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“How Great Thou Art”: 75th anniversary recording with new verse will support humanitarian causes

Christian singer-songwriter Matt Redman has teamed up with 15 other artists and released a new version of “How Great Thou Art” to mark its 75th anniversary.

“Someone wrote something out of the depths of their heart toward God and then it got wings,” he told Religion News Service. “It’s just phenomenal to think — isn’t it? — that Elvis recorded this and he gave it some extra wings. And then Carrie Underwood’s version is another version a lot of people talk about.”

Redman first sang and played the hymn as a teenage guitar player in an Anglican church in the English village of Chorleywood because, he said, its chord structure was easier to manage than other hymns. Now, he has added to the complex history of the hymn after being approached by the British charity that owns the copyright for it, the Stuart Hine Trust.

Hine was a British missionary who published the English words in his gospel magazine in 1949. He was inspired by a Russian hymn, which was based on an original Swedish poem, when he was traveling hundreds of miles by bicycle to distribute Bibles and preach through the Carpathian Mountains that traverse Eastern Europe.

Redman worked with Australian native Mitch Wong on the commission of “How Great Thou Art (Until That Day),” which features a new verse, a different beat and an opportunity to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans in the midst of war.

“We decided we’re going to have the word ‘war’ in this hymn,” he said. “Now, that’s not a normal kind of hymn word. It’s not something people often would think of singing on a Sunday morning, but it felt like an important word.”

The new stanza of the hymn reads: “Until that day/When heaven bids us welcome/ And as we walk this broken warring world,/Your kingdom come,/ Deliver us from evil,/And we’ll proclaim our God how great You are!/With hope we’ll sing our God how great You are!”

The hymn has been played more than 2.5 million times on digital streaming platforms in the month since its release by Capitol CMG Publishing and Integrity Music. Phil Loose, one of the trustees, said it is too soon to know how much money the recording has raised.

The Stuart Hine Trust, which has supported Christian outreach and Bible translation, intends to use the proceeds from the writing, production and royalties of the recording to provide humanitarian aid and support rebuilding efforts in Eastern Europe.

–Dwight Widaman | MV


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