How Great Thou Art by Elvis: The Story Behind the Song

How Great Thou Art is one of the most popular gospel songs of all time. But did you know that it was originally written in Swedish? Learn the story behind this classic song, and how Elvis made it his own.

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How the song came to be

The song “How Great Thou Art” was originally a Swedish hymn written by Carl Boberg in 1885. Boberg was inspired to write the hymn after hearing a storm one evening while walking home from a prayer meeting. He later said, “The storm and the evening sunset gave me the idea for the first three stanzas of my hymn.”

The hymn became popular in the United States after being translated into English by English missionary Stuart K. Hine. Hine’s version was first published in 1949, and it quickly gained popularity among English-speaking Christians.

Elvis Presley recorded his own version of “How Great Thou Art” in 1966, during his gospel recordings sessions. Elvis’ rendition of the song was inspired by a performance he saw by gospel singer George Beverly Shea. According to those present at the recording session, Elvis was so moved by Shea’s performance that he teared up and had to take a break before he could continue recording.

Elvis’ version of “How Great Thou Art” went on to win him a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance in 1968. The song has since been covered by many other artists, including Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, and Celine Dion.

The history of the song

It was early 1957, and Elvis Presley was at a career crossroads. Sales of his records were slipping, and he had yet to make a really successful film. Meanwhile, rockabilly rivals like Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis were starting to eclipse him in the charts. Presley needed a hit, and he needed it fast.

Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of a gospel song called “How Great Thou Art.” Penned by 19th-century Swedish preacher Carl Boberg, the hymn had already been covered by everyone from George Beverly Shea to Mahalia Jackson. Presley’s version would take the tune to new heights, however, becoming one of his signature songs and cementing his status as the King of Rock and Roll.

The different versions of the song

“How Great Thou Art” is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish traditional melody and a poem written by Carl Boberg (1859–1940) in Mönsterås, Sweden in 1885. The poem was translated into German and then into Russian. It was translated into English from the Russian by English missionary Stuart K. Hine, who also added two original verses of his own. The composition was set to a Russian melody and popularised by King George VI at Windsor Castle.

The song has been recorded by many artists, but the most well-known version is probably the one by Elvis Presley, which he recorded twice – once in 1966 and again in 1967. Presley’s version of “How Great Thou Art” was declared a Grammy Hall of Fame song in 1998.

It is interesting to note that the lyrics of the original Swedish version of the song are quite different from the English version that we know today. The original Swedish poem talks about how great God is in nature, while the English version brings God’s greatness down to a personal level, talking about how He has blessed us with His love.

The meaning of the lyrics

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The lyricist of “How Great Thou Art”, Stuart K. Hine, wrote the words in 1885 as a poem after being inspired by a sunset he witnessed in Ukraine. He later set the poem to music and it became popular in evangelical churches in the United Kingdom in the early 1900s. The song was first recorded by George Beverly Shea in 1955 and then became widely known when Elvis Presley recorded it in 1967.

The meaning of the lyrics is based on Psalm 8:1, which says, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” In other words, the lyrics are about praising God for His greatness.

The impact of the song

The impact of the song, “How Great Thou Art,” by Elvis has been felt by many people around the world. The song has been a source of comfort and strength for those who are facing difficult times. The lyrics remind us that no matter what we are going through, God is always with us and He is in control.

The song was written by Carl Boberg in 1885 after he was inspired by a thunderstorm one evening. The original Swedish title of the song was “O Store Gud” (Oh Great God). Boberg later wrote new English lyrics for the song, which were published in 1927.

Elvis first recorded “How Great Thou Art” in February of 1966. The gospel-inspired ballad went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance at the 9th Annual Grammy Awards in 1967.

The meaning behind the lyrics of “How Great Thou Art” have resonated with people of all ages and from all walks of life. In a world that can often be filled with uncertainty, pain, and heartache, the message of this song is one of hope and comfort. No matter what we are facing, we can rest assured that our Heavenly Father is always with us and He knows what we are going through.

The legacy of the song

Elvis Presley’s recording of “How Great Thou Art” was one of the highlights of his 1968 comeback television special, and went on to win him a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance. The song itself has a long and varied history, however, predating Elvis by nearly three decades.

“How Great Thou Art” was originally written in Swedish by Carl Boberg, a 19th-century Swedish pastor. Boberg was inspired to write the hymn after watching a thunderstorm roll in over Lake Vänern, one of the largest lakes in Sweden. He published the song in a collection of poems and songs in 1885, and it quickly became popular among evangelical Christians in Sweden.

The hymn began to gain international attention in the 1930s, when it was translated into English and picked up by British evangelist George Beverly Shea. Shea performed the song at Billy Graham crusades around the world, and it became one of his signature tunes. In 1947, gospel singer Stuart Hamblen recorded the first secular version of the song (titled “Lord How Great Thou Art”), which became a hit on both country and pop radio.

