But God. Why evangelicals have hope. The story of the song “How great thou art” and its journey around the world.

In 1995 a girl was born with undeveloped optical nerves and mild cerebral palsy. She was not expected to live more than at most one year. But God had other plans for her. At age two she began to sing. Her love for singing praises to God has never ceased. And so, in God’s providence she was chosen to sing at the 2017 inauguration interfaith prayer service. And sing she did! Her name is Marlana VanHoose, a little girl, but with a voice.

Image result for the 2017 inauguration prayer breakfast how great thou art

Meanwhile, the media was busy tracking the protest rallies all around Washington that day. I watched all day and never saw it.

How did the audience that was privileged to watch react? It is worth to listen to it a second time, this time around watching the reaction of the public in attendance, notably Melania Trumps reaction.

After the song Melania led the standing ovation to acknowledge God’s grace, not only for the song, but for the whole day and for the whole presidency.

This is what give us evangelicals hope. She not only sang it, she also sang the third and fourth verses, so often omitted in public settings, especially in interfaith services. Why is that so important?

Let us look at the history of “O store Gud”, and how it came to be the most favored Hymn of at least three presidents before Donald Trump!

Clouds have always been my fascination. They come and go, form and disappear, cool by day and warm by night. But most impressive of all are thunderstorms, forming when the temperature and humidity are high, transport a lot of water vapor to higher elevations, there condensing as rain or ice, coming down, cooling and watering the earth. Clouds and thunderstorms are the thermostat of the earth. Without it the earth would respond like climate models, predicting a sharp temperature rise as carbon dioxide levels increase. The models are all flawed, since they predict a hot spot in the troposphere over the equator, but there is none. The thunderstorms in the tropical doldrums take care of that. “Settled science” instead has settled on ignoring the lack of the hot spot, for to acknowledge it would make the global warming claim invalid.

I thank God for providing us with a thermostat that protects the earth from overheating, and especially for thunderstorms!

Mönsteråsviken

Such was the case in July 1885, when Carl Boberg,  a 26 year young pastor of a small congregation of the Swedish Missionary society was the honored guest of the ladies’ auxiliary annual picnic, held in a meadow near Mönsteråsviken, (a bay of the Baltic Sea in southeastern Sweden). The day was perfect, the sky was clear, pleasant temperatures, the cows were grazing on the meadow, the birds were singing, in short,  a pastoral idyll. Then it happened. In a few short minutes thunderclouds appeared out of nothing. There was no time to go home, so they all sought shelter in a barn close by. The rain came down hard, and lightning struck a nearby tree. Then as suddenly as it started the rain stopped and all was calm. In Sweden it turns much cooler after a thunderstorm, and the birds sing like they got a new lease on life.

They all went home, and the young pastor pondered the events of the day. He

080419-11, digital 28,8 mb RAW, 12-00 Koltrast, Turdus merula Uppland
080419-11, digital 28,8 mb RAW, 12-00
Koltrast, Turdus merula
Uppland

heard the Koltrast singing its melodic, beautiful drill

and in a distance he heard the church bells ringing from Kronobäck’s church. The bay was calm like a mirror, and inspired he started penning the song “O store Gud”. Here are the first four verses in Swedish:

O store Gud, när jag den värld beskådar
Som du har skapat med ditt allmaktsord
Hur där din visdom väver livets trådar
Och alla väsen mättas vid ditt bord
/: då brister själen ut i lovsångs ljud:
O store Gud, o store Gud! :/

När jag hör åskans röst och stormar brusa
Och blixtens klingor springa fram ur skyn
När regnets kalla, friska skurar susa
Och löftets båge glänser för min syn –
/: då brister själen ut i lovsångs ljud:
O store Gud, o store Gud! :/

När sommarvinden susar över fälten
När blommor dofta invid källans strand
När trastar drilla i de gröna tälten
Vid furuskogens tysta, dunkla rand
/: då brister själen ut i lovsångs ljud:
O store Gud, o store Gud! :/

