How Great Thou Art is not part of the usual genre of music for my articles. I chose this hymn as my last submission as I prepare to leave pastoral ministry in the Beltsville area on June 30, 2021. I acknowledge that there are many faith traditions that read this paper, please journey with me.
Music is universal, it was my way of connecting to the community. The words express my faith; my faith guides my thoughts and actions. This song speaks of creation, spans many decades, and is loved by many. The lyrics remind me of the greatness of the world we live in. It evolved from a poem written by Carl Boberg around 1886, sung with a traditional Swedish melody. The inspiration for the nine-stanza poem came after Boberg was caught in a violent thunderstorm that ended with the return of beautiful sunshine and the singing of birds. It was translated into German, then into Russian, with different lyrics. The version I am familiar with was introduced in English in 1953 by Stuart Hine. The first verse and chorus make me appreciate life.
Oh Lord, my God! When I in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds, they 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.
Music that sings to my soul takes away the crazy stuff of the world. When we hear soul-stirring music, regardless of the genre, it is like a little getaway from reality. What we see and hear on television, radio, cable, and social media takes a back seat to the pleasure we feel. The Pandemics, political jockeying, memories of the insurrection, violence, food insecurities, economic concern, injustice, and inequity, take a momentary respite. We find peace in the music and the words, like the transition from a storm to the beautiful sunshine. My prayer is that we transition from chaos, seek peace, and live-in awe of the God of our understanding during the process. Beltsville is now an inclusive place. Long gone is the law that forbids the sale of property to people who look like me. This multicultural, multiethnic, multigenerational, multi-religious, multi-economic, inclusive community is an example of how all can co-exist in the world. I will take this vision with me to my new appointment.
Although I am leaving, the good people of Emmanuel United Methodist Church will still be here. Until they re-enter the building, they will continue to meet virtually for worship on Sunday mornings at 10 am and Bible Study on Wednesdays. More information can be found on the webpage: www.eumcbeltsville.com or the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/EUMCBeltsville/. Until next time: