How Great Thou Art: The Story Behind Elvis Presley’s Iconic Song

How Great Thou Art is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish poem written by Carl Boberg in 1885. Elvis Presley recorded a cover version of the song in 1966, which became one of his signature hits.

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How the song came to be

Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art” is one of the most iconic songs of all time. But what is the story behind this classic song?

The original version of “How Great Thou Art” was written in 1885 by Swedish missionary preacher Carl Boberg. Boberg was inspired to write the song after a summer storm blew over the bay near his home in Mönsterås, Sweden. As he watched the waves crash against the rocks, he was filled with a sense of awe and wonder at the power of God.

Boberg later set his poem to music, and it quickly became a popular hymn in Sweden. In 1949, English hymnwriter George Beverly Shea heard a performance of the song while visiting Sweden and was so impressed that he decided to bring it back to America.

Shea introduced the song to Presley in 1966, and Presley immediately fell in love with it. He recorded it that same year, and his version quickly became a gospel classic. Presley’s recording of “How Great Thou Art” went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance, cementing its place as one of Elvis’ most iconic songs.

The history of the song

Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art” is an iconic song that has been covered by many artists over the years. But what is the story behind this classic song?

The original version of the song was written by Englishman Stuart K. Hine in 1885. Inspired by a trip to Russia, Hine wanted to write a hymn that would praising God for His greatness. The lyrics of the song are based on a passage from the Bible (Psalm 8:3-4).

The song became popular in the United States in the 1950s, when it was covered by several artists, including Hank Williams and Mahalia Jackson. Jackson’s version became a hit on the gospel charts, and she even performed it at one of Presley’s concerts in 1957.

Presley recorded his own version of “How Great Thou Art” in 1967, and it quickly became one of his signature songs. It won him a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance, and it was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

There are a number of reasons why the song “How Great Thou Art” is so popular. First, it is a beautiful and moving song that speaks to the human condition. Second, it has been performed by some of the most iconic musicians in the world, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. Third, it has been covered by a wide variety of artists, from country to rock to pop. Finally, it is a timeless song that continues to resonate with people of all ages.

How Elvis Presley made the song his own

How Elvis Presley made the song his own
The story behind one of the most popular gospel songs of all time—and how Elvis Presley put his own spin on it.

“How Great Thou Art” is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish poem written by Carl Boberg in 1885. The poem was translated into English by English missionary Stuart K. Hine in 1927, who also added four original verses of his own. The first two lines of the original Swedish version are “O Store Gud, / How great Thou art” (O great God, how great Thou art).

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The hymn became popular in the English-speaking world after being recorded by George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows during Billy Graham’s crusade crusade in London in 1955. It quickly gained popularity among evangelical Christians in the United States and has since been recorded by many artists from a variety of genres, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carrie Underwood, and Amy Grant.

The song has been particularly meaningful to Presley, who first heard it when he was 13 years old and struggling with his faith. He would go on to record it multiple times throughout his career, including a live version at his legendary 1968 Comeback Special that is widely considered to be one of the greatest performances of all time.

The legacy of the song

“How Great Thou Art” is one of the most iconic and popular songs of all time, and it has a special place in the hearts of Elvis Presley fans. The song was written by Carl Boberg, a Swedish missionary, in 1885. It was first recorded in English by George Beverly Shea in 1955, and it quickly became a popular hymn around the world. Presley recorded his own version of the song in 1966, and it quickly became one of his most beloved tracks.

The song has an interesting history, and it holds a special place in the hearts of Elvis fans. Here’s the story behind “How Great Thou Art.”

Boberg wrote the original version of the song in Swedish after being inspired by a storm one evening while he was walking home from church. He then translated the lyrics into English himself and submitted them to several publications, but they were all rejected. Finally, in 1955, Shea recorded the song for his album Songs of Correction and Inspiration. The track quickly gained popularity, and it wasn’t long before Presley decided to record his own version.

Presley’s wife at the time, Priscilla Presley, recalled that her husband was moved to tears when he first heard Shea’s recording of the song. He was so taken with the track that he decided to record his own version as soon as possible. The resulting track is one of Presley’s most iconic recordings, and it remains a favorite among fans today.

“How Great Thou Art” is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with fans around the world. It’s a gathering anthem for Elvis fans and a reminder of Presley’s immense talent. The legacy of the song is secure, and it will likely remain one of Presley’s most beloved tracks for generations to come.

The different versions of the song

The different versions of the song
Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art” is one of the most popular and iconic gospel songs of all time. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, but Elvis’ version is undoubtedly the most well-known.

The original version of the song was written in Russian by Vasily Alexeyevich Andreyev in 1885. The lyrics were based on a poem by Nikolai Fedorov, which was itself based on Psalm 8 from the Bible. Andreyev’s version of the song was first published in 1886 and quickly became popular in Russia.

While Andreyev’s original version of the song was very popular in Russia, it did not gain much traction outside of the country. That changed when English hymnwriter Stuart K. Hine heard the song while he was on a visit to Russia in 1927. Hine was so impressed with the song that he decided to write new English lyrics for it. Hine’s version of “How Great Thou Art” was first published in 1928 and quickly became popular in the United Kingdom and United States.