När jag i Bibeln skådar alla under
Som Herren gjort sen förste Adams tid
Hur nådefull han varit alla stunder
Och hjälpt sitt folk ur livets synd och strid
/: då brister själen ut i lovsångs ljud:
O store Gud, o store Gud! :/

He continued to write and write of all the mighty works that God has made and what He has given us through His word, and continued long into the night. Before going to bed he had penned over twenty verses. The next Sunday he wove the poem into his sermon. The congregation loved it, but that was about it. Slowly the word got around that the poem was pretty good, and after much editing 9 verses were published in the local newspaper Mönsteråstidningen in 1886. Carl Boberg didn’t make any efforts to publish it further, and was surprised when he heard it sung a few years later to a Swedish folk melody (in 3/4 tempo). This was then published in the periodical “Sanningsvittnet” (witness of the truth)  in 1891.

It was translated into German by an Estonian, Manfred von Glehn. Five years later it was translated into Russian by Ivan S. Prokanoff, the Martin Luther of modern Russia. It was published in a book with the title “Cymbals”.

Later, while in the Carpathian Mountains of what is now Western Ukraine the English Missionary couple Mercy and Stuart Hine heard the song sung in Russian, this time as a wandering song in march tempo. He got impressed by God’s great works in the Polish mountains, and as Stuart Hine heard the people singing it on their way to church he penned a translation. This became the first and second verse:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Refrain:

From now on the English version is different from the Swedish original, and it is time to step back and look at a very brief history of Eastern Europe. Before World War I Eastern Europe was basically under the Russian Tsar. Finland was a grand Duchy under Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were separate entities but under Russia. Poland was under Russian rule. Belarus didn’t exist and what is now Ukraine was part Russian and part of the Austrian/Hungary empire. The Russians tried to stamp out the Ukraine language but were only partly successful. Then came the Great War and the world changed. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and some more became independent states . During the Great War the Russian Revolution started and civil wars broke out. Nowhere was the fighting worse than in what was to become independent Ukraine. Up to six armies were fighting for control, and the corruption was unimaginable. Finally the Bolsheviks took control of Ukraine and Joseph Stalin “restored order”. One of the Bolshevik ideals was to control all production and that included all farming. Ukraine was then known as “the bread basket of Europe”. It was during this time the Hines started their ministry in Ukraine. The collectivization of the farms was disastrous to say the least. Farmers know the right time to sow and harvest, they look at the clouds in the sky, pray and go ahead. This is far more efficient than centrally planning when to sow and harvest by order from bureaucrats in a city far, far away, and so there was famine in both Russia proper and Ukraine. But the Ukrainians had put up a lot of resistance, so Joseph Stalin decided to punish the Ukrainians by taking away all their harvest and dole it out to the starving Russians. This resulted in the Holodomor (death by hunger) and at least 3.9 million Ukrainians died. This was in 1932-33 and the Hines were forced to evacuate to Poland, in what is now South West Ukraine.

This is the origin of the third verse: It was typical of the Hines to ask if there were any Christians in the villages they visited. In one case, they found out that the only Christians that their host knew about were a man named Dmitri and his wife Lyudmila. Dmitri’s wife knew how to read — evidently a fairly rare thing at that time and in that place. She taught herself how to read because a Russian soldier had left a Bible behind several years earlier, and she started slowly learning by reading that Bible. When the Hines arrived in the village and approached Dmitri’s house, they heard a strange and wonderful sound: Dmitri’s wife was reading from the gospel of John about the crucifixion of Christ to a houseful of guests, and those visitors were in the very act of repenting. In Ukraine (as I know first hand!), this act of repenting is done very much out loud. So the Hines heard people calling out to God, saying how unbelievable it was that Christ would die for their own sins, and praising Him for His love and mercy. They just couldn’t barge in and disrupt this obvious work of the Holy Spirit, so they stayed outside and listened. Stuart wrote down the phrases he heard the Repenters use, and (even though this was all in Russian), it became the third verse that we know today:
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.

