  7. Austin Rossborough says:

    By saying thank you!

  8. Austin Rossborough says:

    He is great, majestic and awe inspiring.

  9. Austin Rossborough says:

    In thankfulness.

  10. Patrick Shen says:

    He is larger, more majestic and all encompassing than my heart can fathom. In that place of realization, my soul marvels at his being. This makes my focus on the negative shift to the epic power of God that simultaneously acknowledges and overwhelms all things I can experience.

  11. Patrick Shen says:

    That God addresses all things. That the wonder of the cosmos he created and manages. Moving down the ladder of the creation you get to humans. Here I see even in our small place in the universe he has created an epic and wonderful plan. Birth, Death, Resurrection, All in Christ Jesus.

  12. Patrick Shen says:

    We are small. But when we take the time to stop to enjoy God, we get see and experience his epic goodness.

  13. Patrick Shen says:

    I will still my heart. I will take the time to “go to the mountain top” and survey his greatness. I will ponder all the works of his hands and wonder. In two short words; quiet-time and worship.

  14. Patrick Shen says:

    I will pray remembering that God is powerful and ever mindful of all my seasons of life. His plans and influence is in the macro and the micro.

  15. Jarod Workman says:

    We should be expressing praise at all times.

  16. Jarod Workman says:

    God is more than we could ever express in mortal terms.

  17. Kyle says:

    Man can sing out to God with their souls. It can be the goosebumps you feel when you’re singing worship, or the sense of appreciation one has when perceiving nature’s beauty, or the joy we sense when we make another human happy. Whatever it is to you, it’s your way of crying out with your soul, “How great thou art!”

  18. Kyle says:

    God’s power is awesome. His greatness no one can fathom. He is abundant goodness, pure righteousness, and glorious splendor.

  19. Kyle says:

    I will look for ways to allow my soul to sing. I will cry out with every fibre of my soul: “How Great Thou Art!”

  20. Kyle says:

    The Gospel is still the only way to have a blessed assurance in life. It’s the promise from God that we will be with Him, in all His splendor, if we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

  21. Kyle says:

    Dear Lord,
    I am so overwhelmed by Your grace, Your love, Your compassion– I am overwhelmed by You, Lord. I am humbled to be Your child, and because of that I want to give you everything. Lord, take everything from me if that’s Your will, if that’s what You want. The only thing I want is to know You and do everything for Your glory. Lead me to Your calling, and when I’m there let my soul cry relentlessly “HOW GREAT THOU ART!”

  22. Andrew C says:

    God loves us. And He is worthy to be praised. He sent His son as a perfect sacrifice so that we may be viewed as righteous in His eyes. That’s a God who loves His children.

  23. Andrew C says:

    That God is good and He loves us unconditionally. He even allow our souls to sing so that we can praise Him even more.

  24. Andrew C says:

    Find what makes my soul sing. Analyze if what makes it sing is really what should make It sing.

  25. Andrew C says:

    That all too often we believe our “soul sings” for very unworthy things. Our soul should sing for The Lord and what He has done.

  26. Joel Selby says:

    I am God’s creation; He made me with His own hands and according to His own design. He knows me and wants me to be reconciled to Him; He jealously wants me to value Him over anything else in His created world.

  27. Joel Selby says:

    My God is big; bigger than the whole cosmos, which He created with His own hands and by His own design. He also truly cares about me—He cares so much that He sent His only son to come and die for me.

  28. Joel Selby says:

    I will respond to His grandeur by humbling myself to Him daily, repenting of my sin and forsaking it, in order that He may be glorified by everything I do.

  29. Joel Selby says:

    The good news for me is that so God desires communion with me, His creation, that He sent Jesus to this earth to atone for my sin, that I would have the perfect opportunity to be reconciled to Him.

  30. Nathan says:

    I will put my trust I God and see his faithfulness. I will open my eyes and see, open my mouth and taste how good God is.