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Elvis Presley recorded his iconic version of “How Great Thou Art” in 1967. The recording was adapted from Hine’s English lyrics and featured some additional verses written by George Beverly Shea. Presley’s version of the song won him a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance, making him only the second pop singer to win a Grammy in that category (after Mahalia Jackson).

Since its release, “How Great Thou Art” has been covered by many artists including Carrie Underwood, Amy Grant, Barbra Streisand, and Josh Groban. It has also been used in numerous movies and television shows including The Simpsons, Touched by an Angel, and Schindler’s List.

The meaning of the lyrics

Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art” is an iconic song that has been covered by many artists over the years. But what is the meaning of the lyrics?

The song is based on a Swedish poem by Carl Boberg, which was set to music and popularized in the English-speaking world by George Beverly Shea. The lyrics reflect on God’s greatness, majesty, and power, and how humans are small in comparison. The song has been interpreted as both a personal hymn and a anthem of praise to God.

Elvis Presley first recorded the song for his 1967 album, “How Great Thou Art.” The album went on to win a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance. In 1972, Elvis performed the song at a live concert in Memphis, Tennessee. The recording of this performance was released as a single and became a hit, reaching number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Since then, “How Great Thou Art” has been covered by many artists, including Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, and Celine Dion. It has also been featured in popular TV shows and movies such as “The Simpsons” and “Tangled.”

The impact of the song

“How Great Thou Art” is one of the most iconic songs in Elvis Presley’s repertoire. The spiritual hymn was originally written in Swedish by Carl Boberg in 1885, and it has been translated into many languages since. Elvis’ version of the song, which he recorded in 1967, became a huge hit and won him a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance.

The impact of the song can be seen in its continued popularity – it has been covered by many artists over the years, and it was even used as the title track for an album of gospel songs by Presley himself. It is clear that “How Great Thou Art” has stood the test of time, and its simple message of praise and worship continues to resonate with people all over the world.

The influence of the song

The song “How Great Thou Art” has been a staple in Elvis Presley’s live performances and recordings since he first began performing it in the early 1970s. In fact, the song was such a staple of his live shows that it was included on four different live albums that he released during his career. The song is also notable for being one of the few gospel songs that Presley recorded and released as a single, reaching #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1967.

The original version of “How Great Thou Art” was written by Carl Gustav Boberg, a Swedish pastor, in 1885. The lyrics are based on a passage from the Book of Psalms, specifically Psalm 8:3-4, which reads: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

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Boberg wrote the lyrics in Swedish and set them to the melody of a traditional Swedish folk tune called “O Store Gud” (“O Great God”). The song became popular in Sweden and was eventually translated into German, English, Dutch, and several other languages. It wasn’t until 1949 that an English version of the song was published. The English lyrics were written by Stuart K. Hine, an English missionary who was working in Ukraine at the time.

Hine’s English lyrics were slightly different from Boberg’s original Swedish lyrics, but they retained the same overall message and sentiment. In addition to changing some of the words, Hine also added two new verses to the song. The first new verse proclaims God’s greatness as seen in nature: “And when I think that God His Son not sparing / Sent Him to die / I scarce can take it in / That on such love Almighty Father / Has His wrath endured for me.” The second new verse speaks to God’s everlasting love and mercy: “And when I think I took His Son from heaven / Who came down to die / I tremble at this gift so free / For if my offend He had not sparingly pardoned me.”

It is this second verse that is often cited as being particularly impactful and moving Elvis Presley when he first heard it. In a 1971 interview with JAT Publishing Co., Presley said: “The first time I sang it [in church], I just couldn’t get through it…I started bawling…I just couldn’t sing no more.” He went on to say that he felt a strong connection to the lyrics because they spoke to his own personal experience of being forgiven by God.

In addition to being moved by the lyrical content of “How Great Thou Art,” Presley was also impressed by its musicality. He once said that he felt like he could “hear wings flapping” when he listened to Hine’s arrangement of Boberg’s melody. It is this arrangement—which features a fully orchestrated accompaniment—that would go on to become synonymous with Presley’s recordings of the song.

Over the years, “How Great Thou Art” has been recorded by many different artists spanning multiple genres including country, pop, rock, jazz, and classical. It has been performed by everyone from Mahalia Jackson and Ray Charles to Carrie Underwood and Josh Groban. In 2001, Billboard ranked Elvis Presley’s version of “How Great Thou Art” as #91 on their list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The future of the song

It is impossible to overstate the impact of Elvis Presley on popular culture. He is one of the most influential musicians of all time, and his music continues to be enjoyed by millions of people around the world. One of his most iconic songs is “How Great Thou Art,” which he first recorded in 1967.

The song was originally written in Swedish by Carl Boberg, and it was based on a passage from the Bible (Psalm 8:3-4). Elvis’ version of the song became immensely popular, and it has been covered by many other artists over the years.

Looking to the future, it is clear that “How Great Thou Art” will continue to be enjoy a place in the hearts of music lovers for many years to come.

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