Elvis first heard “How Great Thou Art” while he was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany in 1958. He was so taken with the song that he asked one of his fellow soldiers to teach him how to sing it. Elvis would go on to perform “How Great Thou Art” numerous times throughout his career, most notably at his 1968 comeback special and at his concert in Memphis just days before his death in 1977.

In 2006, almost 50 years after its original recording, “How Great Thou Art” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It remains one of Elvis’ most cherished recordings, and its legacy continues to grow nearly four decades after his death.

The different interpretations of the song

The lyrics to “How Great Thou Art” were originally written in Swedish by Carl Boberg in 1885. The original Swedish title was “O Store Gud” (“O Great God”). Boberg wrote the poem while walking home from church one evening, after being powerfully affected by the sight of a thunderstorm. It was first published in a local newspaper in Mönsterås, Sweden, in 1891. In 1927, Georg Erkes translated the poem into German and set it to music, which he titled “Großer Gott”. The German version became popular and was recorded by several artists during the 1930s.

After World War II, three English translations of “Großer Gott” were published in America. In 1946, Stuart K. Hine heard a recital of the German version by a German prisoner of war choir and was so affected that he made his own English translation of the lyrics. Hine’s lyrics first appeared in print in 1949 on the back of a Sunday School song sheet (published by Stamps-Baxter Music & Printing Company, Huntingdon, Tennessee), with the title “O How Great Thou Art”.

In 1951, Billy Graham used Hine’s translation during a crusade in New York City and distributed copies of it as part of his campaign literature. Shortly thereafter, George Beverly Shea made a recording of “O How Great Thou Art”, which he sang during Billy Graham’s crusades; copies of this recording were also included with Graham’s evangelistic campaign materials. In 1952 Ken Darby produced a choral arrangement for MormonTabernacle Choir for use during their nationwide broadcasts on network television; over time it has become one of their signature pieces.

In 1957 Elvis Presley heard “O How Great Thou Art” while touring with Billy Graham and was deeply moved by its message; he subsequently recorded it for his gospel album How Great Thou Art (1967) Although Presley’s version is influenced more by country music than gospel music, critics have nevertheless praised it as among his finest performances; some have gone so far as to call it one of the best recordings ever made.

The different covers of the song

How Great Thou Art by Elvis Presley is a song that has been covered multiple times by different artists. The original song was written by Carl Boberg in 1885 in Sweden. It was based on a poem Boberg wrote after being inspired by a storm. The poem was eventually put to music and became a hymn. The hymn was translated into English in the early 1900s, and the English version of the song became popular in evangelistic campaigns in the United Kingdom led by evangelist R.A. Torrey.

The hymn gained popularity in the United States after being performed by George Beverly Shea at Billy Graham crusades in the 1950s. Billy Graham had asked Elvis Presley to perform at his 1957 crusade in New York City, but Presley was unable to attend. Shea performed How Great Thou Art at the crusade, and Graham later commented that it was one of the finest moments of the crusade.

Presley recorded his version of How Great Thou Art at RCA studios in Nashville, Tennessee on June 10, 1967. The song was released as a single on October 2, 1967, and it quickly became a hit. It reached number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song won Grammy Awards for Best Sacred Performance and Best Gospel Performance (Other than Gospel Music) at the 1968 Grammy Awards.

Other artists who have covered How Great Thou Art include Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Matt Redman, and Michael W. Smith.

The different live performances of the song

How Great Thou Art by Elvis is one of the most popular and well-loved songs of all time. The original version was written by Carl Gustav Boberg in 1885. It was inspired by a poem written by Boberg’s friend, Ernst Wigforss. The title of the poem is “O Store Gud.”

The song became popular in the United States in the 1950s after being recorded by several different artists. The most famous version is probably the one recorded by Elvis Presley in 1967. Presley’s version was very different from the original, and it quickly became a hit.

Since its release, Presley’s version has been performed live by many different artists. Some of these performances are very different from the original, while others are very similar.

The different versions of the song

There have been many different versions of the song “How Great Thou Art” over the years. The original version was written in Swedish by Carl Gustaf Boberg in 1885. The most popular English version was written by English missionaries Stuart K. Hine and Maurice Warwick, and first published in 1949.

Elvis Presley recorded his own version of the song in 1967, which became one of the most popular versions of the song ever. In his version, Elvis changed some of the lyrics and added a bridge, which he sang in a gospel style. The song became so associated with Elvis that it is often simply called “Elvis’ How Great Thou Art.”

Today, the song is still performed and recorded by many different artists, in many different styles. It has been covered by country, rock, pop, and even classical performers. It is truly a timeless Song that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

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