Updated: Oct 20
First verse and chorus of “How Great Thou Art”
“Oh Lord, my God
When I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”
My husband loves this hymn and will often pull up Carrie Underwood’s version sung live with Vince Gill as they performed it at the Academy of Country Music “Girls Night Out Superstar Women of Country 2011”. It’s one of the most moving performances of “How Great Thou Art” ever sung because of her incredible delivery as well as her desire to praise
God rather than have herself be praised in front of her professional peers. In the video you see her performance lift the entire audience to their feet well before the end of the song. Carrie Underwood led them into unsuspecting worship with the masterful lyrics, the power of the melody, the clarity and beauty of her voice, and the emotion behind her adoration of the Lord. For a few moments in 2011 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, God was given full glory, honor and praise. I doubt that has happened often, but it happened that April night at this performance.
Living in the special place that we Alaskans do, we are surrounded by God’s beautiful creation. We share daily in the wonder of God’s amazing creative power. We walk in it, bike in it, drive around doing errands and almost go off the road while looking at it; we fish in it, camp in it, ski through it, stare out our windows and off our decks at it, filling our eyes with beauty that we can never quite fully capture; we take photos and videos of it, but at least for me, I never feel like I’ve completely grasped it. The beauty, grandeur, and wonder go beyond what we can grasp.
God’s creation speaks the language of creativity. The dialect is universal. Listen to what the intricacy of a flower, a snowflake, or an insect says; ponder the magnificence of a mountain range or a flowing river; hear the silent beauty of a snowfall; see the changing colors in Autumn that arrest our hearts and urge us to admire the symphony of movement, sound, and color as the synchronized, swaying trees move gracefully with the wind; observe the dancing color of the Northern Lights across the night sky—all these sights are gifts from God. We see the incredible intricacy of the human body and how all our systems work together, even having the power to heal itself from many kinds of sickness and injury (or look at ANY body, for that matter—study any animal and see how it is a witness to creativity, pointing unmistakably to intelligent design). He gave us all this beauty so we could enjoy His creation and to reveal something about who He is.
Sometimes we forget who made the beauty of the earth, the solar system, and mankind. If we look at a masterful painting of a subject we see the evidence of an artist, whether we ever see the actual artist or not. We can be certain that the paint brush, the paint, and the canvas didn’t just assemble themselves without an artist to create the powerful painting before us. Additionally, if one artist is the known painter, we would be negligible and irresponsible to attribute that work to someone else. The credit belongs to the one who originally did the work.
As we take in this masterful, ever-changing work of creation, it gives us the opportunity to praise the one who created it and gave it to us so we can know something about His power, creativity, love, intelligence, and His glory. To have those moments of heart-stopping wonder at creation but to fall short of glorifying, praising, and thanking God for it, is a missed opportunity to honor God. When we do this, we fail to commend the artist and only admire the work itself, disregarding the master behind the masterpiece.
Alaskans can tend to almost worship Alaska (the creation) and we walk a fine line between being proud of our state’s beauty and thinking that beauty belongs to us. We may own an acre or so, but we do not possess it forever. We purchase the privilege to steward its beauty, and we are tasked with preserving and protecting it, but it is not ultimately ours.
We have the opportunity to know God better simply by looking at our surroundings and understanding God as Creator. As we see the fireworks of autumnal color going on in front of a backdrop of a newly snowcapped mountain range, let’s use our voices to praise Him. Let’s not make “the rocks cry out” in praise…let’s do it ourselves and tell the Lord how magnificent He is, giving glory to our great God who causes us to experience that awesome wonder the old hymn calls to mind. We can join the chorus along with the mountains, skies, and trees.
Psalm 19:1-4a “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech. Night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”