Matt Redman talks about the 75th anniversary of the hymn "How Great Thou Art" and his new rendition of it.
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Behind the story
From CT worship music correspondent Kelsey Kramer McGinnis: "How Great Thou Art" has been a fixture of American Protestant hymnody since George Beverly Shea sang it to millions of viewers during Billy Graham’s 1957 New York Crusade. But the hymn has a long history of adaptation and translation that stretches back to the late 19th century.
The version of "How Great Thou Art" we sing today was published in 1949. To mark its 75th anniversary, songwriters Matt Redman and Mitch Wong contributed new text to the timeless hymn and brought together a group of worship artists to collaborate on a recording. The new version, "How Great Thou Art (Until That Day)," participates in the long tradition of adaptation and reinterpretation in sacred song.
Matt Redman and I spoke about the process of crafting text for a new verse and why he thinks "How Great Thou Art" has remained so widely sung by congregations around the world. As you’d expect, the prolific songwriter was so thoughtful in his description of the hymn and his approach to adding to such a beloved standard. He described the structure of the verses and refrain as "inhaling and exhaling," taking in big ideas and doctrine and then responding in worship. That’s a description that will stick with me for a long time.
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