How Great Thou Art

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art….

Though Bill is now a faithful Catholic, he wasn’t always. In fact, he was brought up to be a devout Baptist, a member of Morgan Park Baptist Church on the south side of Chicago. It was in that church that he spent a considerable amount of time in the youth choir (where he sang a solo – The Old Rugged Cross) and involved in other church activities. When he was 12 or so, in the manner of Baptists and other evangelical Christian churches, he was baptized by being fully immersed in water.

Bill, in fact, was not Catholic when we married almost 24 years ago. It didn’t bother me, though I am aware that it is nice when a couple can attend church together. And it was only a year or so later that Bill – on his own – announced that he wanted to convert to the Catholic faith. He had apparently been interested in Catholicism for a number of years. I couldn’t have been happier.

I think Bill would say he has come to love the Catholic Church and its practices. What has taken him a bit of time to get used to, however, are the hymns. Let’s face it, there is nothing like good old Baptist hymns to praise God in song.

Different Catholic churches have different philosophies about music. The church with which we are affiliated in Denver is old school. The congregation is largely older people who don’t want to hear guitars at Mass. The church we attend in Mesa has a much livelier musical philosophy, singing many songs with which I am unfamiliar but love. At the end of the day, I have to admit that I enjoy the Mesa church’s music more than our Denver church. I like joyful praise, I guess.

There are two songs often sung in our Denver church, however, that I can count on Bill singing loud and clear – Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. I love both of those hymns as well, and I am particularly happy when the music board says we will be singing one of those songs. Why? Because I LOVE to hear Bill sing both of those hymns. He has a beautiful baritone voice and perfect pitch. I have never had a beautiful voice, and my pitch – which used to be acceptable if not great – is now nonexistent. I crack. I warble. I squeak.

Bill is a member of the Round-up Riders of the Rockies. RRR is an organization of men united in their love for horses and nature. Each year the group rides horses and camps somewhere up in the Rocky Mountains for a week. Among other activities, the RRR’s have a men’s choir that performs for the Sunday church service that is held wherever they are camped on that particular day. When Bill used to participate regularly, he was a member of the choir, which sang both Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. Bill always said that he loved singing How Great Thou Art out in the wilderness because the words are so appropriate and it made him feel closer to God.

He told me that again after Mass on Sunday after we sang that hymn. It made me think about a hymn that my mother particularly loved when they lived in the mountains of Colorado. Here are some of the lyrics…

Sing to the Mountains, by Bob Dufford

Sing to the mountains, sing to the sea.
Raise your voices, lift your hearts.
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let all the earth rejoice.

This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us be glad and rejoice.
Death has lost and all is life.
Sing of the glory of God.

Sing to the mountains, sing to the sea.
Raise your voices, lift your hearts.
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let all the earth rejoice.

It’s wonderful to praise God in song!

This post linked to the GRAND Social

4 thoughts on “How Great Thou Art

  1. Mom thought it was just plain silly that they didn’t sing that song At Our Lady Of Peace every single Sunday for the recessional!
    The music at All Saints brings it up a notch every time I attend mass there.

  2. I’m like you, preferring joyful praise through song. We have three services at our (Lutheran) church each Sunday morning: traditional, a mix of traditional and contemporary, and contemporary. We go to the contemporary. BUT… there are several old-time hymns that just stir up my soul and touch spots the newer stuff can’t. The two you write of here are at the top of that list!

    Thanks for sharing in the GRAND Social! Have a wonderful long weekend!

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