Daily Devotion 13 March 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Psalm 8: 1,3,4,9 ‘The Greatness of God’

1 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I am writing this as I see spring flowers and hear the birds singing sweetly outside, after what was a very wet and rough winter. It reminds me of one of my favourite hymns, ‘How Great Thou Art’, and it has such powerful words. It has a very interesting history, beginning as a poem by Carl Boberg after he walked home from church in Sweden, listening to church bells. A storm suddenly blew up, with strong winds and thunder, then rain showers. But, just as quickly, the storm was over and a rainbow appeared. When he reached home, in the quietness he could hear the song of a thrush, and the church bells were gently tolling. In the late 1880s many in the church went underground in Sweden due to persecution and the poem, inspired by Psalm 8, was used often.

Stuart Hine was a Methodist missionary who was in the Ukraine. Upon hearing the poem, he created his English paraphrase and used it at evangelistic services. At the end of the Second World War, he added verse 4, inspired by his missions with exiled Polish and Russians. One man told the story of when he had been separated from his wife at the 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. He told Hines that he did not think he would see his wife on earth again. His words inspired Hine to write verse 4, as the man was longing for a reunion in heaven.

I invite you to use the hymn as a prayer as we travel through Lent.

‘How Great Thou Art’

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee:
how great thou art, how great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour 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 hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze:

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:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
and take me home – what joy shall fill my heart;
then shall I bow in humble adoration,
and there proclaim: my God, how great thou art:

Stuart K. Hine (1899-1989), vv. 1, 2, 4 based on ‘O Store Gud’ 1885 by Carl Gustaf Boberg (1859-1940)

Reflection © 2021 Matthew Earl.
Hymn © 1953 The Stuart Hine Trust.
Image freely available online.

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All material within this order of worship is reproduced by permission under CCL 1226356