UKRAINIAN BAPTIST HERITAGE CENTRE

Interviewed at OCELA Friday August 7, 2009 [ Peter's first Ukrainian Baptist Heritage Centre recorded video interview]

Rev. James Grant was ordained late in life (in his retirement years) to be the Pastor at the Ukrainian Baptist Church in St. Catherines, Ontario.  Many people were saved and baptized during his ministry.

Peter thanks Rev. Grant for always giving him an opportunity to speak in English when he visited Rev. Grant's church and for being such an encouragement to his ministry. 

Most interesting thing Peter found out during this interview was that Rev. Grant was baptized in England, by Stuart K. Hine, the man who wrote the English words to How Great Thou Art

Listen to Oksana Kostiw-Wojtowicz play this song (1:26 secs)

Upon further research, Peter found out the following Ukrainian connection [how the English words for the first three verses were inspired]. Details are found in 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, 1982. B-136, pages 99-100.

  • The original Swedish text was a poem entitled "O Store Gud," written by a Swedish pastor, the Reverend Carl Boberg, in 1886. His inspiration for this text is said to have come from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the southeast coast of Sweden. He was suddenly caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun.  Soon afterwards he heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in the nearby trees.  The experience prompted the pastor to fall to his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God.  He penned his exaltation in a nine-stanza poem.
  • Soon afterwards, the text was translated into German by Manfred von Glehn and entitled "Wie gross bist Du."
  • In 1927, I. S. Prokhanoff came upon the German version and translated it into the Russian language.
  • In 1923 the Reverend S.K. Hine and his wife, English missionaries, were ministering to the people of Ukraine.  It was there they learned the Russian translation of "O Store Gud" from a congregation of Ukrainians.  They remember singing it as a duet in dark, unevangelized places and the telling effect it had on the unsaved.  The thought of writing original English lyrics to this song did not then occur to them - that was to await their crossing into Sub-Carpathian Russia [today Ukraine], where the mountain scenery was to play its part.  The thoughts of the first three verses in English were born, line upon line, amid unforgettable experiences in the Carpathian mountains.  When war broke out in 1939, it was necessary for Reverend Hine and his wife to return to Britain; now armed with these three verses, the writer continued his gospel campaigns during the "Blitz years."  The fourth verse did not come until after the war.
  • James Grant gets baptized by Rev. S.K. Hine in England
  • Introduced to American audiences when Mr. James Caldwell sang "How Great Thou Art" at Stony Brook Bible Conference on Long Island in 1951.
  • It became universally well-known when Cliff Barrows and George Beverley Shea of the BillyGraham Evangelistic Team used it during the famed London Crusade in Harringay Arena.
© Ukrainian Baptist Heritage Centre
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