  31. Nathan says:

    Man sometimes gets caught up in worshiping creation, over the creator.

  32. Nathan says:

    God gives us true love and satisfaction. Nature (God’s Art) is beautiful and amazing, but it doesn’t give life to us. The only one that can guard us and guide us and care for us is God!

  33. Nathan says:

    God’s promises hold true. He will guard us. He won’t ever let us down.

  34. Nathan says:

    Lord, what you created is beautiful. I love being in your presence, and seeing your beauty. You won’t ever let me down, and I’ll lean on your promises. Open my eyes to see your beauty and goodness in my life.

  35. Jantzen says:

    God’s love is a reckless love in that he was willing to sacrifice his only perfect son for unworthy sinners.

  36. Jantzen says:

    It’s beautiful. It reveals our hope in Christ.

  37. Jantzen says:

    Look for what makes my soul sing then remember to worship the creator through it.

  38. Jantzen says:

    We must adore Him who saves us. Our soul shall sing if God has truly made his home in us.

  39. Letto says:

    That our proper response is to be filled with wonder and adoration of all that the creator has formed.

  40. Letto says:

    That he is truly all that is great.

  41. Letto says:

    It is truly beautiful to the eyes sweet to ears and filling to the soul.

  42. Letto says:

    In worship.

  43. Letto says:

    In adoration.

  44. Matt Rouse says:

    Wow!! God is unbelievably powerful! With one word for his mouth mountains crumble, the dead are raised, I who was dead in sin am now alive and at rest 😃 If anyone can be considered trust worts even when we don’t understand, it’s God!

  45. Matt Rouse says:

    My attempts to please God are like an ant trying to please me multiplied out by infinity. I don’t know why we think we can earn anything from our God who moves mountains with a word. He doesn’t need us to accomplish good because he is he definition of good. He just wants us to love Him because he knows that is what will satisfy us.

  46. Matt Rouse says:

    To have a relationship with an all powerful God is an amazing thing. When we let go of our power and rest in His we are in a place of security like no other! Earthly powers will tremble when he comes back!

  47. Isaac Jones says:

    Mans rightful place is glorifying God with praise and devotion. Man should bask in awe and adoration of God.bFrom a right understanding of God we should let obedience and disciple flow out like a might river in accordance to what we receive: the torrent of Gods Spirit.

  48. Isaac Jones says:

    God has made all, is above all, and exists outside of all. God is worthy of awe because He is bigger and more glorious than anything we can see or touch. God made everything and is greater than everything.

  49. Isaac Jones says:

    God is good and greater than man; man should go to God for hope, and salvation.

  50. Isaac Jones says:

    I will respond in a prayer of acknowledgement.

  51. Isaac Jones says:

    Heavenly God and gracious Father,

    Thank you for opening my mind to begin understanding how great you are. Father you are more beautiful than the starts and more powerful than the ocean. You are more imposing that a mountain or a torrent waterfall. God you are great and all nature proclaims your greatness. Glory to God who is seated on the throne. His is all might and dominion and authority. Gracious God reveal yourself to me. Help me to see that I may worship you rightly; in Jesus name,
    Amen

  52. Braden Mcalister says:

    This teaches me that since God sent his only son to die on a cross for our sins that we need to give it all to God to praise him for he made a way to heaven for us.

  53. Braden Mcalister says:

    This teaches me that God is so big and so beautiful that simply just singing isn’t enough. We need to give our entire bodies to him including our souls which should sing out to him in praise.

  54. Braden Mcalister says:

    I will find were my soul sings and rejoice in it. I will give my all to God every day and praise him always.

  55. Braden Mcalister says:

    This teaches me that man is a piece of God’s plan and that we should give our all to God.

  56. Braden Mcalister says:

    I will pray for the lord to speak to me and show me where to find the spot where my soul will sing and also I will pray for strength to be constant in God and not fall from the word of God.

