How Great Thou Art is one of the most well known hymns in the United States. Over the years, there have been several attempts to repackage the hymn in a modern format. However, many of them seem to fall short. Recently, the worship band Citizens and Saints recorded a version for their album, Join the Triumph. In my opinion, they have the perfect mix of "fresh yet familiar" in their arrangement. First, they kept the original tune, which is beautiful and perfectly singable for the church. Second, they created a catchy hook for the intro and in between the stanzas. This all makes for a great time singing together. We will be using this arrangement for the foreseeable future.
I should note that we made a couple departures from recording. First, I went with an acoustic lead rather than the grungy electric. Second, we kept a little more traditional chord structure for the chorus. Otherwise, we followed their recording. Below you can read the story behind the hymn from www.hymntime.com and take a listen to this fantastic hymn.
Stuart K. Hine. In 1885, at age 26, Swedish preacher Carl G. Boberg wrote the words only of a poem entitled O Store Gud. Several years later, Boberg attended a meeting and was surprised to hear his poem being sung to the tune of an old Swedish melody.
In the early 1920s, English missionaries, Stuart K. Hine and his wife, ministered in Poland. It was there they learned the Russian version of Boberg’s poem, O Store Gud, coupled with the original Swedish melody. Later, Hine wrote original English words and made his own arrangement of the Swedish melody, which became popular and is now known as the hymn, How Great Thou Art.
The first three verses were inspired, line upon line, amidst unforgettable experiences in the Carpathian Mountains. In a village to which he had climbed, Mr. Hine stood in the street singing a Gospel Hymn and reading aloud, John, Chapter Three. Among the sympathetic listeners was a local village schoolmaster. A storm was gathering, and when it was evident that no further travel could be made that night, the friendly schoolmaster offered his hospitality. Awe-inspiring was the mighty thunder echoing through the mountains, and it was this impression that was to bring about the birth of the first verse.