When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
-How Great Thou Art, Verse 3
Be still my soul the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
-Be Still My Soul, Verse 3
My favorite hymns are “How Great Thou Art” and “Be Still My Soul.” In each of these hymns the melodic lines and harmonies blend together to highlight the text extremely well. I tear up every time I sing these two hymns because of the awe filled moments they capture; moments where we get overwhelmed trying to understand the magnitude of God’s never-ending love for us.
In 1885, Carl Boberg originally wrote the text for “O Store Gud” (How Great Thou Art), in Swedish, after he witnessed a powerful thunderstorm and the calm that followed. The tune Boberg selected for the hymn was an old Swedish folk melody. Later in 1949, Stuart Hine translated the poem to English and that is the version we sing today.
Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote the melody for “Be Still My Soul” in 1899. The text was originally German, written by Kathrina von Schlegel in the early 1700s and translated to English by Jane Borthwick in 1854. Welsh organist David Evans matched the translation with the tune for the Revised Church Hymnary in 1927. It is truly amazing to think of the years of separation between these people and the chain of events that led to “Be Still My Soul” as we know it today!
I look forward to the next time we sing together. Let’s plan to take time to let the words be truly lifted by the melody. Let us offer up our voices together as we join with the saints of the past, “and there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!”
Logan Fish, St. Luke’s Director of LifeLight