How great Thou art!

Yesterday I ended my post with a reference to the well known and popular hymn written by Carl Boberg, ‘How great Thou art’. I remember singing this hymn at my wedding in Cults almost a quarter century ago, and I still love it. To me, it speaks of God’s incredible creativity and inherent goodness when one considers with faith who and what He is.

Cults Church in Fife, where Hubby and I were married. It was a bright November day and the sun streamed through the stained glass windows like a benediction from God. (Photo courtesy of www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk.)

The first verse of ‘How great Thou art’ proclaims:

O Lord my God,

When I in awesome wonder

Consider all

The world Thy Hand hath made,

I see the stars,

I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy pow’r throughout

The universe displayed

The verse reminds me of one of our Japanese guests who visited us some years back with his wife. They had to change rooms 3 times during their 3-night stay because we did not have any room availability at the time with a 3-night consecutive run. Despite telling them this at the time of booking, this lovely couple were determined to stay with us because the gentleman’s colleague had recommended Blenheim Lodge to him.

The Attic, a bedroom at Blenheim Lodge guest house, with Louis XV bed.

The Attic is on the second floor of our guest house and guests staying in this characterful room will enjoy panoramic views of Lake Windermere from the Velux window. Our Japanese guests enjoyed gazing at the stars as they lay in bed, whilst being lulled to sleep by the quiet peace of the night.

One of the rooms the guests stayed in, The Attic, had a velux window set in the slope of the ceiling. There is a blind in the window. However, our lovely guest did not want to use it. Instead, he said that it was a dream come true that he could lay in bed and fall asleep whilst gazing at the stars from his bed. This wonderful comment on the beauty of God’s world echoes Boberg’s ‘I see the stars’.

The next stanza of ‘How great Thou art’ continues thus:

When through the woods

And forest glades I wander

I hear the birds

Sing sweetly in the trees;

When I look down

From lofty mountain grandeur

And hear the brook

And feel the gentle breeze

As those of you who have been reading my blog will know, Hubby and I have been trundling through the Lakes recently with a lady who is helping us to put together a YouTube video for our website, www.blenheim-lodge.com. Thus last Sunday found both Pui and me walking through the woods and glades of Aira Force, a pretty waterfall located near Ullswater, with birds singing lustily around us. As we reached the midway point in our climb up to the waterfall, we stopped at Aira Beck and looked backwards; there, spread before us, was a stunning panorama of rare breed white-faced sheep peacefully cropping sweet grass on the fells whilst in the background an infinity of blue blue waters washed gently against the shores of Ullswater calmly bounded by purple mountains standing sentry. It is landscapes such as this that recall the words of this great hymn.

Waterfall in the Lake District

Stunning Aira Force waterfall by Ullswater in the English Lake District. (Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.)

I don’t know about you but I always feel humbled when I think about all the work of creation about me, especially when one considers how much detail goes into each atom of handiwork. Think about how our thought processes work: every single thing we have experienced as well as our current situations, our characters, our intelligence and our beliefs combine with minute chemical reactions in our brains, which are themselves intricate art forms, thereby producing within our minds the thoughts we have, which in turn are inextricably intertwined with our emotions at one level or another.

Thus all of us are unique, just as all creation is unique: no two humans are identical through and through; no animal or plant or lake or mountain has a true twin. There is always something a little different between all that God has created which makes us special. The third verse of ‘How great Thou art’ encapsulates how important each individual is to the Lord:

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.

The author writes in the first person, ‘I’ and ‘my’. He believes, as do all Christians, that Christ came to earth not simply for all mankind, but for him: ‘That on the Cross/ My burden gladly bearing/ He bled and died/ To take away my sin.’ God does not lump His children together into one great mass of humanity; instead, He has made each individual unique and loves every one of us, warts and all.

Thus when I travel around the Lake District, my heart sings with the refrain that accompanies this wonderful hymn that Carl Boberg wrote so many years ago:

Then sings my soul,

My Saviour God, to Thee,

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

Then sings my soul,

My Saviour God, to Thee,

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

Mr Boberg’s inspiration for the lyrics of ‘How great Thou art’ can be found in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Great_Thou_Art_(hymn):

“It was that time of year when everything seemed to be in its richest colouring; the birds were singing in trees and everywhere. It was very warm; a thunderstorm appeared on the horizon and soon thunder and lightning. We had to hurry to shelter. But the storm was soon over and the clear sky appeared.

“When I came home I opened my window toward the sea. There evidently had been a funeral and the bells were playing the tune of ‘When eternity’s clock calling my saved soul to its Sabbath rest.’ That evening, I wrote the song, ‘O Store Gud.'”

A series of natural events led Carl Boberg to write these heartfelt verses – an echo and encapsulation of my own thoughts which have ever begun with an admiration of the Hand behind the beautiful landscapes of this world so richly provided for our enjoyment. Boberg’s hymn also makes me think of man’s frailty: we cannot create a plant nor cause a storm to arise, nor save ourselves from an eternity separated from God when we leave this life. But Boberg’s words bring personal hope: consider how deeply God loves us (me) that He would sacrifice His only Son on the cross to die for each and every one of us (me). Therefore whenever I think upon these lyrics, they seem to me as pertinent today as they did when Mr Boberg wrote them more than 100 years ago.

A close up of blackberries at Gummers Howe, Windermere, taken by Dave Willis, in deep rich autumn colours perhaps  similar to those which inspired Carl Boberg to write ‘How great Thou art’. (Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.)

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