Sheet music

Musical contribution - August 2015

bladmuziek met potlood

How Great Thou Art

This month, we are pleased to offer an arrangement of a hymn with a unique history. When Carl Gustav Boberg (1859-1940) walked home from church on a Sunday in 1885, he experienced a natural phenomenon that made a big impression on him. Inspired by the event, and with Psalm 8 in the back of his mind, he wrote the lyrics to ‘How Great Thou Art’. Set to the melody of a Swedish folk tune, it spread to Russia and England before coming to America. There the song became a popular standard. So popular, in fact, that in the year 2000 it came in 2nd to ‘Amazing Grace’ in the list of the most famous hymns in the world.

When the Director of Johannus, M. van de Weerd, visited Pretoria last year, he met an organist who downloaded the musical highlight every month. As a token of gratitude, he was presented with two song bundles from South Africa, with the appeal to make an arrangement of one of the hymns in the bundle.

We were only too happy to honour that request. Considering the interest people around the world show in our monthly musical highlight, we selected this melody familiar around the globe.

After a brief opening, the chorale follows as a kind of trio. I chose to register this with 8’, 4’, 3’ contra 8’, 4’ The chorale repeats again after the interlude, and you could play this forte if you chose; especially when it progresses towards the chorale. Since this is an organ solo, I pulled back on the registration and gave the left hand a slight emphasis.

For anyone who is not familiar with this beautiful song, I have added the first verse to this text. It is not the original text, but it is the one that has become most familiar in almost every country around the world. We hope that you will enjoy this arrangement, but even more, that just as Boberg you will become impressed by God’s great Majesty.

Kind regards,

André van Vliet


O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.


Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!