Have you been fortunate enough to have seen any the ‘wonders of the world’?
This term we are continuing to look at the sung worship at school and this we are looking at one of my favourites “how great thou art”.
The hymn speaks about the greatness of God. When talking about the nature of God, one of the characteristics often referred to is ‘the greatest’. The full stop is important there because it isn’t that God is the greatest athlete, or the greatest footballer, or the greatest musician, but just that God is the greatest.
The first verse of the hymn talks about the natural world, the wonders of the universe and how it reflects the greatness of God. Those WOW moments where you wonder how something so beautiful and amazing can exist. The hymn talks about considering all that has been made, the stars, the mighty thunder. God’s power being displayed throughout the universe. I am not an art, music or film critic, but I know that artists often have a style that people will recognise. I was always a fan of the Roald Dahl books and could recognise a drawing from Quentin Blake easily. That is what the universe is like, it has God’s fingerprints all over it. I’m not going to go into all the complexities of the universe now – mainly because I would probably fail, but those complexities, according to the writer of this hymn and all Christians are a reflection of the greatness of God.
The first verse is based on psalm 19 which says
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
The universe declares the glory of the Lord.
WOW. God created something so beautiful… he also created humans… they had free will… they made a mess… they continue to do so.
God could have stopped there, but he didn’t, this is also recognised in the second verse of the hymn. God sent His son, to die, bearing our burdens, bleeding, dying, to take away our sin. It sounds mad, and this is also recognised with the words ‘I scarce can take it in’.
I think this is why I love this hymn so much. Yes, it has a good ‘belt it out’ tune but it considers the greatness of God in the beginning of time, through the death of Jesus, in our lives now, and in the future when we will be bowing in admiration of God.
This is why we can sing how Great Thou Art. Not how great you were, or how great you will be if you keep working hard, but How Great Thou Art. A number of the hymns we looked at last term considered hope, and this is what our hope comes in… that God is great, and is unchanging, but through his greatness can change us, to be reflections of His greatness.
Challenge: try to look for reflections of the glory of God in your everyday life
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are great, and through your greatness you created this world and you created us. Thank you that you sent your son to die for our sins. May we recognise your glory and reflect it in our lives. Amen