  57. andrew says:

    His majesty is immeasurable and His glory is inconceivable. His goodness is impossible to compare with anything on this earth, but this earth shows His goodness so very well. He is worthy of praise and He deserves all glory.

  58. andrew says:

    Lord, allow my soul to sing loudly. bring me to my knees every single time i think of your grace and your goodness. thank you for your Son. thank you for loving me enough to save me. thank you for giving me much more than i deserve. thank you, God.

  59. Tom Macias says:

    It is the evidence of his love. He made this beautiful place for us. Gave us everything and we squandered it. Then he gave even beyond that and sent his son to die for us. To pay our debt so that he could be close to us again.

  60. Tom Macias says:

    We take this glorious gift of our world and even further, our salvation, for granted. He paid the ultimate price for us and we don’t even realize. How poorly we treat the earth and our fellow man speaks to how little we understand what we’ve been given.

  61. Tom Macias says:

    He’s so big and incredible, my mind can’t even begin to comprehend his massiveness. It shows me that he is so much more powerful, intelligent, and in control beyond what I can understand. He is a big God who cares for little me. He loves me and made this universe for us to enjoy. What a loving father.

  62. Tom Macias says:

    I will be thankful for every detail of my world. God has given us so much and it’s easy to fee the need or want for more. I will be content in what he has given me. I will find security in his relationship with me. I will trust that the all powerful God knows what is best for me and wants that.

  63. Nick S says:

    God created a beautiful and majestic world that makes us feel and yearn but he did not create this awesome world for us to find fullness in it but only in himself.

    God is so great!

    God is trust worthy. The Lord is the maker of heaven and earth. He is my helper. He is my refuge. He is my comfort. He is sovereign. He watches over me. He cares for me in distress.

    God is greater than I Can even imagine. He is good. He is righteous. His works are awesome. He is Glorious.

    He will come back. Ready for war. He will rescue his people

  64. Nick S says:

    When man fixes his eyes on the Lord he is overcome with joy and wonder, praise comes from his mouth and from his heart. When man sees the beauty of God he cannot help but respond in worship.

    Man is needy of God and can find ultimate satisfaction and fullness in him.

    We belong to Christ.

  65. Nick S says:

    God is our savior, our refuge, our help. Jesus died so we might have life in him, realize his greatness, be raised on the last day, worship him forever more.

    He will take away our sin and our pain. The glory of God is clearly displayed.

  66. Nick S says:

    I will respond by praising my God! He is so great! He is faithful to me, he never leaves my side! His love for me remains at all times. He is not far from me, he is actually very close.

    I want to experience the goodness and glory of God. I want to feel his presence. I want to be filled up by him. I want to praise him. He is a mighty God!

  67. Nick S says:

    God,

    I surrender to you today. I want to taste your goodness. I want to be still & know that you are God. You are my helper, my deliverer, my rescue, my comfort, my defender, my goodness, my righteousness, my glory, my satisfaction.

    God make me a man who loves you. Take away this apathy in my heart. Take away my laziness. Take away my idolatry, my love for sin & things. Show me your glory, let me find my joy in you, let me love you, let me be satisfied in you. Let me get excited about you. Let me feel you. Fill me with your spirit, impress upon my heart. Use me for your glory.

    Let me share your greatness with those around me. To tell of your greatness to your people. To tell of your greatness to those outside the fold of God, that they might also see your glory and be grafted in.

    God, you are great!

  68. Austin Helsel says:

    God will descend from the heavens

  69. Dalton Beaty says:

    He is above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine. His creation is something that I personally marvel at it’s beauty, and thank him for his endless creativity in nature. But I never place that over the ultimate awe-some sacrifice of His son for my sin. I get into His creation in order to be with Him, and to feel His presence in tranquility. I love being alone with Him in His creation, but His sacrifice never slips my mind.