Refrain:

The second world war broke out, and the Hines were forced to return back to England, but they continued their ministry. The fourth verse was was added by Stuart Hine after the Second World War had ended. His concern for the exiled Polish community in Britain, who were anxious to return home, provided part of the inspiration for Hine’s final verse. Hine and David Griffiths visited a camp in Sussex, England, in 1948 where displaced Russians were being held, but where only two were professing Christians. The testimony of one of these refugees and his anticipation of the second coming of Christ inspired Hine to write the fourth stanza of his English version of the hymn. According to Ireland:  One man to whom they were ministering told them an amazing story: he had been separated from his wife at the very end of the war, and had not seen her since. At the time they were separated, his wife was a Christian, but he was not, but he had since been converted. His deep desire was to find his wife so they could at last share their faith together. But he told the Hines that he did not think he would ever see his wife on earth again. Instead he was longing for the day when they would meet in heaven, and could share in the Life Eternal there. These words again inspired Hine, and they became the basis for his fourth and final verse to ‘How Great Thou Art’: 

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Refrain

The complete song was soon published, not in England but in the Soviet Union (in English).  The famous Gospel singer George Beverly Shea got hold of it, liked it a lot, but he wanted to change two words in the first verse: Instead of works, he wanted to use worlds, and instead of mighty he wanted to use rolling. Very reluctantly Stuart Hine agreed, but only for use in the Billy Graham Crusades. It was first sung in Canada in 1955.

It became so popular that in Billy Graham’s 1956 New York Crusade it was sung at all 99 events, and from there the song spread throughout all the world, even back in Sweden where the new version became the popular one. One of the visitors to this Crusade was the little boy Donald Trump, who went with his Father and Mother and Brother (and Sisters?) to listen. God’s word never returns void.

Years have passed since Donald Trump was inaugurated. This is one exchange of views he had with Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO:

The main stream media interpreted this as President Trump wanted to weaken NATO

Joe Biden is now President. Again Ukraine is the center of events, and Putin has decided to invade and subdue Ukraine because they decided to direct their corruption to the West rather than go along with the corruption of Russia. The battle of Kyiv is in its third day, and the people of Kyiv has decided to battle it out rather than surrender. It is beginning to look more like the battle of Stalingrad in WW II where the citizens fought and prevailed, so Germany could not get at the Russian oil in Baku. The Ukrainians hatred for Russia is that great. They remember the Holodomor as told them by their grandparents.

Putin seems to have miscalculated badly. He had his eyes on quickly absorbing Ukraine, then taking the Baltic countries, and maybe even Poland. He is getting more and more desperate and has begun to threaten Finland, and even Sweden to not even think of joining NATO.

The people of Ukraine are joining the military, all males 18 to 60 are forbidden to leave the country, forced to join the defense forces in one form or another, and even many women are joining. They are issued a gun, mostly AR 15 or equivalent and some ammunition. What they lack is military training, so the major purpose is to prevent an easy takeover of the cities. There will be many lives shed. When I saw on the TV the heart rendering farewells of the men separating from their loved ones, knowing full well they may never see each other again in this life, the fourth verse of “how great thou art” flashed back in my mind, and when Putin threatened even neutral Sweden, I realized the song had made its journey around the world, and I realized that after the thunder, the still small voice of the Koltrast singing: God is still in charge, but we must still do what we can, and above all, pray for a revival and a great awakening. As the song was sung in Billy Graham’s Crusades to about two billions all around the world, so will our prayers be a part of the greatest revival and awakening the world has ever seen.

God works in all and through all.

God is.

Melania voted in person in Palm Beach. A message on her dress?

Melania did vote in Palm Beach

in person with fraud out of reach.

With the mail not secure

we can still find a cure

and secure our right to free speech.

Did she secretively give a message with the pattern in her dress to promote blockchain?

Yes, there is a secure way to vote, if we will use the blockchain technology. It works for money transfers, so it should be possible to be used for the voting public. The results would be automatically collected and tabled and be available to the public within an hour of poll closings. One problem remains. It cuts out the power of corrupt politicians to manipulate the voting results, so it may never pass the different states’ legislatures. One can always hope though.