How Great Thou Art!


This morning in church we sang a most beloved hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” one we sing often. It’s a favorite. And every time we sing it, I’m swept back to a very special memory from long ago…

Many years ago in my single life, I spent some time in Mexico visiting a missionary aunt and doing some volunteer work with her organization. I was privileged to do some wonderful touring with the group of missionaries, and one Sunday found us on a bus headed out to an Indian village to participate in their church service.

We bumped along the dusty roads and finally stopped outside a worn, stucco building proclaiming “Iglesia Christiana.” We found our way into the dark, cool meeting room and crowded in on the hard wooden benches. Soon the church service was underway, the pastor preaching from the Bible—in a language I didn’t understand at all.

It was hard to keep up with him, trying to guess from gestures and expression what he might be saying. As I looked over the small crowd of Indian villagers, I was struck with such a sense of ‘foreign-ness’—me the one out of context, sitting here in a different world.  But they loved the same Jesus I did. That much was clear. This is what heaven will be like, I thought. We’re all here for the same reason, to praise and worship Almighty God for inviting us to spend eternity with Him, forgiven and clean.

Then a man with a guitar stood up, strummed some opening bars, and the congregation swelled into their hymn of praise. Chills ran up my spine as I recognized the tune, “How Great Thou Art”—here in a village in the middle of nowhere!--sung not in my language but theirs. The dear words in any language meant the same thing. I joined in, singing in English, fighting back tears.

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 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!

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.

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!

It was a moment I’ve never forgotten, a peek into the incredible world of heaven that I’ll one day share. As we climbed into the bus to head back, the little girl in yellow in the photo above smiled a shy goodbye. Her precious sweetness seemed to distill the whole experience for me, her smile feeling like Jesus Himself was smiling at me.

A good remembrance this Sabbath day!


  1. Anonymous2/10/2013

    Sweet story. Can't wait until we can worship together eternally :). Remember singing this at the ranch? Meant so much to me. Even though we sang it very Sunday, it brought a new fragrance each new day. ~Kathy

  2. What a beautiful post, and what a Day that will be when we all gather to sing praises to Him. I didn't know you had such a missionary background, that's wonderful!

    1. God gave me a few years' service--mostly stateside--with a mission group, and that was the best time of my whole single life. It surely alters your worldview!

  3. Wendy, that is a beautiful post and memory! Last year our English-speaking church had a joint service with a local Spanish-speaking church and it was awesome--and we sang the very same song together! Blessings, Gin


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