  70. Dalton Beaty says:

    I typically get into nature so that I can be alone in His presence and appreciate more what an artist He is, and How creative he is. That is my favorite place to be alone with God. But I want that to be a part of my fuel to spread His Gospel, and His love and His truth. I want the beauty of what He does be motivation to try and uncover that for those around me as well.

  71. Dalton Beaty says:

    As wicked, cruel, twisted as man is, there is still a sense of wonder that we have for nature. It is a natural inclination to appreciate a beautiful sunset, or a mountain backdrop. But it is not a natural inclination for us to appreciate where it came from. We leave the appreciation at seeing the wondrous sight with our eyes alone. Not allowing us to experience the presence of God in that moment. We are so quick to overlook the creator when appreciating creation. An artwork may be nice to look at, but there is no value without knowing who the artist was, and having his signature. God’s signature is all over His creation n, but why do we give no value to his creation. We simply look at the canvas, and then continue on without a second thought.

  72. Dalton Beaty says:

    The Gospel is something that should make our “soul sing”. As beautiful as all of creation is, and all of the things that meet our eyes on a daily basis, the most beautiful thing our Father has EVER done happened on the cross in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

  73. Dalton Beaty says:

    I will continue to praise God for his abundant creativity in the world around me, praise Him for the time they he took, and the thought that He put into all that we see and have for our enjoyment.

  74. Jason says:

    That he created all the things that can make your soul sing with rejoice.

  75. Jason says:

    That everything that God created can aspire and touch the soul of man if not taken for granted all the wonderful creations he has given us.

  76. Josh McGuire says:

    We are frail and insignificant beings. We are fickle and are driven every which way by the slightest wind and the smallest wave.

    We have no power with in us to save us.

  77. Josh McGuire says:

    God is the creator and sustainer of all things. He created the vastness of space, the mountains in all their greatness and the depths of the oceans. This same God, this Master craftsman saw fit to give up his son for a creation that scorned him. A people who declared war and sought to become greater than he.

    The greatest offense that could ever be committed was thrown by us towards God. Yet, in his mercy and in his grace he sent his Son to die in our place to atone for our sins against him.

  78. Lukas Fortunato says:

    Father, thank you for the things you have made. Thank you for Lake Tahoe, for Yellowstone, for the Andes. Thank you for the wonder it stirs in me. Thank you that your redemption, love, and grace in my life brings me wonder and caused my soul to sing.

  79. Lukas Fortunato says:

    He is an artist whose creative power reaches deeply within us. I think of mornings on St. Simons Island looking out over the water. I think of hiking through Patagonia, driving along Highway 1 in California or sitting in front of the main tank at the Georgia Aquarium. He has done great things.

  80. Lukas Fortunato says:

    Our souls have a desire to discover God’s greatness. We want to enjoy his creation and be amazed at the beauty he has made. That same wonder, that soul singing is how we want to experience grace and forgiveness and the cross.

  81. Lukas Fortunato says:

    It should stir me deeply with joy and wonder as I have experienced in nature.

  82. Lukas Fortunato says:

    When I experience wonder, whether in nature or watching a movie, or simply in a song, i will connect that sense of wonder to my own redemption.

  83. Vinicius Marques says:

    I will focus on him before all else, or Try to. But even if I fail, he is there

  84. Vinicius Marques says:

    Though he has created beautiful and amazing things, all he wants us to admire is Him and Jesus. That is the end Goal. To lift them up for who they are and love them.

  85. Vinicius Marques says:

    That God will always be there for us. That we will always be able to see to him. That he sent his son to die for us! It teaches me that I haven’t even began to see a glimpse of the beauty of what the gospel truly is!

  86. Vinicius Marques says:

    That sometimes we start off by focusing so much on what we can see, verse 1 starts off by focusing on the rolling thunder and stars. Then we gradually move on to talking about Jesus. Sometimes it takes us sometime to turn to Jesus because we get caught up in this world.

  87. Vinicius Marques says:

    I will pray that god leads me to see the greatness that is him, the greatness of his love for me. So I can love others with the same ferocity.

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